10 things you never knew could reduce your energy usage

There are plenty of tips online for reducing your energy usage, and you’ve likely heard most of them before. Most tips focus on high-impact ways to be more energy efficient and save as much money as possible.

But, it can be difficult to commit to these actions long-term, or easy to forget to keep doing them. In honour of being named one of Canada’s 2018 Greenest Employers, we wanted to share 10 ways to reduce your energy impact that you might not have been aware of, but that you can easily fit into your life.

1. Try swapping your desktop for a laptop.

Having a battery means laptops consume a lot less electricity than most desktop computers. Depending on which laptop you have, you could use up to 80% less energy than a desktop computer. Plus, laptops are also a lot more convenient, too!


2. Smarter smartphone charging.

While your smartphone doesn’t use a lot of power, if we all changed the way we charge, collectively, we could save a LOT of power - and charge our phones a lot faster at the same time. Try turning your phone off, or putting it in airplane mode - it’ll charge up much quicker. Also, unplug it when it’s done - leaving it plugged in overnight uses way more energy than you need. And if you want to be really energy efficient, remove your case and keep your phone out of sunlight so your phone charges at its optimal temperature. Finally, check your phone’s charging socket for lint, which can dramatically slow charging down. Just turn your phone off and carefully remove any lint with a toothpick.

3. Avoid streaming movies on your gaming consoles.

The latest ones, like PS4 and Xbox One, use 35-40% more electricity than other media streaming devices.


4. Turning your TV brightness down is a bright move.

TV manufacturers often ship TVs with their settings on max because they look better in bright stores. But once installed in your home, your TV’s settings should be adjusted to levels that better suit your home. By reducing brightness and contrast on your TV, you could reduce your TV’s energy use by up to 40%. TV settings can usually be adjusted via the menu button on your remote, or refer to your TV manufacturer’s manual.


5. It’s not called a smart thermostat for nothing.

When you get home in the evening, reduce your energy bill by raising the temperature slowly - don’t crank it. A smart thermostat, like the one compatible with smartHOME, can do this for you, along with a whole host of other automatic heat-saving functions. It can conserve AC when an exterior door or window is open and adjust your temperature based on the weather outside. It can also make you eligible for reduced rates from utility companies.


6. Check for water leaks with Kool-Aid.

Here’s a great trick to see if you’re wasting water. Empty a pack of grape Kool-Aid in the tank of your toilet and don’t flush it for an hour. If your toilet bowl turns purple, you know you have a slow leak into the toilet that you can’t even hear. This is wasting water and costing you money. Fixing it should be quick and cheap.

7. Do you really need a second fridge?

If you have a second fridge, ask yourself if you really need it. Even efficient fridges use a lot of power, so your extra fridge could be costing you anywhere between $50 to $180 a year.


8. Dust your baseboard heaters.

Most people don’t notice how dusty their baseboard heaters are. But apart from smelling bad when they heat up, did you know all that dust is also stopping heat from being distributed effectively? This means you’ll need to run your baseboard heaters longer or hotter to feel the benefit, using up more energy.

9. Add a dry towel to your wet dryer load.

Dryers consume a lot of power. So if you absolutely have to use one, try adding a large, dry towel to your wet load before you start the cycle which can reduce drying time by up to 10%.

10. The pressure cooker is back!

It’s little wonder multi-use pressure cookers are popular again. They use up to 70% less energy than an electric oven. But today’s pressure cookers aren’t like the one your parents had. Check out the Canadian-designed Instant Pot with Bluetooth and its own smartphone app you can use to check in on dinner without leaving the sofa.

And finally, don’t forget good old recycling. Here in Saskatchewan, we’re lucky to have plenty of recycling options, thanks to the Saskatchewan Waste Reduction Council and Recycle Saskatchewan. But there’s also another great way to recycle your old smartphones that helps other people immediately. Through Phones for a Fresh Start, we partner with PATHS to help victims of domestic abuse get back on their feet.


Doing our part

As one of Canada’s “Greenest Employers”, we have a range of initiatives for our staff. These include a comprehensive in-house recycling program, an employee-formed EnviroCare committee, and the Pioneers volunteer club that do all kinds of fantastic conservation and recycling work across the province.


Although Earth Day has come and gone, saving energy is relevant year-round. So, we encourage you to think about what you can do to reduce your energy usage. Even just small things, like the tips we’ve highlighted above, can all add up to make a huge difference.

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