Conserving energy at home translates into big savings

Energy Conservation Seminar, Nov. 7th, 7pm, 2006, Burlington Public Library

Are you interested in saving money and doing something good for the environment? Homeowners can achieve noticeable energy savings with limited commitment of time or money by making some easy changes around their home.

Before taking steps towards energy conservation, it’s helpful to understand how energy is used in the average Ontario home. Space heating accounts for a staggering 57-62% of energy use, water heating a significant 20-21%, appliances 12-13%, lighting 4-5% and cooling 0-7%.

Heating and Cooling:

Heating and cooling represents the highest area of energy use in your home, accounting for about 60% of your energy costs. Install a programmable thermostat with a built-in timer to reduce the temperature of your home a few degrees at night and when you’re away. To save more on central AC costs, try cooling your home to only 24 or 25°C instead of the low 20’s. Each degree below 26°C will noticeably increase your electricity use. Try turning off your AC when you leave for the day – contrary to popular belief, this method uses less electricity than having the AC constantly maintain a cool temperature. Lastly, make sure to clean or replace the air filter on your furnace every month to improve its efficiency.

Water Heating:

On average, water heaters use the most energy in the home after heating. A 175-litre tank can use up to 5000 kWh per year, a cost of almost $500 at today’s prices. Lower your water heater temperature to 54°C – water heaters are often set too high resulting in wasted energy and scalding hot water. Be sure to use the vacation setting or turn off the water heater when you are out of town. Finally, install an efficient, low-flow showerhead in order to reduce hot water use.


Behavior is just as important as the type of lighting you choose. Turning lights off when you leave a room or don’t need them seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many homeowners leave lights on unnecessarily. Contrary to popular belief, less energy is consumed when lights are turned on and off as you come and go than if a light is left on all the time. Buy compact fluorescent light bulbs. They cost more upfront than regular light bulbs (starting at $5) but can use 75% less electricity and last years longer. One compact fluorescent bulb can save you three times its cost in electricity. For outside lighting, install a motion sensor that turns the lights on automatically when somebody walks by, then turns the lights off automatically after 1 to 5 minutes.

Upcoming Energy Conservation Seminar:

The Burlington Sustainable Development Committee, in partnership with the Burlington Public Library, will be running an Energy Conservation Seminar on Tuesday November 7th, 2006 at 7:00 pm at the Burlington Central Library. Register by phone at 905-639-3611 ext 133.

This article was prepared by the Burlington Sustainable Development Committee.

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