If you’ve ever had to pay a higher than normal energy bill, you probably cringe at the sight of a light left on in one of your rooms. You might even shake your head and say “no wonder the hydro bill is so high”.
With that in mind, it’s worth thinking about energy efficiency if you’re looking for a new condo. Habits combined with rising energy costs can dramatically increase your hydro bills if you’re unaware. Fortunately, considering some simple tips can help you keep them manageable.
Pick Your Unit Carefully
It might seem like obvious advice to be picky about the condo you choose, but the idea of being picky needs reinforcing. Things such as the floor your condo unit sits on, the direction it faces and its interior finishings can all affect the temperature of your home, and therefore, your heating/cooling behaviour.
Let’s focus in on the finishing of a home, as they are factors you may have more control over. First of all, more condo developers are installing finishes that naturally modulate temperatures so that owners don’t have to overuse their heating/AC units and face bigger hydro bills. Keep in mind that newer condos are heated with gas, not electric baseboard heat, meaning that saving on hydro is not as big an issue for these developments.
One good example of this is aluminum-frame, thermal pane windows. Condo developers are also installing balcony glazing and balcony thermal breaks which also reduce energy consumption. You can look for these kinds of features on a condo developer’s website, especially if you are researching a condo and its specific energy efficiency techniques.
Consider also looking for condo units with Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEEDS) certifications. These indicate that a particular building has high energy efficiency standards, which often translates to less water and energy output and higher indoor air quality. Regarding air quality, one study found that LEED approved ventilation systems reduced symptoms of allergies, asthma and infectious respiratory diseases.
For a condo to receive a LEED certification, they have to meet a series of prerequisites (green building strategies), and can also pursue credits (which are also considered “green” strategies) to solidify their LEED status. A simple Google search or peek at a condo development’s website can reveal whether it’s LEED certified or not.
Embrace Natural Lighting & Temperature Control
One of the reasons why energy bills often skyrocket is due to an overuse of lights and heating/AC units. And it makes sense – if it’s dark, you turn on a light or if it’s cold, you crank up the heater. However, it’s a quick way to ramp up your energy consumption (and hydro bills).
The use of natural lighting and temperature control can offset these costs.
In terms of lighting, the best way to do this is making smart use of your interior decor. For example, you can apply light paint colours (namely white) since they easily reflect sunlight. You can also consider techniques such as installing mirrors which are also highly reflective, avoiding too much clutter and installing energy efficient lamps (and bulbs).
You can also resort to some natural “hacks” when it comes to heating and cooling your home. Now that it’s summer, it’s common to have the AC on throughout the day especially when it’s very hot. A few alternatives include ceiling fans, window films and cooling curtains. These ideas are low-cost and relatively easy-to-install fixes that can save you big bucks down the road.
Choose Energy Efficient Appliances
It’s one thing to overuse an appliance, but it’s another to overuse an appliance that consumes too much energy. It’s a recipe for frustratingly big hydro bills. Fortunately, the majority of electronics brands now make energy-efficient home appliances to reduce their environmental impact and help residents save money on their hydro bills.
As you shop for home appliances, be sure to look out for machines that are energy-efficient. You can look for the ENERGY STAR® sticker which certifies these devices as being low consumers of energy.
Use Appliances During Off Peaks Hours
Many of you are aware that at certain times of the day, the cost of using certain appliances rises or falls. These are known as peak hours, the three categories being “off-peak”, “mid-peak” and “on-peak” hours. To reduce your energy costs, you’ll want to try your best to use your appliances during “off-peak” hours.
These are the times where electricity costs are at their lowest, making them opportune moments to use your appliances. Take a look below at these charts which shows an example of peak hours in Ontario.
Keep Your Comfort Level High & the Hydro Bill Low
Trying to live comfortably in a country with weather and seasonal extremes while saving on energy costs is a tough balancing act. And at times it may seem like you have to choose between one or the other. However, with a few smart decisions involving the type of unit you pick and its interior fixings, you can certainly accomplish both.