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Small changes mean big savings for Team Power Smart member

It's no surprise that Team Power Smart members know the secret to saving energy. For Marta Fehr, one of her key inspirations is saving precious resources for future generations.

"I don't think that we as human beings need to use everything that's available," she says. "I'm careful with food, with energy, with the way I drive my vehicle. I've always been that way. Right now I'm that way of necessity as well as choice. But I was always saying 'Turn out the lights!' when I had my boys at home."

Small effort, big results

Fehr says most of the ways she works to save energy involve little effort for big returns. "I use plastic on my windows, I have almost all CFLs for my lights, I use a countertop convection oven instead of my conventional one and cook multiple meals at the same time, I have motion sensors on all my outdoor fixtures," she explains.

When it comes to heating and cooling, Marta relies on simple tactics that work.

"I have a ceiling fan at top of stairs to equalize temperature throughout house, and, in the summer, I use Mother Nature's air conditioning by opening the windows overnight and closing the house up early in the morning," she says.

Just the right amount of heat

She's always focused on saving where she can, but in the past few years, the already resourceful senior has had to get even more prudent, she explains. "I live alone on one acre in a good-sized house that does take some energy to heat," she explains. "And I pretty much live off my basic old age pension supplement plus a little bit of CPP [Canada Pension]."

She once used a wood stove to heat the house, but had more recently switched to oil, then to electric heat. "My mother had come to live with me. My wood burner was not that big, so if it went out, the house was too cold for her. Using oil heat created cold breezes in the house. Then I switched to electric heat."

But when she did renovations two years ago, Fehr switched back to a wood stove. She's careful to ensure she's not creating new problems by burning wood. She has an efficient insert in her stove that burns the smoke twice, and she's selective about the wood she burns. "Common sense tells me that if I burn a hot fire, there is less smoke and it's a lot cleaner. I think the moisture level in the wood is the most important factor in preventing pollution," she explains.

A spike in savings

As a Team Power Smart member, she watches her energy use on the graph in her member's toolbox. "There's a spike from when we were renovating. We used more energy, as we were drywalling in wintertime and using fans and space heaters. But now the graph has dropped to nothing."

And that's not the only thing that's dropped. Her energy expenses have gone down too. "I've gone from spending $1,200 to $1,500 a year down to about $500 a year. That makes a big difference, especially on a small income."