Lowering Those Winter Power Bills - Part 1

Energy Conservation

Nov 09, 2012  Comment

With the cold and dark months upon us, it will come as no surprise to note that most Yukon homes use more energy in the winter. Energy bills can climb dramatically as heat is turned up and lights and electronics are on longer. If you live in an electrically heated house, space heating alone can account for 40 to 50 per cent of the annual electricity bills for a home built to City of Whitehorse standards, and much more if it is an older poorly insulated home.

In rough numbers, an older electrically heated home with 2x4 walls can have a January electrical bill that is as much as seven times what a July electric bill might be. A 2x6 home could have a January electric bill about five times what the bill might be in July. A home built to City of Whitehorse energy standards would have a January electric bill about three times what the July electric bill might be. A super insulated (SuperGreen) home, on the other hand would have a January electric that is about two times the amount of a July electric bill.

Today we're starting a series with some tips on how to winterize your home, and keep those power bills as low as possible.

Home Energy Audit
We encourage you to get an ecoEnergy evaluation done through the Yukon Housing Corporation. The evaluation costs $250, but is eligible for a $75 rebate from the Energy Solution Centre. The energy evaluation will give you a standardized evaluation of the house‘s energy use and will help identify where the air leaks are in the house so they can be corrected. As well, you'll receive advice from the energy evaluator about the most cost effective energy upgrades available to you.

Even if your home doesn't have visible cracks or leaks, you can still be losing heat if you have inefficient insulation, particularly if you have an older home. If your home is at least 10 years old, your insulation may have sagged or settled over time, leaving gaps and seams. Consider upgrading your insulation to newer options that save energy.

• Start in areas that lose the most heat, such as basements, crawl spaces and attics. A well sealed and well insulated attic can reduce year-round energy use by up to 15 percent.

• Used appropriately, spray foam insulation can be used for air sealing and insulation.

• Install insulation on the underside of the floor in an unheated or vented crawl space. Fiberglass batts or blankets are usually easiest. Install an air and moisture barrier on the ground before insulating. It is recommended that the bottom of the floor joists be covered in insulation, or in the foam insulation can be applied to the floor and walls of the crawl space, and the crawl space heated.

• Upgrade your insulation when you're undergoing other renovations, such as replacing a roof or upgrading a basement. You'll save time and it's a low cost way to add energy efficiency to your project.

Watch for more in this series in the days ahead.


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