Direct Energy

Direct Energy

July 07, 2010 10:07 ET

Easy Steps to Ensure the Heat Wave Doesn't Melt Your Bank Account

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - July 7, 2010) - Ontarians are currently experiencing the first extreme heat of 2010, with record setting temperatures already surpassed in many parts of the province, a mini-blackout experienced in Toronto and no relief in sight until week's end. In the interest of helping reduce stress on Ontario's electrical grid and bringing down home cooling costs, Direct Energy encourages home owners to undertake as many energy efficiency measures as they can around the house.

Typically home owners who use central air conditioning or window units will see an uptick in their electrical use during a heat wave because air conditioners are powered by electricity. Many leave the air conditioning blasting while they're away during the day in order to avoid returning to a sauna in the evening. Dave Walton, Director of Home Ideas, Direct Energy, says homeowners do not necessarily need to shut off their air conditioner completely while they're away but they should increase its temperature setting and take other steps to reduce their electricity usage.

"The heat wave is an opportunity for families to discuss energy consumption and efficiency and set some goals for lowering home energy consumption over the summer months, especially now, when the electrical grid is stressed. Progress can be tracked on your energy bill month over month," says Walton.

Walton offers the following tips for keeping cooling costs down as temperatures soar:

Raise the thermostat. Turn up the programmable thermostat during the day when nobody is home, and at night when outdoor temperatures are cooler. By raising the thermostat's temperature by five degrees Celsius, homeowners could save 10 per cent on their energy bill.

Cool efficiently. Keep blinds, carpets and furniture free of the vents, so your cooling system can operate efficiently and provide even air distribution. Close vents in less used rooms so you are not spending money cooling those spaces.

Block the sun. Close window blinds on the eastern facing side of the house in the morning and western in the afternoon thereby not allowing the sun to heat the space.

Use fans. Ceiling fans are more energy efficient than turning on the air conditioner to maximize air circulation and move the cooled or fresh air throughout the home. Ceiling fan blades should move the air downwards in the summer and upwards in the winter.

Use energy efficient appliances. Check the SEER (Seasonal energy efficiency ratio) rating on your air conditioning unit. A 13 SEER rating can deliver as much as 28 per cent more efficiency than that of an older, 10 SEER air conditioner.

Check windows and weather stripping. Up to 30 per cent of the cooling in your home can be lost through poorly fitted windows and doors. Seal up leaks with caulking and weather stripping. Caulking just one window over 10 years old can save 5-10 per cent in cooling costs and is more energy efficient.

Stem the drain from vampire electronics. Plasma TV monitors, video game consoles, computers, appliances with an LED lights – they all continue to suck power when not in use or in active standby mode. Turn off and unplug your vampire electronics when not in use. A power bar is handy for helping turn off a number of appliances at once, rather than plugging and un-plugging appliances in hard-to-reach places around the house.

Book a home energy assessment. A home energy assessment can help identify areas where your home can be more energy efficient. You may even qualify for rebates if you implement the suggested changes.

About Direct Energy

Direct Energy is North America's largest provider of heating & cooling, plumbing and electrical services and a leading energy and energy-related services provider with over 5 million residential and commercial customer relationships. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE:CNA), one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in 46 states plus DC and 10 provinces in Canada. To learn more about Direct Energy, please visit www.directenergy.com.

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