- New year, new you: Learn how to save money on your electricity and natural gas bills (Photo: Ian Schneider on Unsplash)
As we ring in the new year, it’s time for us to list the best resolutions and set new goals, which includes cutting expenses to the bone. If saving money is part of your plans, you need to look around and see what opportunities you missed last year, from the electricity bill to the phone plan. Whether power or natural gas, utilities are a massive chance for you to save money and see fast results.
Cutting utility costs will require organization and vision. Yes, in order to learn how to save electricity at home, you will need to get imaginative and check your “rights and wrongs.” This isn’t always an easy task, but it can be quite rewarding. If you need help along the way, don’t worry; we can help you find creative ways to save money on your utilities in Canada.
Don’t know where to start? Read our full money-saving guide and learn how to cut costs on your utilities in the new year.
Compare energy rates: Natural gas and hydro rates
You don’t need a utilities calculator to know that the cost of electricity in Canada per kilowatt-hour (kWh) varies depending on the region, the sources of energy and even governmental regulation. With so many factors, how do you make sure you’re paying for the best utility provider in your area?
Whether in Alberta, Saskatchewan or anywhere else in Canada, if you don’t know the answer, it’s time to compare electricity rates in your province. One of the best ways to save energy at home is comparing energy plans before you sign a new utility deal. Once you shop around, you will be sure whether you’re paying for the best rates in the market.
If you want to check who’s the best energy provider in your area, go to energyrates.ca and check the rate-comparison tool. By simply typing in your postal code, you can check the current rates for all major electricity and natural gas providers in Canadian deregulated markets. This unbiased cost comparison tool will provide you with utility rates for floating, fixed and regulated plans, depending on where you live in Canada.
Currently, the cost comparison tool is available for users in Alberta, Ontario, British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.
Review your expenditures
The first step toward a more balanced budget is to cut extra costs by reviewing your expenses.
Electricity rates may vary, but you don’t need to be so vulnerable to such changes. For people on a tight budget, a helpful tip is to research fixed rates. Sometimes they are not as cheap as the floating rates, but they will provide with cost certainty, which is a valuable goal for people who want to keep their finances under control regardless of what the energy market looks like.
When we think about saving energy at home, some cliches may come to mind such as turning the lights off when there’s no one in the room or spending less time in the shower. These are undoubtedly useful tips. Still, your energy-saving tactics could get a boost and bring you even more money.
Depending on your province or territory, you can get the most out of time-of-use rates. Utility companies can provide energy during peak and off-peak hours. Essentially, it means that some hours are cheaper than others to use electricity. The best way to maximize your savings is by learning about the time-of-use rates in your area. In most cases, the cheapest hours to use energy are between 7 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Once you know how time-of-use rates work in your province, you can start planning your usage. A smart strategy is turning on your most energy-consuming appliances, such as laundry machines and dryers, during off-peak hours. That is a simple yet highly energy-saving tip.
- Don’t stick to the basics: Understand how electricity rates work in your region (Photo: Steve Johnson on Unsplash)
Search for rebates in Canada
From electric car incentives to governmental rebates on energy-efficient windows, many energy efficiency programs across Canada pay your cash back on energy-efficient purchases. There are federal, provincial and municipal projects available. Some of them will give you the whole money back on specific purchases.
In Alberta, Alberta Energy Efficiency allows consumers to get online rebates of up to $75 for smart thermostats and specific clothes washers. Users just need to upload a picture of the receipt to its website and fill out an Alberta rebates form. Residents of Medicine Hat, Banff and Edmonton, for example, can also get the most out of energy rebates by applying for municipal programs.
For Ontario energy rebates, Save On Energy provides consumers with a heating and cooling program, which lets you save up to $4,000 on efficient heating equipment, from heat pumps and furnaces to thermostats and circulator pumps. The City of Toronto also provides energy rebates for its residents, including a boost of up to $10,000 for modelling costs of energy-efficient houses.
For provinces under the federal carbon tax, such as Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba and New Brunswick, it’s possible to get rebates through the “Climate Action Incentive,” which will pay back the average household more than the money it paid in rebates.
According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), there are currently about 67 rebate programs and incentives related to Energy Star appliances across Canada.
Get financial assistance
If you’re looking for ways to save money on a tight budget, why not ask for help with the hydro bill? Many provinces in Canada offer financial assistance to low-income families who are struggling to pay their power bills. Whether you’re facing a utility disconnection or need help with electric or utility bills, you should consider an emergency utilities assistance or learn more about financial support with your bills.
The eligibility requirements depend on the province you live in. However, most of them are available for low-income families only.
Whether you live in Toronto, Guelph, Kitchener or in any other Ontario location, the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP Program) by Ontario Works offers emergency utilities assistance for vulnerable households. Consumers can get up to $600 to help with electricity assistance and up to $500 for their natural gas bills.
In Alberta, there are at least 10 different programs related to getting help with utilities through Utilities Consumer Advocate (UCA Helps), Alberta Works, Alberta Supports and other local organizations. Obtaining utility assistance in Alberta will help you maintain your finances under control.
In BC, there is a crisis supplement program in which British Columbians can get utilities assistance, such as fuel for heating, fuel for cooking meals, water and hydro, if they are facing the risk of power disconnection or already have been disconnected.
Manitoba residents who are struggling to pay their hydro bills can ask for help through the Neighbours Helping Neighbours project by The Salvation Army. To learn more about the program and check eligibility requirements, consumers in Winnipeg, Portage la Prairie, Brandon, Flin Flon or Thompson must call or visit the local Salvation Army director.
Facing high hydro rates? Buy more energy-efficient appliances
One of the best ways to beat hydro rate increases is to make your home as energy-efficient as possible. Such a change may seem too complicated, but energy efficiency can be as simple as switching from highly consuming light bulbs to LED ones or even switching out the old thermostat for a smart one.
Especially during winter, when heating bills tend to go higher, energy-efficient appliances can help you save money on your bills. Almost anything inside a house can receive an energy-efficient upgrade, including lighting, windows and the heater.
To save money, consumers must think of energy efficiency at home as an investment — sometimes it will take a while to see your money back. There are even some energy efficiency calculations available for homes and buildings. According to Energy Star, purchasing an energy-efficient desktop computer can save you $831 per year, considering an estimated product life of four years.