In the midst of day-to-day life, we sometimes spend money on things without even realizing it. This is not necessarily about going to the mall or buying an ice cream cone in the street. There are some unexpected ways you could be losing money on energy bills at home. If you never thought about it before, there is a great chance you’re spending more than you should on utility bills.
It’s the same old story: After some years, we get so used to paying for electricity and natural gas every month that we forget to check whether we’re shelling out too much for utilities. If that sounds like you, and you’re not sure where to start, read on to find out some of the surprising ways you could be losing money on your energy bills at home (and, of course, how to cut energy costs).
You leave appliances on standby mode
The same way you turn the lights off when you leave a room, you should turn your appliances off when you’re not using them.
You’ve probably heard about the “hidden costs” of appliances on standby mode before. Generally, they don’t seem that expensive, so we keep leaving devices as they are just because it’s more practical. However, these appliances aren’t called “vampire appliances” by coincidence; they are indeed draining a considerable amount of your money every month.
According to a study by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE), standby mode accounts for 10 percent of your yearly electricity usage. The monthly costs related to it might not sound that costly, but they can get surprisingly high once you calculate how much you waste on it every year.
On a rough estimate, households with yearly electricity costs of $1,800 could be losing around $180 per year on devices on standby mode — some of which aren’t even used on a regular basis.
You don’t review your choices and don’t compare energy providers
Do you know if you’re under a fixed- or floating-rate plan? Or, do you know if you’re paying for the cheapest rates in your area? From time to time, it’s important to review your long-term contracts and see if you’re paying for the best available services.
After years with the same provider, you could be paying above-average prices or simply missing on better offers. Whether for utility providers, internet or a phone plan, it’s quite rewarding to do a little research whenever you can and make sure you’re always paying for the best plans in your region.
In case you don’t know how to search for energy providers, one of the best ways is to compare rates. At EnergyRates.ca, for example, you can compare electricity and natural gas providers to find the one that fits your energy needs. This online tool provides users with an unbiased third-party review of energy suppliers.
All you need to do is to fill in your postal code and check the lowest available rates for electricity and gas in your area, as well as historical costs and a range of energy plans according to your region. Commercial users can even get a custom energy quote based on their energy use.
You use energy-inefficient appliances
Most consumers have already heard about energy efficiency. However, not everybody knows the perks of living an energy-efficient lifestyle. This is not only about environment-friendly decisions; it can really help you cut energy costs.
According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), the costs of lighting and appliances account for almost 20 percent of the average household’s energy usage. So once you invest in more energy-efficient devices or lighting, you will reduce your energy bills considerably. From clothes washers to smart TVs, there are many opportunities at home for you to replace old devices with new, energy-efficient ones.
Energy efficiency should be seen as an investment, rather than random spending. According to Energy Star, a household could cut its energy costs by 15 to 30 percent after purchasing energy-efficient equipment.
If you can’t afford to buy a new fridge, such investments don’t even need to be that high. Small changes — such as switching out an incandescent light bulb for a LED one, or purchasing a smart thermostat — will give you a sneak peek of how advantageous energy efficiency can be.
You don’t check for drafts and insulation gaps regularly
More than 80 percent of the households energy usage accounts for heating and cooling, as reported by NRCan. That’s why heat efficiency is such an important issue for people who want to save money on their heating bills.
It’s highly beneficial to check for drafts and other insulation gaps at home. If you’re spending too much on natural gas and electricity bills, there are probably some home sealing issues to be evaluated at your place.
When you draft-proof your home, you’re making sure your heating bills will be based on what you actually use, and not on the heating you let escape through drafts. Even though some insulation-related renovations can be quite expensive, you will quickly see your money coming back in energy savings.
However, if you can’t afford an entire renovation, for now, some temporary measures could be surprisingly helpful, including insulations kits that can be easily found online. These products come with specific stickers, glues and foams for you to seal your doors and windows until you can afford a major renovation.
You don’t redeem rebates as frequently as you could
According to an Investopedia article, between 40 and 60 percent of rebates are not redeemed by consumers. In other words, people are missing opportunities to make more affordable purchases for their homes.
If you are interested in making energy-efficient renovations at home, for example, rebates could help you make it reasonably cheaper, or even cover the whole cost, depending on your region. Whether if you want to buy an electric car or just want to replace your thermostat, there are all sorts of rebates available in Canada.
As reported by NRCan, as of March 2019, there are at least 298 rebates related to energy efficiency available across Canada. Depending on where you live, you could find municipal, provincial and federal incentives at the same time. This is an excellent opportunity to make those energy-efficient upgrades at home without impacting your finances.