Heating Efficiency

About 23% of the electricity used in the average Saskatchewan home is for heating. A combination of fixes and changes can help reduce your home heating bill. Some of the quickest ways to reduce heating costs is to make smart decisions when using energy.

Drafts can add to the heating cost when cold air leaks through tiny spaces around windows. Sealing the spaces around the leaky windows can help keep a home warm, as well as keep the home cool in the summer. Insulation is another way to keep heat inside your home. Problems with the insulation, or missing insulation, can add to heating bills.

  • Open curtains and blinds during the day to let heat in, and close them at night to help keep the heat inside your home. During winter, keep the draperies and shades on your south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sunlight to enter your home and closed at night to reduce the chill you may feel from cold windows. During summer, keep the window coverings closed during the day to block the sun’s heat.
  • Vacuum baseboard heaters at least twice a year to prevent dust from building up, so heat can more easily move through your house.
  • Clean warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators as needed; make sure they’re not blocked by furniture, carpeting, or drapes.
  • If you have a fuel-burning furnace, stove or other appliance or an attached garage, install a carbon monoxide (CO) monitor to alert you to harmful CO levels.
  • A well placed tree, shrub, or vine can deliver effective shade, act as a windbreak, and reduce your energy bills.

Furnaces

  • When you buy an ENERGY STAR® furnace in Saskatchewan you save by not paying the PST.
  • For maximum energy efficiency install a high-efficiency ENERGY STAR® furnace.
  • When choosing a high-efficiency furnace, ensure it has a higher-efficiency fan motor as well to reduce electricity consumption.
  • For every degree (Celsius) you lower on your thermostat for an eight hour period, you can save up to two percent on your heating costs.
  • Furnace filters should be cleaned regularly and ensure your chimney and outdoor vents are not blocked.
  • Have a professional inspect your furnace every fall to ensure it is working efficiently. If your furnace is taken care of, it will be safer, use less electricity and cost less to operate.
  • If your furnace has a continuous pilot light, shut off the pilot light for the summer and have a technician relight it in the fall during your annual inspection.

Space Heaters

  • A space heater used eight hours a day can cost over $21 a month to operate, making it one of the worst winter power culprits.
  • Turn off your space heater when you leave the room or go to bed at night.

Thermostats

  • Set your programmable thermostat as low as is comfortable in the winter and as high as is comfortable in the summer.
  • Install a programmable thermostat that you can set to automatically lower the temperature when you normally leave the house or go to bed. You can also set it to automatically raise the temperature shortly before you get up in the morning. If you lower your heat when you don’t need it, you could save up to $65 a year.
  • By simply lowering your thermostat by two degrees for eight hours every night, in the winter, you’ll save approximately four percent on your heating bill.
  • Install an ENERGY STAR® programmable thermostat away from natural cool and hot spots in your home. ENERGY STAR® programmable thermostats provide more flexibility than standard models and perform one or more of the following functions: Save and repeat multiple daily settings, which you can change when needed without affecting the rest of the daily or weekly program; store four or more temperature settings a day; and adjust heating or air conditioning turn-on times as the outside temperature changes.
  • Keep windows near your thermostat tightly closed; otherwise it will keep your furnace working after the rest of the house is heated to the desired temperature.

Water Heaters

  • Your water heater is one of the biggest energy users in your home, second only to the furnace. It typically accounts for about 18% of your utility bill.
  • Make sure your water heater is insulated properly.
  • Taking long hot showers is an expensive way to warm up. Consider taking short showers instead.
  • If you’re keeping an older hot water appliance, insulate the heater and the first meter of piping. The insulation pays for itself by preventing energy being wasted into thin air.
  • Lower the thermostat to 55 degrees to save energy. Make sure it is at 55 degrees and not any lower, as this would risk the growth of disease-carrying bacteria such as legionella. Some older dishwashers need to have the water at 60 degrees in order to work properly. If your dishwasher doesn’t have an element to boost the temperature, you may have to set the thermostat at 60 degrees.
  • Install aerating, low-flow faucets and showerheads.
  • Repair leaky faucets promptly; a leaky faucet wastes gallons of water in a short period of time.
  • If you are in the market for a new dishwasher or clothes washer, consider buying an efficient, water-saving ENERGY STAR® model to reduce hot water use.
  • Drain a quart of water from your water tank every 3 months to remove sediment that impedes heat transfer and lowers the efficiency of your heater.
  • Consider natural gas on-demand or tankless water heaters, which heat water directly without using a storage tank. Researchers have found energy savings can be up to 30% compared with a standard natural gas storage tank water heater.

Hot tubs

  • Turn your hot tub thermostat down if you won’t be using it for a week or more. It costs less to re-heat your water than to always keep it hot.
  • Make sure your hot tub cover fits properly and is in good condition. Keep your hot tub covered as much as possible. Adding a floating thermal blanket under the cover will help retain even more heat.
  • Put your hot tub in a sheltered area to prevent wind from cooling the water down.
  • Heating water is a great use of solar power. If you have a swimming pool or hot tub, you can use solar power to cut pool heating costs. Most solar pool heating systems are cost competitive with conventional systems and have very low operating costs. It’s actually the most cost-effective use of solar energy.

Fireplaces

  • Keep your fireplace damper closed unless you have a fire going. An open damper can let as much as 8 percent of your heat go out the chimney. The warmth from a fire on the hearth generally doesn't radiate through the house; the heat gain is confined to the room with the fireplace. In fact, a considerable amount of heated air from other parts of the house can go wastefully up the chimney when a fire is going.
  • To lessen heat loss when you use your fireplace and the furnace is on, lower the thermostat. Some warmed air will still be lost, but the furnace won't have to use as much fuel to keep the rest of the house at its usual temperature.
  • Close all doors and warm air ducts to the room with the fireplace, and open a window near the fireplace half an inch to an inch. Air needed by the fire will be provided through the open window, and the amount of heated air drawn from the rest of the house will be reduced.