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Seven tips to keep warm, save money this winter

Slippers by the fire

Electricity costs can double as cold arrives and days get shorter

Posted by Rob Klovance

Despite the warning that B.C. could experience one of its coldest winters ever, the Big Freeze has yet to arrive. But we are experiencing slightly lower temperatures than usual, and that means our energy bills could be on the rise.

In winter, our electricity bills can almost double as heat is turned up and lights and electronics are on longer. Space heating alone can account for 40 to 50 per cent of our electricity bills.

Here are our top seven tips for keeping warm while saving money this winter:

  • Draft-proof your home – Sealing the gaps and cracks with caulking and weather stripping is one of the most cost-effective steps you can take to keep the heat inside your home, reducing heat loss by up to 10 per cent.
  •  Manage your thermostat – Install a programmable thermostat. Most people are comfortable sitting reading or watching TV at 21 C, working around the house at 20 C, and sleeping at 16 C. Heating costs rise about 5 per cent for every degree above 20 C that you set your thermostat.
  • Shade your windows – Using blinds or drapes on your windows provide insulation in the winter and summer. Heat loss from windows can account for 10 to 25 per cent of your heating bill in winter.
  • Maintain your heating system – Tune up your heating equipment and continue to give it regular maintenance in order to increase its energy efficiency.
  • Add or upgrade insulation - Upgrading your heating system might make your home warmer, but if it can't hold the heat in, you'll be wasting energy. Start in areas that lose the most heat, such as attics, basements and crawlspaces.
  • Ensure your fireplace is efficient – With wood-burning fireplaces, close the damper tightly when the fireplace is not in use. This can dramatically reduce heat loss. If you use the fireplace only occasionally, install glass doors. They act as a barrier against warm air loss up the chimney and stop the pull of cold outside air into the home.
  • Use energy-efficient lighting – LEDs use at least 75 per cent less energy than incandescent lighting and can last about 20 years based on average household use. ENERGY STAR LEDs come on quickly, are durable and good for dimming.

For more energy-saving tips, see our complete Green Your Home guide. And if you're up to some significant energy upgrades, keep in mind that – through March 31, 2012 – you can combine energy-upgrade incentives offered by LiveSmart BC.

Learn more about that limited-time offer to combine provincial and federal incentives.