The smart meter in your home can help you manage your electricity costs. To do this, you'll need to shift or reduce energy use at higher-priced times of the day. Here are some simple ways you can make the shift with Time-of-use pricing:
First, focus in on the electricity guzzlers in your home – and how you use them during peak times.
- Cut your air conditioning costs.
Making wise use of your air conditioner will have the biggest impact on your summer energy bill.
Set your air conditioner a few degrees higher than you normally would, and turn it off when no-one is home.
You can also help your air conditioner work more efficiently:
- Replace or clean the filters once a month.
- Use a ceiling fan to circulate the cold air. This will allow you to raise the thermostat setting by a few degrees without a noticeable difference.
- Close shades and curtains on the sunny side of the house.
- Try setting your dishwasher to start after 7pm when off-peak prices begin. If your dishwasher has a timer – use it.
- Clothes dryers consume a lot of energy. Wait until evening or the weekend and you'll pay a third of the cost.
- Electric water heaters can really make electricity use spike as they refill and heat water. If you reduce the amount of hot water you use during peak periods, you also reduce the amount of electricity you use during these times.
- If you have a pool, run your pump and heater during off-peak hours. You may only need to run your pump for six or eight hours a day.
- Your electric stove is also a high energy user – but there are a lot of simple ways you can minimize these costs at peak times:
- Match the pots to the element size, make sure the bottoms of your pans are flat and put the lids on.
- Minimize the pre-heating time for your oven. Unless you are baking, you may not even need to pre-heat.
- Better yet, use a crock pot, toaster oven or a small microwave – you'll use less energy, and you won't be creating extra heat in the house on hot days.
Target inefficiencies and save money
The other path to savings is to bring your overall energy use down.
Even the small losses of electricity add up. The average Canadian home has 25 electronic devices that use standby power which can add up to 10 per cent of household electricity consumption. Plug these devices (TVs, VCRs, etc..) into a power bar, which cuts off the supply of electricity.
- Turn your computer monitor off if you are not going to use it for 20 minutes, and turn your computer off if you're not going to use it in the next two hours.
- Fix water leaks and drafts, clean filters on air conditioners and furnaces and generally keep your appliances in good working order.
- Buy Energy Star rated products for your home. Switching to the most energy-efficient products can save you hundreds of dollars in energy costs.
It's important to look at your electricity bills over the longer period. One bill won't provide the whole picture. You'll likely find that even if you pay a little more during the summer and winter months, you could just as easily save money during the spring and autumn.
Information is power
Your new electricity bill will provide you with information about how much electricity you are using during the various peak periods. Many local distribution companies (LDC) will also provide your previous day's electricity consumption information on the web.
You can also drill down deeper to target even greater savings. There are a number of monitoring tools that seek out the energy hogs in your home. You can also use watt meters to test your appliances to see how much energy they consume.
The saveONenergy program from the Ontario Power Authority offers a wide range of incentives, tools, and tips to help consumers manage the amount of energy they use throughout the home.