eMERGE Guelph

Keep Your House Cool and Your Energy Costs Down

Although this summer has been cooler than most, with rising energy costs, it is no doubt that this remains a large concern for many.images

In fact, the Ontario government has promised that we will begin to pay the “true” price of electricity with a rise of 33 per cent in the next three years. On top of that, household cooling in Canada can add up to more than 50 per cent of your electricity consumption if you aren’t careful, most of which isn’t realized until your hottest days are behind you.

But do not fear. There are things you can do to promote cooling while keeping your costs down, lots of which are at low cost, compared to a large-scale retrofit.

The first and most important thing to do when cooling your home — whether you have air conditioner or not — is to work with the natural daily patterns of the sun. When the sun is in full force, it is very important to draw your blinds and close windows until the sun begins to set and the cool evening takes over. This helps keep the excess heat out of your home during the day while allowing you to exploit the natural cool evenings.

You will also want to evaluate your home appliances and fixtures.

As many know, it is best to avoid use of your stove top, oven and clothing dryer when it is hot. Avoiding or altering your behaviour around these heat generators will reduce excess heat into your home. Such things as using lids for pots when cooking on a stove help save eight to 14 per cent of energy usually lost helping avoid excess heat being expended into the house.

Fixtures such as ceiling fans can also produce a cooling effect when set properly in a counter-clockwise direction. The counter-clockwise direction produces a downward breeze that speeds the evaporation of sweat on skin, creating a cooling effect. You can use your ceiling fans in the winter, too, by changing the direction. The clockwise direction will help disseminate the heat in your home quite nicely, making this a very rewarding investment year round.

If you find that you cannot keep the heat out with this alone, the next step is to look into an energy audit.

There are many incentives with Union Gas and Guelph Hydro that allow for rebates on high-cost retrofits, such as new insulation, or heating or air-conditioning systems. The best way to investigate your options would be to book a home efficiency audit with the not-for-profit eMERGE Guelph, which is dedicated to connecting both citizens and organizations with innovative solutions to maximize resource efficiency and community well-being.

One aspect of their home visit program includes a trained adviser evaluating your homes efficiency for heating and cooling. The best thing is that this service is offered at no cost to you, and reveals many things you may not notice about your home.

From this visit, or through your own investigation, you might find that leaks and lack of insulation is an area you would like to focus on to reduce your energy bills year round.

In most homes when you add up all the leaks from cracks in windows, doors and outlets, you are looking at a basketball-size hole in your wall. Making sure doors and windows have proper weather stripping and that outside wall outlets are insulated is inexpensive but quite the money saver in the long run.

Insulation is an area that many people disregard when thinking about cooling, but it is also quite important, even in the summer. You will thank yourself come winter, too.

Remember to consult with a reliable source or eMERGE adviser before making any big decisions on insulation. For do-it-yourselfers, a good starting point is “Keeping the Heat In,” by Natural Resources Canada, which you can access easily through a basic internet search.

I hope these tips will help you beat the heat without draining your wallet.

Published by: Guelph Mercury
Written by: Sarah Steenhoek