From a young age, most of us are taught to switch off the lights whenever we leave a room. Leaving the lights on when no one’s using them wastes valuable electricity.
Now that we’re older, we know all too well just how expensive electricity can be in Ontario. But you might be surprised to learn which systems and appliances in your home are responsible for those sky-high energy bills.
According to Natural Resources Canada, the average residential energy use is broken down like this:
- 63% for Space heating
- 19% for Water heating
- 12% for Appliances
- 4% for Lighting
- 1% for Space Cooling
Let’s look at the reason behind these numbers and ways you can cut energy costs in these areas of your home.
When you think about it, it makes sense that space heating is the number one consumer of energy in our homes. We often joke about how the four seasons in Canada are Almost Winter, Winter, Still Winter, and Construction. In short, it gets pretty cold here, and it stays that way for months on end.
While Ontario usually doesn’t see the worst of our Canadian winters, we often switch on the furnace as early as October and keep it on until at least mid-spring. That’s about six months of continuous heating.
Costs vary depending on where you live and the type of heating system you have. About 81% of Ontario homes use furnace equipment (as opposed to other heat sources like electric baseboards, boilers, and heating stoves). When it comes to furnaces, electric is more efficient and cheaper to install than natural gas, but natural gas tends to be less expensive month-to-month.
Most homes in Ontario still use traditional water heaters with a storage tank. These models must continuously consume energy to keep the stored water warm until you need it. Obviously, water heating will make up a larger portion of the bill for people who use more hot water, but on average, it’s a significant cost across the board.
You can easily reduce the amount you spend on water heating by making simple adjustments to your routine. Taking short showers instead of baths, using cold water for laundry loads, and running the dishwasher less frequently will help. But if you’re serious about cutting costs, consider investing in an Energy Star certified tankless water heater. Tankless heaters heat water when you need it rather than keeping a reservoir of warm water.
Overall, appliances only account for about 12% of your energy costs. But how is that 12% split between your various gadgets and gizmos? According to Toronto Hydro, the stove is the biggest culprit, consuming about $56 worth of energy per month. Most of your domestic appliances aren’t big energy consumers, with the fridge costing about $8, the clothes dryer $11, and the television just $2.
Most appliances passively consume energy whenever they’re plugged in, even when they’re not on. You can reduce electricity costs by unplugging them or using a power bar with a timer to disconnect them at night.
Lighting may only account for 4% of your energy bill, but it’s still good to shut those lights off when you leave. Switching your ceiling lights to energy-efficient LED or CFL bulbs will also cut costs.
Owing to our short summers in Ontario, we don’t spend nearly as much on cooling as we do heating our homes in the winter. But we still rely on air conditioning to keep our homes healthy and comfortable in the summer.
There are many things you can do to lower your spending on cooling. The simplest step you can take is to set your thermostat to adjust a few degrees higher when you’re out of the house. The smaller the difference between the indoor and outdoor temperatures, the less energy your air conditioner has to consume to cool the space. A smart thermostat makes it easy to set a schedule.
It also helps to seal any gaps or cracks in the caulking and weather-stripping around your windows and doors, and ensure your attic and exterior walls are properly insulated to minimize heat transfer.