As we near the end of October, the leaves are changing colours, the nights are getting longer, and we know it won’t be long before we see Ottawa’s first sub-zero temperatures. The SNOW is already here.
In Ottawa, we are fortunate to have wonderful attractions to help us enjoy winter. These include outdoor skating, cross-country ski trails, downhill skiing within driving distance and the wonderful annual Winterlude festival, to be held Feb. 3 to 20, 2017. As a realtor, these are among the many assets I mention when helping clients who are re-locating to Ottawa from other parts of Canada or abroad.
How many cities can boast a winter experience and sight similar to the one we can enjoy in Ottawa when the spectacular Rideau Canal Skateway is open for the season? You can strap on some skates, glide along the Skateway with thousands of other residents, and then stop to enjoy a steaming hot chocolate or a cinnamon-covered pastry from food vendors along the way.
But homeowners also know the colder temperatures and longer hours of darkness also tend to be a time of higher energy bills.
But there are lots of relatively simple and inexpensive things we can do to manage those bills and help keep them as low as possible in the coming cold months.
One great source for information is the helpful website of Hydro Ottawa. It offers tips for business and homeowners for managing energy bills throughout the year, including the cold winter months and the hot summer months, when many of us use air conditioning.
One page of the site offers 65 Ways to Manage Energy Use. The page includes some excellent tips for reducing energy use in all areas of your home, including kitchens, bathrooms, laundry rooms and your outdoor spaces.
Among the suggestions:
- Insulating or topping up your attic insulation. The site says doing this could reduce your annual energy costs by 5 to 30 per cent!
- Installing a programmable thermostat so you can set temperatures in advance for different times of day, such as when you are sleeping or not at home.
Caulk, seal and weatherstrip your windows to keep warm air inside in winter.
Consider wrapping your electric hot water tank with an insulating blanket if your tank is in a cool or unheated location of your home.
Replacing older incandescent bulbs with Energy Star-certified LED bulbs. The site says these bulbs use up to 90 per cent less electricity and can last more than 20 years.
In the laundry room, consider purchasing a simple indoor rack for air-drying laundry in winter months rather than using an electric dryer, which uses a lot of energy. In the warmer months, use an outdoor clothes line.
When washing laundry, consider using cold water wash and detergent rather than the hot water cycle.
In the kitchen, use your dishwasher at off-peak hours, and let the dishes air dry rather than using the heat-dry option.
When replacing appliances, choose Energy Star-certified models.
Purchase a power bar with a timer for charging mobile devices such as your cell phone, at night. You can set the timer to turn off the charger during the day. As the site reminds you, electronics that are turned off but are still plugged in, such as a computer, continue to draw power. Turn those appliances off if you are away at the office all day.
In addition to these and other tips for saving energy, the site also has more than a dozen coupons that you can print out and redeem at participating retailers. You will find coupons for LED bulbs; specialty CFL bulbs; lighting controls such as dimmer switches; light fixtures; ceiling fans; power bars; weatherstripping; outdoor timers; programmable thermostats for baseboards; and insulating blankets for hot water heaters. The coupons can help you save on the cost of these items, and the items can then help to manage your energy use.
If you are interested in buying or selling property in the Ottawa area, I’d love to meet and chat with you about the Ottawa market, and offer information and tips based on my more than 30 years of experience as a realtor in our city. You can reach me through my website, at www.nancybenson.com, or give me a call at 613-747-4747.