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Start the New Year off with an Energy Saving Kit

Energy Saving Kit

New year, new start with Power Smart

Posted by Jacqueline Lambert

It's January, the optimal time for goal-setting and fresh starts.

This year I'm going with some pretty standard new year's resolutions. I'll make a budget and try to save some money, train to run a half marathon and put in some effort to be more environmentally friendly.

Luckily, saving money and saving the planet can go hand in hand. By installing a few items from the hardware store, I can increase energy efficiency in my home, save on my bill, and do my part to help the environment.

Qualified lower-income BC Hydro customers who want to save some money can take advantage of BC Hydro's Energy Saving Kit. The free kit comes equipped with simple, easy-to-install items to help you save energy, reduce your bill and help the environment.

The energy saving kit is a great way to get a jump-start on a new year's resolution to save some money. Here's a walkthrough of how to use and install some of the easy-to-find items available in the kit.

Woman covering a window with plastic for draftproofing

Keep warm, and save on heating

Unless your home is properly draftproofed, up to a third of heat is escaping through windows and doors. The Energy Saving Kit has a few easy-to-install products to help keep drafts at bay.

Foam weatherstripping works by creating a barrier against drafts through doors and windows. For installation, all you need are some scissors. Start by thoroughly cleaning the area, and allowing it to dry.

The foam tape is applied to the part of the frame that touches the exterior side of your door or window. Measure the edges and cut the weatherstripping to the appropriate length. Then peel away the paper backing and press the foam tape into place.

Seal in the savings

Another easy way to seal in the heat is to use foam gaskets, which help stop cold air from seeping through outlets and light switches on exterior walls of your home. Before installation, be sure to turn off electricity at the circuit breaker. If you aren't sure about installing these, your best bet is to ask for the help of an electrician or someone you know who is comfortable with home repairs.

To install the foam sealers, remove the cover plate from the outlet or switch with a screwdriver. Choose the gasket with appropriate pre-cut holes, remove the extra material from the holes, and then place the pad over the outlet or switch. Finish by reattaching the cover plate.

Woman looking in a fridge

Check the temperature

The appliance that likely uses the most electricity in your home is your refrigerator, because it's always on and working to cool down your food. One way to ensure it's running efficiently is to use a fridge and freezer thermometer. They're easy to install, and easy to use. Just remove the backing material and attach the card to a visible spot inside the fridge or freezer. After 15 minutes, check that the temperature inside your refrigerator is between 2°C and 3°C and your freezer is -18°C (0°F).

Man installing a water saving showerhead

Put your water to the test

Knowledge is power, and the Energy Saving Kit has a few ways for you to test if your water heater is set too high, or how efficient your current showerhead and taps are.

Make sure your water heater is set to offer the most amount of hot water with the least amount of energy waste. Set it so that it's at 60°C.  For safety, downstream of the heater, at the tub faucet or shower head, the water outlet temperature should not exceed 49°C.

This lower temperature can be achieved by installing a pressure balanced or thermostatic mixing valve before the fixture outlet. Limiting the faucet or shower head temperatures to 49°C reduces the likelihood of someone being injured.

Hot water can account for as much as 25 per cent of a household's total energy costs, and showers are a big part of hot water use in your home. The low-flow showerhead included in the kit uses up to 50 per cent less water.

To install, remove the old showerhead from the pipe by turning it counter-clockwise. Briefly turn the water on to rinse out the pipe, and then wipe clean the threads on the outside of the pipe. Wrap the thread-seal tape clockwise around the end of the pipe to prevent leaks, then screw the new showerhead onto the pipe and tighten by hand.

Want to save even more energy? Lower-income qualified households could be eligible to receive a free home energy assessment, personalized energy coaching, and installation of energy saving products through the Energy Conservation Assistance Program. Learn more and apply today.

Jacqueline Lambert is an editor with BC Hydro's content and social media team.