Keep our Okanagan Valley green in the winter – Energy Saving Tips!

After last weeks talk about the new trends arising in 2019 for kitchens… the environmentalist in me got to thinking about the beautiful new appliances that would be part of that design and how I wanted to open the eyes of my lovely designers and remodellers about the benefits of making energy efficient choices. But lets not just talk about kitchens, there are many ways that you can make sure that your home is not contributing to global environmental issues and saving you money at the same time.

Making these changes can get a little scary due to the high costs that can be involved. But available rebates right now are pretty decent, so that will help your wallet feel better about all the 2019 updates you just did to your newly fabulous home. Whether you live in the Okanagan or anywhere in BC, BC Hydro is offering $20 per percentage reduction in your homes’ EnerGuide rating. There are also up to $2000 offered for updates to your heating system. Fortis has some great rebates available for renovations as well. Currently in Kelowna they have one that will save you up to $1000 for using ENERGY STAR certified windows and doors. Just take a look at their website for what’s available in your area.

Although there is a higher upfront cost, over time that money will be returned not only in rebates, but also in the money that you will save on your monthly bills due to the fact that your new appliances will be using a substantial amount of energy (nobody likes getting their hydro bill…am I right?)

According to BCHydro:

“Heating water accounts for 90% of the energy consumption of washing machines. An ENERGY STAR front-loading machine can cut water use by nearly 40% and electricity use up to 65% compared to a conventional top loader.”

Using an energy star rated dishwasher will actually save you money over hadn't washing

Did you know that your dryer uses more energy that anything else in your house?!? The best way to save money in the laundry room is to hang your clothes to dry but if you just don’t have the room or the time, there are now ENERGY STAR dryers available. Also, its helpful to know that using the ‘low heat’ cycle for longer time uses less energy than ‘high heat’ for a shorter time and if your dryer has a sensor cycle that will save more than timed cycles because the dryer will stop when the clothes are dry rather than continuing on drying dry clothes (talk about unnecessary).

Looking for an additional $40 a year in savings? Consider switching out your other favourite kitchen appliance for an ENERGY STAR dishwasher. You might be surprised to find out that you will actually save time and money over washing your dishes by hand!

If replacing appliances is out of your budget, you can save some coin by ensuring that your appliances are properly maintained.  Appliances can account for up to 20% of your homes energy costs and nearly half of that can stem from you’re your fridge! An ENERGY STAR rated fridge could save you upward of $40 a year but something as simple and making sure that your fridge seals properly can also make a difference.

Happy fridges are energy efficient fridges

Start by putting a piece of paper where the seal is, close the door and see if the paper falls, if it does it might be a good idea to change the seal. Also making sure that your fridge isn’t too empty so that it doesn’t have to cycle on as frequently. On the flip side if it’s too full the air flow is restricted and can also use more energy. After all that help feeding your family and keeping your food fresh, I think you owe it to the big guy to give it a once over and make sure that its running at its best.

Kelowna and surrounding area are popular destinations for vacation rentals, so if yours is sitting empty during these winter months, you can save up to $85/year to simply clean out that second fridge or freezer and leave it unplugged with the door open.

There are other measures that you can take in the winter to help keep your costs down in the winter. Fortis has a bunch of how-to videos on their website that can be very helpful.

Energy Efficiency isn’t just for penny pinchers these days, the extravagant PNE grand prize home this year (pictured below) is located right here in the Okanagan and it’s even built to be net-zero ready. This Naramata home goes to show that you can be energy efficient without sacrificing luxury. Imagine dimming your lights and even changing the color and brightness right from your smartphone while using 75% less energy because your lights are all LED.  Or perhaps closing all the blinds in your home with the touch of a remote to ensure that you are keeping heat out in the summer months or trapping heat in during the colder winter months. In this prize home, the windows are enormous and the house is huge so this energy saving chore would take a lot of running around without your nifty remote control. Never has energy saving been so lavish. 

Modern homes have numerous options to increase energy efficiency

So whether you do or you don’t have that environmental consciousness within you, its definitely worth the money saved to keep it in mind when shopping for a new home or when remodeling the one you are in.  A bunch of small steps can add up to massive change! Let’s try and keep our beautiful Okanagan Valley GREEN.