LOWERING ENERGY COSTS

Fix leaky taps
A tap dripping at one drop per second wastes 800 litres of water per month. In most cases, a worn out washer is the culprit. New washers are cheap, and they can be replaced in minutes with a simple wrench and screwdriver.

Install an energy saving showerhead
An energy saving showerhead can reduce your hot water use by up to 30%. In one year, you can save over 28,000 litres (6,167 gallons) of water. You'll still get brisk showers, and you'll save a significant amount on your electricity bill.

Insulate hot water pipes
Insulate at least the first three feet of pipe leading to and from the hot water tank with tape wrap or snap-on foam pipe tubing. If your hot water pipes run through unheated sections of your home, insulate them there too. Combined with a water heater blanket, you could save a significant amount on your electricity bill every year. Plastic pipes shouldn't be wrapped - the extra warmth might soften them.

Wash your clothes for less
About 25% of all household hot water is used for clothes washing. Use cold water washing wherever possible. And always set your washer to rinse with cold water. Cold water rinsing can save you enough energy for about 100 hot baths or 220 showers per year. When you do use hot water washing, be sure to set the water level to match the load.

Remove and clean the washer's agitator once a month. Clean the filters of both water hose inlets on the back of the machine once a year.

Caulk and weather-strip
For about $50, a few tubes of caulk and some weather-stripping can go a long way to tightening up your house for the winter. Check around windows, vents, and especially the sill plate where your house meets your foundation. Feel for drafts around any pipes and vents and remember to look where the sink drains go through the floor. Also, install foam gaskets and safety plugs in electrical plugs and switches. You may be surprised how much cold air comes in through your plugs and switches. All of these jobs are perfect DIY jobs for a weekend. Get all the details on caulking and weather-stripping and get to work on a job that really pays off.

Close the chimney damper
If you have fireplaces, be sure the dampers are closed when they are not in use. A fireplace with an open damper acts as an open chimney, taking incredible amounts of heat out of the room.

Use timers for indoor security lighting
To make your house look occupied when you're out, install programmable timers to turn selected lights on and off. Portable timers plug into a wall, while permanent types replace light switches altogether. Halogen PAR flood or spotlights are perfect for this due to their low energy consumption.

Turn off the lights
Mom was right. When you leave a room, turn off the lights. This will save you money and energy even if you're out of the room for just a short time. It's a good habit to learn, and to teach your children.

Strategic landscaping can cool your house
Deciduous trees, trimmed high to allow breezes to pass underneath and circulate around the house, will contribute to cooling the house exterior. They are also effective in keeping sun from the windows and if they grow tall enough, they will help shade the roof. Trees provide natural cooling inside and out. In the winter when the trees have no leaves, the sun will help to heat your home. Think about this when you're considering the landscaping of your property.

Draw the curtains on heat
Windows with southern and western exposure will likely allow the most sun to shine in. There are a few ways to treat windows that will help you keep your home cooler.

The most obvious thing to do is to close the drapes, blinds, or curtains during the day. By doing this, and keeping the windows shut, you will be able to keep the house closer to the temperature it was first thing in the morning. A more permanent solution would be the addition of window shades or awnings.

Put your ducts and vents to work and save heat
If you have a larger house and aren't using one or more rooms, be sure to shut the heat off to those rooms by closing the vents or turning off the heaters. Check your basement and attic to see that you're not heating areas that aren't occupied.

Consider spot ventilation. If most of the humidity comes from the bathrooms and kitchen, install exhaust fans with timers. In the kitchen an exhaust installed right over the stove will take moisture out of the room quickly. Make sure that these fans are vented to the outdoors and not the attic or a crawl space.

Cleaning and maintaining your furnace
It's important to clean your furnace regularly to keep it operating efficiently. It also reduces the dust in your home. You should do this every few months during the year, and every month during heavy winter use.

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