December 8 2020, 11:26 AM
For many New Brunswickers, this will be the first winter that family members will be home on weekdays, whether they’re working remotely or doing virtual learning.
This pandemic-related lifestyle change has many impacts, from less lonely pets to going through more groceries.
Telecommuting can also result in higher than expected energy bills because people are home more often.
That’s why we want to share these 12 easy energy saving tips. By making small adjustments at home, you can save energy and reduce your bill – all while helping the environment.
You can find these tips and more by accessing the My Energy Portal on our website. If you’re ready to make upgrades to your home’s efficiency, check out the advice and incentives offered through our Total Home Energy Savings Program.
Manage your technology
- Set your computer and monitor to go into "sleep" or "hibernate" mode after 20 minutes of inactivity. These modes draw less power while keeping programs open for when you return to work. Don’t bother with a screensaver – it uses just as much energy as an active computer.
- Don’t forget to turn off your computer at night and on weekends. This could save you up to one-third of your computer’s energy costs.
- Many electronic devices continue to draw power even when they are turned off – this is known as phantom power. By unplugging devices and chargers when they are not in use, you can avoid paying for this extra energy. This includes devices such as TVs, video game systems, printers, coffee makers and cell phone chargers. If a device has a rectangular adapter box on its plug that stays warm, it’s a sure sign that it’s drawing power even when off.
- Consider using power bars for devices that are difficult to unplug frequently. With a flip of the switch, you can easily cut off power to multiple devices at once, saving time, energy, and money.
- When purchasing new home office equipment, always choose ones that are energy efficient.
Optimize your lighting
- Take advantage of natural light to reduce your need for artificial lighting. Plus, natural light is known to be good for your mental health and productivity.
- While overhead bulbs can brighten a space, they often use more light than you need. Using a kitchen counter light while preparing dinner, or a small lamp to read, brings better light to the task at hand and saves energy. Using directed light while working also reduces eye strain.
- Switch bulbs to LEDs to reduce the amount of electricity used. Consider using smart bulbs with timers or phone apps to customize your lighting colour, timing and brightness.
Adjust your heating
- Put on a cozy sweater and try lowering your thermostat a few degrees. You can save about 2% on your heating bills by simply turning your thermostat down 1°C for eight hours. A cooler workspace can also improve alertness.
- Run ceiling fans at low speed in reverse during the winter, which creates an updraft that sends warmer air pooled near the ceiling back down into the living space.
- Check your heating system air filters and replace them if they are dirty. Clean filters use less energy and reduce the strain on your system.
- Let the sun help heat your home. South-facing windows have the most potential for heat gain. Keep the drapes open and windows clear in order to let the most light in.
June 28 2019, 14:14 PM
Summer can be the perfect time for home renovations and energy efficiency should be top of mind. Our Total Home Energy Savings Program can help. Big or small- a renovation can make a big impact on the look, comfort and even value of your home. But where should you start? We’ve asked our in-house building expert, Lauren Lipka for his top tips to help make your renovation a success.
Start with a plan
Sounds simple- but a little bit of planning can go a long way to making your renovation a success. Write down your goals, what your needs are and include a wish list or Pinterest inspiration board. That all-white kitchen, though stunning, might not be the right fit if you like to cook big meals or have young kids.
From his years of building experience with the Canadian Home Builders Association, Lauren says that your renovation goals should reflect how you live day-to-day. You’ll want to factor in things like how people move through, and use the space you’re renovating. You’ll want to make sure your goals and plan fit into your budget.
Find your perfect contractors
Whether it’s a big or small renovation, a reputable contractor can help make sure the job is done right; under your budget and help you navigate and get any needed permits. Home renovations can come with lots of surprises. A reputable contractor can help you make the best calls when an unexpected expense or issue pops up mid-reno. They also know the ins and outs of local and National building codes and can ensure your renovation is done the right way to help keep you safe. Great contractors have a track record of satisfied customers and can provide you with customer references upon request. We encourage customers to obtain three quotes and references prior to selecting a contractor.
Make Your Home Energy Efficient
Want a renovation that puts money back in your pocket? Consider how you can build efficiency into your plan. Upgrading appliances? Look for the ENERGY STAR® certified label. Redoing your kitchen? Opt for LED lighting to brighten up your cooking space.
If you’re doing a major remodel, Lauren recommends having a certified Energy Advisor come and do an evaluation of your home through the Total Home Energy Savings Program. These evaluations show you where heat or cool air are leaking from your home. Energy Advisors will recommend upgrades that help improve your home’s envelope to keep your heating or cooling inside where it belongs. This keeps you and your family more comfortable year round. Plus, when you’re not heating the outdoors, it’s good for your wallet too. Check out this video to see what else is involved in an energy evaluation.
Make Your Home Healthier
What better outcome from a renovation than to have a healthy, comfortable home for you and your family? This can be of even bigger benefit if someone in your home suffers from allergies, asthma or other health conditions. Consider ENERGY STAR certified air exchangers, dehumidifiers or heat pumps when doing your renovation. They’ll not only make the air in your home cleaner, but they’ll help save you money in the long run too.
Did you know there are lots of products on the market that are sustainably made or environmentally friendly? From lumber to flooring, there are many ways you can green up your renovation. Cork flooring is one flooring option that’s a sustainable choice. Consider natural stone for counter tops for a sleek, yet environmentally friendly option. Roof shingles made from recycled plastic, sustainably certified lumber and composite beams are all great options as well. Check with your contractor or local renovation store for the best green options near you.
What is your biggest renovation lesson? Tell us about it in the comments below!
May 9 2019, 13:20 PM
What does it take to energize efficiency? We rounded up some of the top experts in building, industry, marketing and of course, efficiency this week for our second annual Energizing Efficiency Conference to find out.
If you weren’t fortunate enough to be an attendee this year, we captured the top takeaways from our speakers to help spark your own energy efficiency journey.
- “Energy efficiency touches every sector of the economy”, Corey Diamond, the executive director of Efficiency Canada told conference attendees. The efficiency sector is poised for a major breakthrough as a job creator and agent of change. He said the four keys to the sector taking the next step will be moving beyond mere incremental change, unlocking private sector capital, moving towards a more comprehensive “value chain” of efficiency and mobilizing the message. Energy efficiency is Canada’s most plentiful and lowest-cost energy resource.
- How do we Market Energy Efficient Homes? According to Gunther Foerster of Progeny Modern Homes, we need to emphasize the cool factor, do the math and make the business case for a negligible energy bill and higher property values and we need to appeal to homeowners’ desire for a comfortable healthier home for their families.
- Commercial buildings need tune ups too! Building systems can be very complex, highly technical and often require integration between systems. Building use or occupancy can change. And, as equipment ages, its performance can change. Performance problems are often solved by treating the symptoms and not the actual cause. Luc Dugas of Maritech and Adam McMullin of the City of Barrie showed us how building recommissioning offers huge opportunities to save energy, decrease maintenance costs and promote tenant satisfaction and retention.
- Energy is the starting point for municipalities to meet their climate objectives. A Smart Energy Community seamlessly integrates local, renewable and conventional energy sources to efficiently, cleanly and affordably meet all its energy needs. It is a coveted, highly livable place to live, work, learn and play. Your community can get there by taking advantage of energy efficiency, integrating conventional networks, harnessing local energy opportunities and integrating land use. Eddie Oldfield of QUEST and Sara Mudge of NB Power are ready to work with communities in New Brunswick.
- Want to have success in the energy sector selling services, products, equipment, or programs? Mark Jewell is an expert in teaching people how to sell energy and efficiency. He says you need to learn to frame your offering using jargon and yardsticks that mean something to your customer. A manufacturing facility might focus on cost per unit, downtime vs operating time, health and safety incidents, energy cost per unit. A commercial building owner cares about rent per square foot, occupancy percentage, operating expenses, maintenance, or asset value. It’s about doing your research and speaking your customer’s language.
If you like what you see here, you can sign up for conference updates to find out when you can get your tickets to next year’s conference May 12 and 13 in Saint John, New Brunswick. If you’re interested in being a speaker at our conference next year, contact us at EESAdmin@nbpower.com.
December 12 2018, 15:52 PM
The holidays are almost here. For many, that means it’s time to dig out the lights, get out the holiday décor and trim those trees. Did you know it’s also a great time to use less energy? If you’re planning on stringing up some lights inside and outside your home this holiday, be sure to consider switching to LEDs (light emitting diodes.)
Using ENERGY STAR® certified LED lights is a great alternative to save power, since LED lights use less energy than traditional incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer. Traditional bulbs consume about 7 watts of electricity per hour, per bulb, while LEDs use about 2 watts per hour, per strand.
Let’s take a look at what that translates to in dollars.
Light bulb type
Strands of Lights (50 bulbs/ strand)
Total cost (at $.1059/ KwH)
*based on bulbs running for 6 hours a day for 31 days.
Another way you can control how much energy your holiday lights use, put both your indoor and outdoor lights on timers, and set them to turn on and off at set times.
Keep it safe
If you’ve got a lot of light-up decorations in your home, be careful not to plug too many into one outlet. It could result in heat building up in the wires, which could lead to a fire.
Here are a few other easy steps you can take in your home to help keep your family safe from electrical fires:
- Make sure all extension cords and electric decorations are marked for proper use.
- Turn off all indoor and outdoor decorations before going to sleep or leaving home.
- When decorating outdoors keep yourself at least 10 meters away from power lines to keep yourself safe from electrical arching.
- Make sure outdoor electric decorations are labelled for outdoor use.
- Carefully inspect each electrical decoration. Cracked or damaged sockets, loose or bare wires and loose connections may result in shock or fire.
- Modern lights have fused plugs, preventing sparks in case of a short circuit. Get rid of old lights that don’t have fuses and get a set of newer, safer lights.
By incorporating these habits into your routine each year, you can ensure your family has a safe, energy-efficient and happy holiday season. Visit the safety and save energy sections of our website for more great tips to use in your home.
September 7 2018, 11:25 AM
When looking at energy-efficiency upgrades as part of your home renovation, upgrading your home’s insulation will give you the biggest return on investment. In New Brunswick, 50% of an average home’s energy use goes to heating. Only 6% of the housing stock in New Brunswick is insulated up to the current standards of the National Building Code. Choosing the right home insulation type for your renovation will help you save energy at home during both the heating and cooling seasons. Read on to learn more about the 5 types of insulation you need to know to help you save energy at home.
How insulation works
When we heat or cool our homes, and they aren’t well insulated, our homes become less comfortable as the heat finds ways to escape (in the winter), and enter (in the summer). Insulation creates a barrier between the inside and outside of your home to slow heat from leaving or entering.
When looking at upgrading your home insulation, be sure to look at the r-value of your insulation. The r-value varies based on the type, density and thickness of the material being used. The higher the r-value, the better it will perform.
Home insulation types
- Blown-in insulation
This home insulation type is usually made of fiberglass or recycled paper fiber (known as cellulose.) It’s blown or sprayed into place and is ideal for hard-to-reach areas such as attics or wall cavities you don’t want to open up.
- Insulation batts
Precut sections of fiberglass or rock wool insulation. Can be used in floors, walls, attics and ceilings.
- Insulation rolls
Similar to insulation batts, but come in longer lengths- usually 20-40 feet. This insulation type is ideal for attics, floors and other areas where you need longer runs.
- Foam board insulation
This insulation type comes in rigid panels made of polystyrene and polyurethane. Can be used to insulate almost any part of your home, especially exterior walls underneath your siding.
Source: Brennan Builders
- Spray foam insulation
Latex or polyurethane spray foam can be sprayed either with a can to help seal around windows and doors, or through special equipment in areas like basements and crawlspaces.
How much insulation do I need?
The best way to find out how much insulation you need to add to your home is to have a certified energy advisor come to your home to perform an energy evaluation. You can register through our Total Home Energy Savings program to set up and evaluation and receive money back for upgrading your home’s insulation.
We recommend upgrading your home’s insulation to reach the following r-values to make your home more comfortable and help you save on your bills.
- Attic: R-60
- Sloped/Cathedral Ceilings: R-30
- Exterior/Main walls: R-30
- Basement/Crawlspace Walls: R-30
Is insulation the next upgrade on your home renovation to-do list? Tell us about it in the comments below!