by Julie Jaggernath
If you’re like most Canadians, your household bills consume a significant amount of each pay cheque. Add in the cost of your housing itself (e.g. rent or mortgage) and over half of our take-home pay is probably gone before you get it. When you’re trying to balance your budget, it makes sense to do whatever you can to save wherever possible when using major household appliances.
Maximize Energy Efficiency With Your Refrigerator
When you think about the appliances in your home that you use most often, your refrigerator likely tops the list. But did you know that there are ways to save even with your fridge and freezer that you might not have thought of? For instance:
- Keep your freezer at least half full or more so that it doesn’t keep trying to freeze air (which it can’t do). This applies to deep freezers too.
- Minimize opening your fridge door to limit how often the cold air falls out (and the warm air needs to be cooled). But don’t pack it full. A fridge runs more efficiently when the air can circulate.
Easy Ways to Save Electricity
When your budget is already tight, buying energy-efficient items like LED light bulbs or new appliances with better energy-efficiency ratings might be out of your price range. So look for common tricks to save on electricity with what you already have. Two common tricks are to:
- Use natural light whenever possible. Turn lights off when you’re not using them (your Grandma wasn’t kidding).
- Only run the dishwasher if it’s full. Use the energy-saver cycle and open the door to let your dishes air dry once they’ve been washed.
None of these tips will make you a millionaire, but taken together over time, you’ll definitely come out ahead.
Save on Running Your Clothes Dryer
Your clothes dryer is near the top of the list for household energy consumption. So anything you can do to use it less or for shorter periods adds up to savings.
- Toss a clean, dry towel in with your wet clothes to reduce drying time.
- Dry your laundry loads back-to-back to take advantage of an already hot dryer.
- Clean the lint trap after every load to help it run efficiently.
- Hang every second or third load of laundry up to dry. Spin the wet clothes twice to make them air dry faster.
- If you use disposable dryer sheets, make them last twice as long by only using half a sheet with each load. This also cuts down on how quickly the waxy coating builds up in your dry venting.
You should also never run your clothes dryer when you’re not around to keep an eye on it. Dryers are a common cause of house fires, especially when the venting isn’t cleared of lint periodically.
Save When Heating and Cooling Your Home
Heating and cooling systems for your home are also near the top of the list. Turning the thermostat down even 1 degree, or the temperature for your AC up a few degrees, adds up to a lot of savings. Test a lower or higher temperature before automatically deciding what’s optimal.
- Use a programmable thermostat.
- Wear slippers, long pants, and a sweater before turning up the heat (your mom isn’t kidding – she learned it from Grandma!).
- If you spend most of your time in one room, like when you’re working from home, heating or cooling only that space instead of your whole place will save.
- On hot days cover your windows to keep the heat out before it gets hot in your space, and before turning on the AC.
- Drink a hot beverage if you’re cold, and a cold beverage if you’re hot.
When you think about turning the temperature on your furnace up or lowering it on your air conditioner, be mindful of what else you could do to make your room or home more comfortable.
Stack Your Savings to Get a Bigger Bang for Your Buck
With some appliances, you can save by using them efficiently, and doing so saves money in another budget category as well. When you stack your opportunities for saving money, you can feel a more immediate impact on your budget. For example:
- When baking, fill the whole pan and freeze leftovers. It costs the same to heat the oven and bake 2 pieces of chicken as it does to bake 10. And bigger packages often have a better price point than the smaller ones which saves at the grocery store.
- When running the washing machine, use cold water as often as possible. This saves not only on your electric bill, but your clothes last longer too.
- Lower the temperature on your hot water tank in 5-degree increments to find the best balance for your household. This extends the life of another costly appliance and saves on your gas or electric bill too.
Stacking your savings means being mindful of what you do, how you manage money, and what you consume. It can be hard to stay on top of things if you’re going through a stressful time. If your stress is related to your finances, a non-profit credit counsellor could help.
Saving Money With Big Household Appliances
Whenever you need to replace a major household appliance, think about how you use it and which features are most important to you before you start shopping. Check online reviews, read through options and specifications on a manufacturer’s website to learn about the newest features, and watch for energy efficiency ratings. Then let your budget be your guide and buy what you can afford.