We survived the first winter in the #totsreno house. And I mean survived. We had a very cold and long, I mean really long, winter in Southern Ontario. The house was cold. Throughout the winter, we kept making little tweaks to the house to make it more energy efficient. I did not want to pay more on utilities than I had too.
By the end of winter, the house was becoming more comfortable and retaining much more heat. I was privy to the utility bills before we bought the house so I know how much was being paid on utility bills. The tweaks we made were affordable and we ended up saving over $300 on the previous winters bill.
5 Steps To Make Your Century Home More Energy Efficient
Upgrade your windows and furnace. I put upgrading your windows and furnace first as it was by far the biggest expense we had to try to make the #totsreno house more energy efficient. It was an expense we could not put off. The house was a foreclosure and when we bought it numerous windows were cracked and smashed. The furnace was also on it’s last legs – and by last legs I mean it was older than I was and hadn’t been serviced since 1987. Together we spent approx $20,000 on these two items. A big chunk of change but necessary. Don’t worry the following tips will cost you as little as $5.
Install insulation behind exterior wall light switches and outlets. Installing insulation behind light switches is super easy and very cheap. you just take off the electrical cover, place the switch or outlet insulation and put the cover back on. It’s that easy. The insulation plugs any holes that allow drafts to come in. You only need to do this for exterior walls and in our house it cost less than $20 for the entire house. I noticed a big difference. Our four square home has a double concrete wall exterior (read zero insulation) and this small trick really lessened the drafts.
Use foam insulation in gaps. When you buy a century old farmhouse you also buy the character those 100 years bring you. We have very nice original hardwood floors but they have warped over the years. The gaps in some of the areas were so large we could fit our fingers in them. My husband took a can of spray foam insulation (approx $5) and insulated all of the gaps. No more cold feet.
Add weather stripping to exterior doors. Just like in the above two tips this ones is all about stopping that cold air from coming in. In the door leading to our deck from our kitchen, we could see the outdoors even when the door was shut. That is how big the gap was. We could have gone out and bought weather stripping but instead my husband made his own out of spare wood and leftover carpet underpad (isn’t he handy?!) It’s not the prettiest solution but it works.
Install a programmable thermostat. Most of the tips have dealt with finding holes and plugging them up so cold air does not get in. This last tip is a little different. It is all about how you use your furnace. The way your furnace works is it is set to a temperature of your choice and it heats the house to that temperature (or a degree or two warmer). Once it reaches the desired temperature your furnace shuts off but once it dips below it turns back on. On, off, on, off all day and night. If you have a programmable thermostat you can reduce the amount of times your furnace turns off and on (which takes a lot of energy). We like our house to be at 70 degrees. Without a programmable thermostat, our furnace would be working towards that temperature all the time – even when we are asleep or not home. With a programmable thermostat, you can set the temperature to be cooler when you are out for work or sleeping and warmer for when you need it.
There are also smart thermostats such as ecobee. Ecobee takes your programmable thermostat up to the next level. It uses sensors to tell whether or not you are in the room and adjusts the temperature automatically. You can also adjust the temperature using an app on your phone.
If you’re thinking about buying a new smart thermostat, ecobee is offering $25 off until the end of April with the codeh1save25a.
Plus, as a bonus Hydro One customers will get another $100 back if you apply to enroll your thermostat in Hydro One’s Bring Your Own Thermostat (BYOT) pilot program by April 30, and agree to let Hydro One make brief, limited adjustments to your thermostat during peak times.You can also earn an additional $25 if you fill out three brief surveys regarding your participation, for a total savings of $125. More info on the BYOT program is available here.
In order to participate, you must be a Hydro One customer, and your Wi-Fi thermostat must be connected to a central air conditioning system. Heat pump systems other than air source are not eligible for the pilot.
I do have some more ideas on how to make the #totsreno home even more energy efficient for next winter (installing the smart thermostat is one) and will keep you updated with all of the progress.