One very timely one for me is the across-the-board savings on compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFL's) in just about every major retailer in BC. See the list here - you can get up to $5 off on the light bulbs! There's another coupon and rebate page (link here) that offers a $3 mail-in rebate for LED Christmas lights and $15 off a locally made Hogan wood clothes drying rack (wall or ceiling mounted, made of Douglas Fir, folds away), though one should note that the going price is $150.00 - very nice if you can afford it. Unfortunately, the $7.99 Jall drying rack at IKEA has disappeared from the website - hope you ordered one in time! Next cheapest now appears to be $24, which is still quite affordable.
If you live in a "low-income household" (which many students may qualify for - note that I didn't, but that was based on a 2009 tax-return. I'll probably qualify twice over next year....), BC Hydro and Terasen gas offer a free Energy Saving Kit that includes CFL's, weather-stripping, a low-flow shower head, fridge and freezer thermometers, etc. Information on this free kit is here. If you don't qualify, they recommend you buy the component pieces yourself and the energy savings will offset the cost.
Here are 10 things you can do to reduce your apartment's energy bill (no matter what city you're in):
|A CFL bulb in use - pendant lamp above workspace|
1. Turn off the lights - particularly "overhead" room lighting. It's best to use "task lighting" (i.e. a reading lamp, a desk lamp next to your computer, the rangehood over-stove light) for what you're doing, rather than lighting the entire room. Install CFL's wherever possible (note that some old fixtures don't accomodate the longer bulbs) - they use about 75% less energy than the bulb you have in now! Not only will this save you energy, it might even help you sleep: low-lighting in the evening helps people produce more melatonin (a sleep-related hormone). You can read a scientific article (one of many!) on the effects of low-level evening lighting here. Although candle use indoors can potentially be dangerous (not only for risk of fire, but because of inhaled toxins and gases like carbon monoxide), use of mood-lighting can definitely promote relaxation. Don't you deserve to unwind at the end of the day? Some cool energy-friendly mood lighting: solar-powered 'sun jars', an LED desk lamp for $15, an LED clamp spotlight, and an LED light curtain/wall hanging.
2. Cover the windows at night (or in the heat of the summer). Curtains not only block light, they also keep in/out heat! Heavy drapes can help insulate these energy vortices that suck heat out of your apartment and into the outside air (or which heat up your place like a greenhouse in the summer!). Here's a photo showing energy-loss through windows by infrared camera - pretty amazing, isn't it? Turns out glass windows don't do a very good job of keeping in heat (and cracked, single-pane windows are even worse, but my landlord doesn't seem to care about that much). This is another tip that will also help you sleep better - keeping your bedroom as dark as possible has been linked to a better night's sleep (don't mess with those natural circadian rhythms!). In the spring, autumn and winter (if it's not too cold) consider leaving the curtains open (or use sheers/cafe curtains) to take advantage of the greenhouse-effect of trapping sunlight and heat.
|Computer, lamp, modem and printer cables - I shut off the powerbar after shut-down|
|I rather doubt this old thing even works. I leave it off.|
|Join "Team PowerSmart" online (BC Hydro) to see if you can beat me!|
|My chart at BC Hydro - note the jump in consumption Dec-Feb!|
6. Stock your fridge! Yep, keeping a 2/3 full fridge and freezer is more energy-efficient than an empty one! My boyfriend had the brilliant idea of filling the bottom vegetable keeper (where nasty things lurk because I forget they're in there) with cans of pop, tonic, and club soda. Individual aluminum cans mean I won't be wasting the rest of the tonic by letting it go flat, they won't go bad, and they'll retain a lot of 'coldness', too. There's a lot of things that do well in the fridge that might be taking up valuable (limited!) cupboard space, too (tea in an air-tight container, coffee, bread loaves, containers with flour, etc.). And whenever possible, try to get that old, inefficient fridge replaced by your landlord - after all, you pay the energy bill for that behemoth! Also check the temperature - colder isn't better (2-5 degrees C works for a fridge!), it just costs more energy. Check your seals by putting a piece of paper between the fridge and the rubber - if you can slide it out easily, that seal isn't doing its job.
7. Towel dry your hair. Blow-dryers and styling aids take a toll on your hair strands, not to mention your energy bill! Shower in the evening, towel dry your hair and in the AM get out the straightener/curler. You'll save a comparatively huge amount of energy, and your hair will be so much less fried!
|Lint collector (emptied!): $2 at YokoYaya123|
|Furniture placement and baseboards takes some planning|
|Boo to my landlord! Fix my windows!|
|Both of these were here when I moved in. Still not fixed 1.5 years later.|
More tips and commentary:
|My TV, DVD player and antenna - I unplug the whole unit when I'm done.|
- Buy EnergyStar appliances whenever possible
- Buy an energy-efficient and green laptop/PC! (Build a green PC yourself - info here. It's cheaper!)
- Don't leave your cell phone charger plugged in (I carry mine in my purse)
- Recycle your old electronics at Return-It depots in Vancouver (don't be a jerk and leave your TV in the alley! Can't make it to the recycling depot? Take it to a thrift store if your item still works!)
- Don't stand there gawking at the contents of your fridge - keep the door closed!
- Is it plug-in worthy? Just 'cause it has the part doesn't mean it should get stuck in! (Why do I feel like I'm giving a Life-Skills presentation to middle school kids?!). Make sure it's worthwhile to leave it occupying an outlet long-term. For example, I was given one of those cute Home Hardware "Reactor" nightlight/emergency flashlights that stay plugged in and turn on in a power outage. I decided that the power doesn't go out here in the city the way it does in forested, small communities during autumn wind storms, and that it's just going to sit there like an electricity leech and suck power, leaving me with a bigger bill; not plug-in worthy. I bought this instead. Practice plug-in abstinence!
Sources: BCHydro.com, http://www.ontariotenants.ca/apartment_living/electricity-savings.phtml, http://www.aps.com/aps_services/residential/waystosave/ResWaystoSave_36.html, http://www.wikihow.com/Save-Energy-%28and-Money%29-when-Renting-an-Apartment and my brain.