The conservation of Canada’s energy supplies is receiving more and more attention. Air pollution, greenhouse gas emissions, and dwindling supplies of natural gas and electricity all contribute to a growing crisis. Everyone who uses any significant amount of energy, whether they rent an apartment or own a house or condo, should be worried about this rising problem.
Wastes of Energy and Water that are Widespread
Substantial Loss of Pressurized Air
Holes and gaps in your house’s walls, flooring, windows, ceilings, and doors may let the wind blow right in. As a result, your home may be drafty and chilly throughout the winter, requiring you to spend more energy than necessary to maintain a comfortable temperature inside. Homes with drafts are more likely to have issues with noise transference to the inside. Because of the necessity of maintaining a comfortable temperature in the sweltering summer months, air conditioning use increases. In any case, you may spend more money than necessary on your home maintenance costs and use more energy than necessary.
Holes and gaps in your house’s inner walls, ceilings, and floors may let air move freely throughout your home and into neighboring apartments.
A poorly sealed home or apartment will allow unwanted smells, sounds, smoke, and vermin to spread throughout the space, even to adjacent units. The conditioned air will flow out of your home or building in unpredictable patterns.
Reducing air leakage is vital for maintaining a comfortable temperature and humidity level in your home or apartment.
Maintenance of HVAC (Heating, Ventilating, and Air Conditioning) Systems
Maintenance of heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems ensures that they are constantly operating at peak efficiency and using the least energy possible. As a result, you’ll need fewer system servicing and repairs, allowing you to save money.
Doors and Windows
Make good use of the sun’s warmth.
During the colder months, solar energy may be used to heat your home at no cost.
- Windows facing south, west, and east receive the greatest sunlight; consequently, keeping these blinds and curtains open will allow the most heat to enter the room.
- To prevent your heater from running at this time, close the radiator valves and adjust the temperature setting on your thermostat. When the sun no longer enters the room, make sure to raise the thermostat again.
- Close your blinds and drapes at night to maintain the warmth in your flat.
It is important to remember that shutting blinds and curtains can cause condensation to build on the windows. The window frames and adjacent surfaces may become damp and damaged due to this. The tenant’s health is at risk when mold develops on the window frames and other surfaces. Condensation may be avoided in several ways, the most important of which is not leaving the curtains closed for extended periods of time and wiping away water as soon as it appears on the window. Keep in mind that prolonging the use of your kitchen and bathroom fans can also assist. Finally, if your window condensation problem persists, you may safely leave the curtains open until you find a solution, especially if you’re concerned about mold growth.
This winter, make sure the heat stays inside!
Some people believe opening the windows is a good idea when it becomes too chilly indoors during the winter. But the heat you are letting go of is heat for which you have already paid. The heater has to work harder since cold air is allowed in. If the temperature inside your home becomes unbearable, the best thing to do is to switch off the air conditioning.
Overheating from sunlight streaming into some rooms of your home throughout the winter is one possible explanation for the uncomfortable warmth you’ve been experiencing there. In this case, closing the draperies or blinds in the hot rooms is the best course of action. If you and your neighbors use a central boiler, you should let the building management know if your apartment is getting too hot. Management will respond by adjusting the boiler controls or providing you with more information on modifying your heating system.
Making It Through the Summer
The easiest way to keep your home cool throughout the summer is to keep the blinds and drapes closed. Open windows let in hot, humid air during the day, making it uncomfortable to be inside. Thus, keeping the windows closed during hot and muggy days is beneficial. Leaving your windows open in the morning, evening, and night will help you achieve the target temperatures because cooler air is more noticeable at those times.
Conceal Air Leaks
Do-it-yourself window and door joints
Close any gaps you notice between the window or door frame and the neighboring wall, and trim the walls as needed.
DIY weather-stripping gaskets for windows and doors
Check the seals and weather-stripping around your windows to ensure they are in excellent shape. It is recommended to replace the gaskets if they are worn or flattened. Signs of air leakage include the presence of drafts, the movement of draperies or blinds, and the rattling of windows and doors.
A few things to keep in mind before you start air sealing:
- Obtain the required approval from the building administration.
- Invest in a latex caulking that may be painted to conceal the seam effectively.
- It’s important to remember that some spray foams expand very rapidly, which might cause harm to neighboring surfaces and an overall mess while utilizing spray foam.
Structures’ Surfaces (including the Ceiling and the Walls)
DIY vs. professional floor-to-wall baseboard joints
Check for cracks in the caulk that connects the outside walls and floors. Remember that you may only accomplish this if the floor is made of a hard material like tile, concrete, or wood, and the baseboard trim or wall can be safely caulked to it. Because of this, it is recommended that certain fixes be made during refurbishment.
When replacing the baseboard or quarter-round trim, you can caulk the gap between the wall and the floor, which the trim will hide. Caulking the baseboard or making a quarter-round trip to the floor requires taping off a narrow floor section with masking tape. Along the wall-floor junction to be caulked, 3 mm (1/8 in.) is a decent distance from the wall. If you want a neatly caulked junction, remove the tape when you’re done caulking.
The penetrations of wires into the wall behind electric baseboard heaters should be inspected and sealed. A contractor’s visit to turn off the electricity and temporarily remove the baseboard heaters is necessary for this. The electric wire for the heater is often routed via an opening in an outside wall. Depending on the hole’s size, you may either foam it or caulk it. A good time to clean the space behind the baseboard or the baseboard heating components is by sweeping or vacuuming any dust or debris that may have accumulated there. As a result, heat transmission will be enhanced.
Make your own decorative plates for electrical outlets and switches.
Find the main breaker box in your home and disconnect the electricity to the outlets you will be working on. Specifically for outlets and switches on outside walls, you should invest in CSA-approved air-sealing gaskets and install them below the cover plates. You may get air-sealing gaskets that the CSA has authorized for use under electrical cover plates at any hardware shop.
Child safety plugs can be used to seal up electrical outlets to prevent drafts from seeping in.
Installing your own plumbing, electrical, and ventilation systems
Find the plumbing beneath the kitchen and bathroom sinks and behind the toilet fittings before you begin caulking and sealing. Utility closets and other shared areas can also have the pipe, duct, and wire penetrations sealed. Seal these openings with caulk or spray foam. Tape, rags, and fiberglass insulation are ineffective substitutes.
DIY/Professional Options for Exposed Ventilation and Conduct Penetrations
Locate the plumbing penetrations, electric boxes (the outdoor lights and plugs on balconies), exhaust, and supply-air grills that can be reached from your balcony area, and seal the gaps surrounding them. Ensure the hinged dampers in the outer vent hoods are closed, and examine the exhaust fan when it is turned off.
If you need to get somewhere that isn’t easily accessible from your balcony, it’s best to call in the pros instead of risking your personal safety.
Kitchen and Bathroom
Verify the Effectiveness of Ventilation Fans
Make sure the house and grill covers on the bathroom fans, range hoods, and range hood filters are clean. If they’re not, clean them now. In addition, make sure the blades of any fans you can access are clean and clear of dust. There are certain structures where the exhaust fans are routed out of the unit’s outer wall (rather than through a rooftop fan). If this is the case with your unit and the balcony provides easy access to the outer hoods, you should keep them free and the dampers open when the fans are operating and closed when they are not. To maintain enough ventilation in a bathroom or kitchen, a fan must operate for longer, consuming more energy if a damper cannot easily move.
In an ideal scenario, the bathroom exhaust fan would operate long enough to eliminate humidity and odors without also wasting energy by venting warm air outside. Get a handyman to put a timer on the exhaust fan to do this.
How to Install a Bathroom Exhaust Fan
Track down the malfunctioning exhaust fan and fix the air leak. If your ceiling fan protrudes into the room, use foil duct tape to caulk the space. You can see and reach the hole if you remove the fan’s ceiling grill. The sealed seam is out of sight after the ceiling grill is reinstalled.
In some houses, a bathroom’s vent grill may lead to an outside wall vent or an inside ceiling duct. In this situation, removing the grill might expose the exhaust duct, allowing you to seal it to the wall. If this isn’t an option, paintable caulking can be used to fill the space between the wall and the grill.
In-Home Bathtub Surround Installation
Apply caulking to the ceiling and walls around the bathtub to prevent water damage and mold growth. Remember that you may need approval from the building’s management or owner if you are a renter.
Tighten Loose Nuts and Repair Dripping Fixtures
A dripping faucet can waste roughly 200 liters of water every week. Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye on it. That’s a huge amount of water that went down the drain for no purpose.
It will be easy to track the source of any dripping water. This makes it more challenging to track out the source of a leaking toilet. One easy way to tell if a toilet needs a new flapper valve is to look at the one already installed. Drop some food coloring into the water tank to see if the valve needs to be changed. After waiting at least 30 minutes, observe the water’s hue in the toilet bowl. Changing the valve can be necessary if the bowl’s water takes on the hue of the dye. If you execute this test and the water turns out to be a different color than you expected, just flush it down the toilet.
The best option is to call a plumber or the building management to fix the problem. Leaky faucets and toilets may be fixed by installing a new flapper designed for your specific type of faucet or toilet. Using flappers that aren’t designed to work together might lead to leaks.
Put in water-saving features like low-flow shower heads.
Installing low-flow showerheads and faucet aerators is a great way to conserve water without sacrificing performance. You’ll get the same quantity of water as before while saving money and water. On-off valves make it simple to turn off the water supply while lathering up with shampoo or soap. It’s a good way to conserve water, energy, and soap.
Put in Low-Flow Water Closets
Remember that the typical flush volume for a standard, pre-1980s toilet is between 20 and 26 liters. Newer toilets require 6 liters of water per flush to get the same results. It’s also worth noting that a home’s toilet is typically the largest single water user.
A dual-flush toilet, with a smaller flush for liquid waste and a larger, 6-liter flush for solid waste, is the ideal option. However, even switching to a 6-liter-per-flush type will save money right now.
Change to Energy-Savvy Light Bulbs
Choose fluorescent tubes and compact fluorescent lights for their high quality and low energy (CFLs). The efficiency of fluorescent lights is between 75 and 80 percent higher than that of incandescent bulbs, lasting 6 to 10 times as long. CFLs are available for purchase and are fashioned to look and function like regular light bulbs. You can also customize the brightness and color of the lights.
The energy and money saved over the course of their significantly longer lifetimes make up for the higher cost of fluorescent and compact fluorescent lights compared to incandescent bulbs.
An Energy Star label may be seen on many of these items. Remember that fluorescent light tubes contain mercury, and dispose of them accordingly.
Make the Switch to Energy-Savvy Devices
About 20% of your annual energy bill goes toward running your appliances, the biggest of which are the refrigerator and the clothes dryer. Keep the appliance’s energy use and associated costs in mind while shopping for or upgrading electronic equipment. Again, check the Energy Star label on small appliances, electronics, and office supplies and the EnerGuide label on larger equipment. Typically, the device’s energy consumption when in operation may be deduced from these labels.
Front-loading washers use up to 40% less water and 60% less energy than top-loading washers. Likewise, less detergent is needed for them. Finally, front-loading washers can extract more water from loads, reducing the time needed to dry garments and the associated energy costs. Because of this, you’ll be able to save considerably.
Make sure your fridge is in working order.
Older refrigerators might use a disproportionate amount of energy if not maintained properly. Here are a few preventative care tips for your fridge:
- It is recommended that the evaporator coils located either at the back or underneath the fridge be cleaned once a year. There is always the owner’s handbook to consult.
- Check that the door seals tightly against the gasket. If the gasket gets dusty or worn, you may clean it with soap and water.
- Don’t rush into putting hot food in the fridge.
- Take care to keep the door closed at all times and avoid leaving it propped open for extended periods.
- Freezers should not accumulate more than six millimeters of frost and should be defrosted regularly to ensure optimal performance.
Make good use of your washing machine and dryer.
Reduce the load frequency
If you want to conserve energy on utilities, fill the washer. Make sure you just put enough clothes into the washing machine or dryer for a full load. If you overload your washing machine, your clothes won’t get clean and will take longer to dry.
Wash your garments in cold water.
Cleansing detergents designed for use with only cold water should be used. If you need to wash your garments in hot water, and just the dirtiest ones, do it by separating your laundry into hot water loads and cold water loads. Using less energy to heat water is a good thing.
When drying clothes, sort them by category.
Grouping comparable fabrics for drying can result in some energy savings. Dry permanent press shirts, for instance, may be dried at a lower dryer setting.
Let it dry in the fresh air.
In the long term, you may save money on your electric bill by hanging your clothing on a drying rack on your balcony instead of using the air. Don’t risk moisture damage by air-drying your items inside.
Don’t let lint build up in your dryer.
Every time you dry a load of laundry, remove the lint from the dryer’s filter to prevent fire danger and save time and energy. Another lint trap may be situated in the dryer vent. Please clean this trap if it requires it.
In addition to requiring more time in the air, longer summers also mean more time spent cooling your home, which means more money spent on electricity. Make sure that the dryer’s vent damper is clear of lint and easily opens and closes when the dryer is switched on and off. Only try this if you can see and reach the dryer’s vent hood. If lint has built up in your vent hood, you may want to hire a professional duct cleaner.
Thermostatically Controlled Heating and Ventilation
Maintain Your Heating System by Having It Cleaned
Installation and repair of fan coil units: do-it-yourself and professional
When your fan-coil filters are dirty, your HVAC system has to work harder to keep your house comfortable. Ensure that the fan-coil filters are clean by removing any dust or dirt that may have settled on them.
The filters may need to be cleaned or replaced every few weeks to several months, depending on the type of filter used and how quickly they accumulate dirt.
Use a vacuum to eliminate the dust that has settled within the supply and return air grills. When cleaning, you should open the louvers on a grill that has them.
It is recommended that a specialist carry out the following step:. Once a year, you should vacuum and clean the coils in the fan coil unit.
Fix the squeaky fan motor and the leaking pipe.
Homemade hot water and steam radiators and convectors
Multiple times a year, you should vacuum out your radiators. After taking off the radiator cover, use a soft vacuum on the coils or heating components.
Avoid blocking the air into the room by positioning large pieces of furniture or heavy draperies near the radiator.
This recommendation applies to systems where thermostatic zone valves regulate individual radiator temperatures. You may verify the system’s functionality by resetting the thermostat and monitoring the radiator’s temperature.
Some furnace filters need to be cleaned or replaced every month, while others need to be done every three months, depending on the type of filter and how rapidly it gets soiled.
Use a vacuum to eliminate the dust that has settled within the supply and return air grills. When cleaning, you should open the louvers on a grill that has them.
If your fan motors are making a lot of noise, you should contact a service provider or the management team.
Getting your furnace checked once a year is recommended to ensure it is in excellent operating order.
DIY electric baseboard heat
Ensure that air can circulate freely around electric baseboard units by keeping them unobstructed by drapes or furniture.
Having your electric baseboard heaters serviced once a year is recommended. To do so, first, switch off the electricity to the heater at the main breaker panel in your apartment or house. The fins discovered behind the panels should be cleaned if at all feasible. Vacuuming the baseboard area can remove dust accumulation. The electrical component and the fins must be protected at all costs. After you’ve finished cleaning everything thoroughly, replace the panel and reconnect the electricity to the heater.
Check the thermostat’s functionality by setting it high and then low until you hear a click. The baseboard heater or air conditioner should heat or cool according to the thermostat setting. Don’t hesitate to contact the service contractor or the building administration if you aren’t receiving a change.
Reduce the Temperature
Turning down the thermostat might help you save money on your heating costs. In general, 20 degrees Celsius is a pleasant temperature.
At night or while you’re away from home, 13–15.5 degrees Celsius is a comfortable temperature range to be in.
You may obtain a thermostat that you can set to warm the house up before you wake up in the morning or when you get home from work for greater comfort and convenience. Temperatures may be configured to automatically decrease or increase at specific periods of the day or week when you are not home. However, programmable thermostats are only effective if they are correctly programmed and operated.
When deciding how much to lower the thermostat, it’s important to take into account factors like the number of people living there, the amount of moisture being produced from activities like showering, washing clothes, and cooking, the use of ventilation systems like bathroom fans and the kitchen range hood, and the value of the windows and walls. By making the most of your bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans, you may reduce your thermostat setting by as much as five degrees.
Condensation on windows is something to keep in mind if you decide to lower the temperature in your home. Condensation can cause water to collect on the windowsill and in hidden areas of the external walls and roof if left unchecked for too long. This effect is magnified when you shut your curtains and blinds at night. Surfaces, carpets, finishes, and drapes can all be harmed, and mold can begin to grow as a result. Check the windows and outside walls for condensation whenever you adjust the temperature in your home, and inspect the walls for mold growth. The warmer the room, the less condensation will form.
Central Air Conditioning
Get an Energy-Efficient Air Conditioner
When sized properly, energy-efficient air conditioners can cool a home while reducing energy bills. There are several air conditioners called the energy efficiency rating (EER); an air conditioner with an EER of at least 11 is the best type to purchase, although the price will be higher. With the reduced electricity use that results from utilizing these models, you’ll be able to recoup this initial investment and even more in savings. A high-quality air conditioner will produce less noise and have a more pleasing shape.
Your home will feel chilly and damp if you install an air conditioner that is too powerful for energy and will cost you more to run. Choose a compact air conditioner for your house if you want to save money on utility bills without sacrificing comfort.
Be cautious about your air conditioner use.
The following recommendations can help minimize air conditioning electricity usage, regardless of whether you have a window-mounted unit or a permanent through-wall system:
It’s a good idea to raise the temperature or switch off the air conditioner when you leave your home.
Filters in window air conditioners should be cleaned or replaced once a month.
Close the “fresh air” vent on your window-mounted or through-the-wall air conditioner to save money on cooling costs. Only when the air inside becomes too stifling should it be opened.
If you want to save money on your energy bill and get the most out of your air conditioner, installing proper window shading is necessary. If possible, put your air conditioner in a north-facing or shaded window.
Keep drapes, blinds, and windows shut to keep the heat and humidity out.
Set up ceiling fans as a supplement or a replacement for air conditioning. Ceiling fans with the Energy Star label consume much less energy than standard models.
If your air conditioner is the type that mounts in the window, taking it down and putting it away for the winter will help you save energy on your heating bills. When you’re ready to repair the window glass or install an insulated panel, you can do so after removing the AC unit for storage.
DIY/Contractors for installing window and wall air conditioners
Joints around through-the-wall or window-mounted AC units should be sealed using caulking or spray-in foam. If the gap between the two surfaces is more than 3 mm wide, you’ll need to use a foam backer-rod to stop the caulking from seeping in. Don’t put anything in the way of the AC’s condensation drain pipes or holes.
Placing a plastic sheet over a window or wall air conditioner can prevent drafts from entering the room. It’s important to choose a tape that can be easily removed. Remove the tape in the spring from a non-damaging surface to avoid damaging the area.
Heaters for Water
Reduce the Temperature in the Water Tank
Hot water from a gas or oil-fired tank should be kept between 46 and 49 degrees Celsius, turning the taps on the tank to that temperature.
Don’t let the temperature in your electric water heaters drop below 60 degrees Celsius. To prevent scalding, thermostatic mixing valves are suggested to ensure that the water temperature going into fixtures like bathtubs, showers, and sinks does not exceed 49 degrees Celsius.
Put an insulating cover over the water heater to keep the water at a comfortable temperature. You can do it yourself if you have an electric tank. Seek the services of a professional plumber or electrician if the tank uses gas or oil for fuel.
If the central system that supplies your hot water is heating it to a temperature higher than 49 degrees Celsius, you should have the temperature safely lowered. You can contact the building management to turn down the heat if necessary.
Lower the Temperature of Your Water Heater While You’re Away
The temperature of your hot water tank can be reduced or turned off if you are going to be away from home for a few days. There is no reason to keep reheating the same water if you have no plans to use it. When you return, flip a switch, and your water tank will be hot in a few hours.
Modify Your Behavior
If you’re having a get-together, lower the thermostat.
If you are having guests around, it is a good idea to lower the temperature in the house. When you invite guests into your house, the temperature will rise since people are heat generators. If you lower the temperature before they arrive, you may enjoy the party without having to open the windows to let in the cool air when the temperature increases.
Power down all lights, gadgets, and machinery
Turn off all lights, electronics, and appliances while not in use. Keep in mind that many modern appliances have an “instant on” design where the switches are constantly in the “on” position. In other words, the appliances are not being shut off completely, resulting in wasted energy use.
It is called a “phantom load” when an appliance such as a television, clock, timer, memory, remote control power switch, or transformer continues to use electricity even after being switched off. When switched off, these appliances still consume a negligible amount of energy, which amounts to a large amount of squandered resources.
To simplify your life, it would be helpful if you could power off all of your devices with the flip of a single switch. To achieve this, you may use power bars to group devices, such as stereos, televisions, and computer peripherals. You may ensure that any “phantom loading” appliances are completely turned off by clicking the power bar to the off position.
Be economical with your appliance use.
I think this is a brilliant concept for the kitchen. It’s easier to prepare food if the heat stays within the pot; therefore, use covers. By doing so, you can reduce the temperature.
Make sure your washer and dishwasher are completely full (but not overflowing) before you run them to save water and energy. You should scrape the food off your dishes before putting them in the dishwasher. Air-drying the dishes and utilizing the dishwasher’s energy-efficient drying cycle are also great ways to cut costs.
Please Avoid the Elevators
By avoiding the elevator, you’ll help save on energy costs and improve your cardiovascular health.
What Else Can You Do?
Send in the Energy Hogs
If you notice any malfunctioning appliances or systems in your house or building, make a note of them and get them serviced or notify the building management. When weather stripping on exterior doors and windows becomes worn or disappears, it is time to repair or replace the faulty components. Parking garages and other public spaces that are too warm should be cooled down.