These common habits waste more energy than you realize

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Published: October 24, 2019

Conserving energy at the cottage isn’t just good for your bottom line, it’s also good for the environment. But while you may be cognizant enough to turn off the lights and water every time you leave a room or brush your teeth, there are plenty of other common habits that, when fixed, can lead to big-time savings.

Not monitoring your home’s or cottage’s energy usage.

Keep tabs on how much energy you’re using with an energy-monitoring device like Wiser Energy. The device is installed straight into your electrical panel, where it can send a wealth of useful information to your smartphone. Set your budget and get notifications when your consumption is coming close to its limit, and track each individual appliance to see what’s on the verge of fritzing out or consuming a little too much energy.

Not being aware of phantom power use

Just because you’re not using an appliance doesn’t mean it isn’t wasting energy. Many plugged-in appliances and electronics that aren’t in use go on standby mode, where they consume “phantom power.” According to Natural Resources Canada, that hidden consumption can account for up to 10 percent of your total energy bill each month.

To avoid excess charges, invest in power bars with timers that can shut off while you’re asleep or at work, set entertainment systems to automatically turn off when not in use, and put outdoor lights on timers or motion sensors.

Waiting too long to upgrade inefficient appliances

There’s always a checklist of things that need attention at the cottage, but it’s probably not a great idea to wait too long when it comes to replacing older appliances that are no longer running up to speed. Invest in an energy-efficient washer or dryer that uses roughly 25 percent less energy and half the water of regular machines, or upgrade your fridge for savings of up to $200 per year.

Clinging to your analog thermostat

Keeping your rustic, cottage vibe is perfectly fine, but using an ancient and unprogrammable thermostat isn’t doing your bottom line or the planet any favours. Upgrading to a new thermostat allows you to use less energy when you’re away or sleeping, and when used properly, can save at least eight percent of your energy use. The other benefit to investing in a smart thermostat is that you can control it from your phone and keep tabs on your cottage when you’re away.

Not using curtains for cooling and heating

Insulated curtains are your best friend when it comes to low-cost heating and cooling, But we often forget to take advantage of them at the cottage. Sure, you never want to lose that gorgeous view, but once the sun sets—or if you’re already outdoors—you might as well shut them to conserve that extra bit of energy.

Not upgrading lightbulbs

It may seem like extra effort to replace all of your cottage lightbulbs after already doing so at home, but ditching the incandescent, energy-sucking lightbulbs in favour of LEDs will save you more money in the long run. That’s because those older models can cost up to ten times the price of the original bulb itself. While newer models may be more expensive at the outset, they use up to 90 percent less energy in the long run.

Powering an empty chest freezer (or beer fridge)

The science is still out on whether a full fridge uses less energy than a half-empty one, but if you’ve got a beer fridge or chest freezer plugged in with absolutely nothing in it, that’s just an energy suck. Instead, be sure to unplug such appliances when not in use, and then plug them back in each time you plan on stocking up.

Running the dishwasher before it’s full

A dishwasher can be one of your best investments, because it means less time spent doing dishes and more time actually relaxing at the cottage. And if you have a high-efficiency model, it can actually use less water than constantly doing dishes in the sink. But make sure yours is full before actually running it. Otherwise you’ll be using a lot more water than is necessary.