How to save on home heating bills this winter
The average homeowner or tenant has no control over the market price of gas or electricity, and this can be the source of a great deal of anxiety, especially when prices are on the rise.
Energy market analysts predict that Canadian home energy costs will rise significantly this winter, due to a combination of climate, domestic supply, global demand and other factors.
According to Martin Hrobsky, vice-president of public affairs at market research firm Ipsos, Canadians’ anxiety levels are also rising.
« Canadians are very concerned about the rising cost of living. In fact, inflation is the second most important issue for Canadians right now, right behind health care, » Hrobsky told CTVNews.ca in an email on Friday. « About half of Canadians told us they were worried about their ability to afford rising utility costs this winter. »
Asked by Ipsos which areas of inflation would have the most impact on their quality of life, 37% of respondents mentioned rising electricity and natural gas prices. Hrobsky said those who already pay the most for heating, which often includes people who use electricity to heat their homes, would be hit the hardest.
However, he said the rising cost of natural gas due to inflation and the war in Ukraine will mean « even those using natural gas, which is historically more cost-effective, will feel the pinch this winter. »
Although the average Canadian has no influence on the factors that contribute to the market price of utilities, there are ways for homeowners and tenants who pay for their utilities themselves to save energy in order to reduce their bills a bit.
Since home heating accounts for 63.6% of the energy used in homes, according to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), here are some strategies you might consider to get the most out of heating your home this winter.
• Find out if it is cheaper to heat your home with electricity or gas. Depending on where you live and energy prices, it may be more affordable to heat your home using one or the other. Websites like RateHub.ca and EnergyRates.ca offer tools people can use to compare them.
• Check for drafts and seal cracks around windows and doors where cold air can enter. According to Natural Resources Canada, air leaks through chimneys, vents, plumbing pipes and electrical boxes in the attic can also cause significant heat loss.
• Whether your windows are drafty or not, consider using heat shrink plastic on your windows to act as another barrier and help seal in the heat of your home.
• Make sure your home is well insulated. This slows the rate of heat loss, which improves energy consumption and can help save money. Residents upgrading the insulation of an attic, cathedral ceiling, flat roof, exterior wall, exposed floor, basement or crawl space could be eligible for a renovation grant of up to $5,000 through NRCAN.
• Set your thermostat to a lower temperature. EnergyRates.ca reports that lowering the temperature by one degree in winter can generate savings of up to five percent.
• Layer. Instead of turning up the thermostat, put on a sweater or blanket and warm socks.
• Use thick rugs to make floors less cold and reduce the need to raise your thermostat.
• Look for renovation discounts. There are many grant and funding opportunities across Canada for homeowners planning energy-efficient improvements to their home. You can find federal grants and rebates on the NRCan website, but some municipalities offer them as well.
Finally, some provinces have deregulated energy markets that allow consumers to choose their retailers. In these markets, it’s always worth checking current rates to see if you can save money by switching to another retailer.