I am an ice queen. And my utility bills prove it.

Wintertime can be a huge energy suck for anyone who works from home. Doubly so if – like me – you’re cold all the time! My experience has been that I can’t drop my thermostat down to “nobody’s-home mode” (i.e. 17C to 20C) because my teeth start chattering. And yet, cranking up the thermostat isn’t the best answer, either.

According to Natural Resources Canada, the smart money is on boosting my home’s energy efficiency. This will allow me to trim my energy bill while reducing my home’s CO2 emissions (greenhouse gas emissions like CO2, are a major contributor to climate change).

While some big-ticket changes will have to wait (Energy Star replacement windows, I’m looking at you!), there are smaller everyday ways that we work-from-home types can make to boost comfort and energy efficiency. They’re pretty effective for everybody, in fact.

Here are 5 easy, low-cost, start-right-now energy-saving hacks for every room in your home. Want to join me in seeing how they work out?

1. Install a programmable thermostat

According to Natural Resources Canada, you could save up to 2 per cent off your heating bill for every degree you roll back the temperature.

If your house clears out during the day, set your thermostat to a cool 18C or so. If you stay home during the days, experiment to find what temperature you can live with if you pull on an extra fleecy top and a toque. Or consider working at a library or neighbourhood café. In any case, always lower the heat around bedtime.

2. Go with the (low) flow

Swapping your faucets and shower-head for low-flow models saves water and the energy required to heat it. But here’s an insider tip. My fave water- and energy-saving hack is to…avoid bathing.

Just kidding. Sort of.

Let me explain: I work out five days a week so nearly all my showers take place at the gym. Since I’m overheated, I happily take super-short “navy showers” which would be intolerable at home on a chilly morning. This hack lets me conserve resources, trim my home utility bills and get the most from my gym membership. Win-win-win!

3. Grab a better power bar

They’re not all the same! Natural Resources Canada recommends purchasing a model featuring a timer or master plug that can power down devices that are not in use. This eliminates a significant source of phantom energy use in the home: the consumption of standby power.

4. Embrace a bright idea

Hands up if you’re late to the CFL or LED game. Admittedly, aside from installing CFL bulbs on my porch and in less trafficked rooms of my home, I’ve been an incandescent light bulb holdout. But a trip to a big-box home improvement store made me realize I was missing the boat on this no-brainer of an energy saver. While I used to associate CFLs with cool, un-atmospheric light, the lit-up, Vegas-style product displays at the big-box store (you won’t see that at the supermarket!) really illustrated for me how warm and bright CFLs can be – ideal for any room in the home.

5. Unplug for the holidays

Finally, are you going away for the weekend or heading on vacation? Unplug as many appliances and devices as you can, so you’re not paying for passive energy use.

This is an easy one, but also and easy-to-forget one, so I’m adding it to my pre-trip to-do list.


What about you? What’s your easiest energy-saving tip?

Want to learn more? Check out this energy-saving cheat sheet from Natural Resources Canada.

Yuki Hayashi

Author Yuki Hayashi

Yuki Hayashi is a health and fitness writer whose writing has appeared in Women’s Running, Canadian Living, Chatelaine, Besthealthmag.ca and other publications. An avid runner and triathlete, she is an Ironman finisher, and enjoys road races ranging from 5K to marathons. She’s a volunteer coach with a youth running group, and in her spare time (what spare time?!) loves cooking, hiking and traveling to outdoor-adventure destinations.

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