Buy ENERGY STAR® and read product labels
When it's time for new lighting, or a new appliance, computer, TV, audio or video device, always look for the ENERGY STAR label before you buy. The dollars you spend upgrading to an energy-efficient product will pay off in lower electricity costs for years.
Start with lighting, as the evolution of LED technology in particular, has opened the door to big savings as replacements for traditional incandescent lighting, which is being phased out in B.C. Choose ENERGY STAR appliances, too, and look for seasonal BC Hydro rebates and retail partner promotions to help save you even more.
Generally more expensive than other lighting options, ENERGY STAR LEDs save money because they use at least 75% less energy than incandescent lighting and last a minimum of 15,000 hours, or 15 years based on average household use.
That life span is about 15 to 20 times longer than incandescent lighting, and about three times longer than CFLs.
ENERGY STAR light fixtures use 75% less energy than standard incandescent ones. And there are now a wide variety of ENERGY STAR-approved light fixtures, from desk and floor lamps to hardwired lighting, offering choices to suit your needs and décor, indoors and out.
By switching to energy-efficient lamps, such as compact fluorescent floodlights, metal halide or high-pressure sodium lights, you can reduce the energy you use. For example, high-pressure sodium lamps use 70% less energy than a standard incandescent floodlight and last up to 10 times as long.
Switch two 100-watt incandescent lights – operating at 3 hours a day – to two 25-watt CFLs to save $16 a year.
See our guide to outdoor lighting for safety and security [PDF, 810 KB] for more information.
Decorating your home with LED lights could reduce holiday lighting electricity use by up to 90%. For a B.C. house that operates holiday lights for six hours a day through the month of December, replacing the incandescent strands with LEDs would save you about $27 in energy costs for the month.
Each hour that an unneeded light operates represents an unnecessary expense. Having your lights on dimmers or timers, and some appliances on timers, can increase comfort and safety in the home. And motion sensors are a good choice for controlling outdoor security lighting.
Heating water accounts for 90% of the energy consumption of washing machines. An ENERGY STAR front-loading machine can cut water use by nearly 40% and electricity use up to 65% compared to a conventional top loader.
Electric clothes dryers are estimated to account for 12% or more of total electricity costs for the typical household. While dryer efficiency is improving, and ENERGY STAR rated dryers are now available, hang-drying clothing at least part of the time is the best way to save money on drying laundry.
Replace a fridge that's 10 years old or older with a new ENERGY STAR rated model and you could save $40 or more per year. Unplug and remove an old, second fridge or freezer and save up to $85 a year.
You can save about 15% of your dishwasher's electricity use by selecting the air-dry cycle or opening the dishwasher door instead of using the heat drying cycle. Also, consider replacing your older model dishwasher with a new ENERGY STAR one and you could save up to $40 a year.
If you require a stand-alone freezer, there are two options: upright (front-loading) and chest (top-loading) freezers. Chest freezers are about 25% more efficient than uprights.
Laptops or desktops labelled with the ENERGY STAR symbol use between 30 and 60 per cent less energy than conventional models, depending on how they are used. And ENERGY STAR laptops are the most efficient option.
Also consider the size of your monitor. A 17-inch monitor uses 30 per more energy than a 15-inch monitor. Look for ENERGY STAR labelled monitors, as they are more energy efficient.
ENERGY STAR rated televisions use at least 30% less electricity than their counterparts. Engineered to be the best of ENERGY STAR, TVs labelled with Power Smart messaging give you the same features as a standard model, but more benefits.
Use our energy-efficient electronics search tool to find a TV that meets the highest efficiency standards.
Only choose the TV size as large as needed. Generally speaking, you can rely on the following calculation to determine the right size TV for you: distance between the screen front and the couch ÷ 2.5. For example, if you sit approximately 8.75 feet (105 inches) from your TV, choose a 42-inch HDTV to get the most out of your viewing experience.
Newer game consoles, such as the PS4 and Xbox One, require more electricity because of their increased capabilities. Many of these devices also use significant amounts of "standby" electricity while supposedly in off mode.
When being used for watching television and movies, game consoles can require 35% to 40% more electricity than other media streaming devices.
Learn more about the electricity use of game consoles and tips for how you can reduce it.
A set-top box, more commonly known as a PVR, is the box you rent or purchase and connect to your TV in order to receive signals from your TV service provider. Most new set top boxes feature PVR capability and function as 24/7, always-on components that, on average, cost about $25 a year to operate.
ENERGY STAR set-top boxes are at least 30% more efficient than conventional models, and the ENERGY STAR model TELUS has chosen for the B.C. market is at least 50% more efficient than conventional models.
Heating & cooling
In some areas of B.C., using a heat pump as part of your year-round heating and cooling system can significantly cut your heating costs. Savings will vary depending on the fuel and efficiency of your current system.
If you use the cooling function of a heat pump where you didn't previously use air conditioners or other mechanized cooling, it will lead to increased energy use and costs. And it generally makes sense to upgrade insulation and draftproof your home before upgrading your heating system.
ENERGY STAR air conditioners are comparably priced to standard models and they tend to be higher quality as well as more efficient to save you money in the long term. Set your air conditioner to 25.5°C (78°F) or higher, as you can save between 3% and 5% in your home cooling costs for every degree you raise it.
When buying a hot water heater, consider the size of your home, number of occupants and your typical water use. Storage tanks are the most common type in Canada and come in gas or electric models.
If you're looking for electric water heating, check out our hot water tank sizing guide [PDF, 18 KB] to help determine what size and wattage you'll need. Storage tanks cost between $300 and $500, depending on the size and model.
If you've been considering a tankless option for your water heating, they're currently only available in gas models. For gas hot water heating, check out FortisBC. Tankless models cost more up front (around $800 to $1,200) than storage tanks and can have higher installation costs.
Home energy monitors can provide you with real-time information about your household's electricity use – in kilowatts, and dollars and cents.
You may already be using our online electricity tracking tools to stay on top of your daily electricity use, but energy monitors track the electricity you and your family are using in real time. This means when you turn on your clothes dryer, dishwasher, or other electric appliances or devices, your home energy monitor will show you the real time electricity usage – and cost.
If you're looking to upgrade or install energy-efficient windows, always look for the ENERGY STAR symbol. These windows can cut your annual energy costs by up to 20%. Windows are a relatively expensive place to make energy efficient changes, so upgrades are best done when building a home or renovating.
Learn more about energy-efficient windows from Natural Resources Canada.
Even though they might be turned off, leaving your electronics plugged in contributes to as much as 10% of your electricity bill.
To reduce standby power use, consider using an advanced power strip, which does what traditional power bars can't. It switches off power to devices when they are not in use, and through the use of different types of outlets, can switch off some components while others, like your PVR, stay on to record your favourite T.V. show.