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Coquitlam man finds ways to lower larger home's energy costs

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An 800-square foot apartment was getting too small for Team Power Smart member Benjamin Ng and his wife. So it was off to Coquitlam for a move into a 1,200-square foot townhome.

And everything was great — more space, separate entrance, nice new neighbourhood — until the energy costs of a larger home became apparent.

"When I got my second [two-month] bill, I noticed the energy use had gone up a lot," say Ng. "The bill came for $260, a big jump from my old apartment's bill of around $80 to $120."

Ng refused to accept that a $260 bill for two months was the new normal. "I thought: 'Wow, I have to look for ways to reduce my energy use!'"

The result: Ng's third bill dropped to $190 and his fourth to $170.

Here's how he did it.

Behavioural changes are the easiest

Ng started by making some changes in his energy habits — simple steps any Team Power Smart member could try, including hanging his clothes to dry instead of using the dryer and heating only the rooms he was using.

Ng also decided to stop using his automatic garage door opener to allow him to walk through his garage to where his car is parked in the driveway.

"That meant I had to open and close the garage door at least four times a day," he says. "Now I go out the front door. It only takes an extra moment to get to the car, and saves the energy of opening the garage door."

Switch to CFL and LED bulbs works in many ways

Ng also changed all his light bulbs from halogen to CFL or LED. And the changes have made a difference.

"I honestly like the new light bulbs," he says. "The halogen ones made my house so hot. My house is cooler at night with the LEDs."

Hand wash or dishwasher? That's the question

Ng also started hand washing his dishes instead of using the dishwasher. It turns out, energy efficient dish washing is the subject of some debate.

The best method depends on how you hand wash dishes and — most important of all — whether you turn off the heat setting on your dishwasher and let your dishes air dry. The biggest energy draw in dish washing is heating the water, so for most people, using a dishwasher is more efficient because it tends to use less hot water overall.

True "team" dedication

Ng did research online to learn how to reduce his energy use. As a Team Power Smart member, he knew where to look.

"I used the BC Hydro Team Power Smart site and those [Green Your Home] tips. I also searched around on Google for additional tips. For example, I didn't know a garage door uses a lot of energy before I did the research."

Ng is happy to be taking steps to use energy more efficiently. "I want to help protect the environment. The amount of energy I save might not make a big difference, but it plays a part. And it saves me money on my electricity bills too, so it's a win-win situation."