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How Can You Conserve Energy

Reducing energy use in the workplace or classroom

In most commercial, industrial and institutional facilities, there are many ways to save 15-25% of the total utility costs. Some of these require investment and others can be done for free.


  • Turn off equipment and tools during off shifts or when they are not needed.
  • Activate energy saving features on computers, copiers and printers to save energy during the workday. If you can, shut down the computers over night.
  • When replacing computer components, purchase the new energy-efficient types that use less energy. For example, LCD monitors consume less than half the power of traditional CRT monitors, making them an energy smart choice.
  • Fax and copy only when really necessary. Sometimes we take advantage of these common luxuries, but there was a day when we didn’t have them. If you must make copies, make all you need in one batch, then turn the machine off if you know it won’t be needed again soon.

Doors and windows

  • Open freight doors only when needed. When trucks are actively being loaded or unloaded, leave the doors open. As soon as the job is done, close the doors to conserve energy. It’s unlikely you’ll offend the truck driver by doing so.
  • Use rotating doors. If there’s a choice in your building, use rotating doors instead of standard hinged or sliding doors. They allow less heat to escape.
  • Close doors and windows. When the weather is either hot or cold, air from outside can have a big impact on energy bills. Keep doors and windows closed when heating or cooling is needed.
  • Use window blinds. Direct sunlight can overheat spaces, making the building’s air conditioner work harder. Close or tilt blinds to block direct sunlight. Close blinds at night in winter to reduce heat loss.


  • Turn off lights when you leave a room. Flip off the light switch at night, or during lunch and when out of your work area.
  • Turn lights off after hours. After business hours, turn on only the lights in occupied work areas. If you get to work early or work after regular hours, use only the lights you need.
  • Reduce exterior lighting. Maintain photo cells or set time clocks so exterior lights are off during the day. Tenants should contact building management if this isn’t happening.

Moving around

  • Instead of the elevator, take the stairs. You’ll save energy and get a little exercise to boot!

Did you know?
Research shows that most of the time personal computers are on they are not actively in use, and an estimated 20% are left running at night and on weekends. A typical PC is actively used 4 hours and idles for another 5.5 hours each workday. The energy saving potential from reducing PC power consumption is enormous, by turning off those that don't need to be on and by power managing PCs, Canadians can make a real difference. Using the screen saver does not save energy.

Reducing energy use at home

There are many opportunities for saving energy in your home.


  • Insulation: Insulating the walls and loft spaces in your attic can reduce heat loss in the home by more than 50%. Walls are the worst culprits, as they are responsible for almost 35% of heat wastage in most homes.

Living room

  • Lights: Lighting accounts for 10-15% of electricity bills. Turn them off if you are not using them. Buy energy efficient fluorescent bulbs: they use only one quarter the energy of an ordinary bulb and last about ten times longer
  • Thermostat: Get a programmable thermostat and be careful not to overheat or overcool rooms. In the winter set your thermostat to 20°C in the daytime and 15°C at night. In the summer keep it set to 25°C. Lowering your thermostat just two degrees during winter saves 6% of heating-related CO2 emissions.
  • Windows: Shut drapes on hot sunny days to keep the hot sun out. On cold winter nights, they keep the warm air in, so keep them closed then too. Weatherize your home or apartment, using caulk and weather stripping to plug air leaks around doors and windows.


  • Bathtub: Consider taking a shower instead of a bath. A typical shower requires approximately 40% less hot water than a bath.
  • Toilet: Replace old toilets and get a new low-flush unit: it will pay for itself in no time.
  • Shower: Use less hot water by installing a low-flow showerhead. They cost just $10 to $20 each, deliver an invigorating shower and reduce the amount of hot water you use for each shower.


  • Stove and oven: Old appliances cost more to operate than new ones, so always try to buy new machines rather than second hand ones. It will save you more money in the long run. Remember, cheap doesn’t always mean efficient.
  • Microwave oven: A microwave oven can do much more than just heat up leftovers. A microwave oven uses less energy than a conventional oven.
  • Faucets: Fix leaks and replace heads with more efficient ones. Check the gaskets to ensure there is no dripping.
  • Kettle: Only fill the kettle with the amount of water you need for each use.
  • Refrigerator: Refrigerators account for about 20% of household electricity use. Set your refrigerator temperature close to 3°C and your freezer around -16°C. If it’s more than 10 years old, it’s inefficient so a replacement should be considered.


  • Second refrigerator: Lose the beer fridge. It’s costing you four times as much electricity as a new one.
    Washing machine: Set your clothes washer to the warm or cold water setting, rather than hot.
  • Switching from hot to warm for two loads per week can save nearly 225 kg of CO2 per year if you have an electric water heater. A front-loading machine uses 1/3 of the water that a top load washer uses and will spin your clothes drier, saving on drying costs.
  • Hot water heater: Turn down your water heater thermostat. Thermostats are often set to 60°C (140°F) when 50°C (120°F) is usually fine. You can also wrap your heater in an insulating jacket for $20 or $30.
  • Furnace: Clean or replace furnace filters as recommended. Energy is lost when furnaces have to work harder to draw air through dirty filters. Cleaning a dirty air conditioner filter can save 5% of the energy used.


  • Transportation: Do you need to use the car for every journey you make? Whenever possible, walk, bike, carpool or use mass transit. When you next buy a car, choose one that gets good mileage.
  • Trees and house colour: Reductions in energy use resulting from trees and building colour reduces CO2 emissions. Plant shade trees and paint your house a light colour if you live in a warm climate or a dark colour if you live in a cold climate.
  • Outdoor lights: Put outdoor lights on timers and/or sensors. Use compact fluorescent bulbs to reduce energy consumption.

Did you know?

  • By replacing your 20-year-old refrigerator with a new, energy efficient model, you can save 75% of its energy consumption.
  • By replacing your old toilet (which used 14 litres per flush) with new low-flow toilets (which consume only 3 to 6 litres per flush), you can save up to 30% of your home’s total annual water bill.

Making an energy-wise choice – life-cycle costing

When it’s time to buy a new appliance, remodel part of your house or office, or simply replace a light bulb, how do you make an energy-smart choice?

Purchase price is not the only cost you will have to pay. Remember that running a new appliance for as long as you own it costs money too.

Which is less expensive, a washing machine that sells for $500 or one that sells $1,000? The answer is not as obvious as it seems. The $500 washer is certainly less expensive at the cash register, but what about the cost of this appliance over its lifetime? An energy-smart shopper takes into account not only the purchase price, but also the cost of the electricity and the water to operate the machine. This is called life-cycle costing.

Let’s look at a life-cycle costing analysis of lighting. Most people still use regular incandescent bulbs as opposed to compact fluorescent bulbs. Incandescents are less expensive to purchase, but what about the energy usage?

Up to 95% of the electricity that enters an incandescent bulb is converted to heat. Only 5% actually becomes useable light. That’s why incandescent bulbs get so hot. Compact fluorescent bulbs are able to convert much more electricity into light, which makes them much more energy efficient.

Have a look at this example of life-cycle costing of both incandescent and compact fluorescent lights.



Compact fluorescent

Cost of buying bulbs



Lifetime of one bulb

1,000 hours

10,000 hours

Bulb price



Number of bulbs to light for 10,000 hours



Money spent on bulbs

10 x 60¢

1 X $3.40

Total cost of buying bulbs






Energy cost



Equivalent wattage

60 watts (W)

15 watts (W)

Watt-hours needed for lighting 10,000 hours

60 W x 10,000 hours
=600,000 watt-hrs (600kWh)

15 W x 10,000 hours
=150,000 watt-hrs (150kWh)

Cost at 10¢ per kWh

600kWh x 11¢

150kWh x 11¢

Total energy cost



Life-cycle cost

$6 + $66 = $72

$3.40 + $16.50 = $19.90



Energy-smart shopping

There are a wide variety of government and industry-sponsored initiatives designed to assist consumers in making energy smart purchases. Two of the most prominent programs are the EnerGuide and Energy Star programs.

The EnerGuide label is a tool to help you make an energy-wise choice when buying new major household appliances. It shows how much energy appliances consume in a year of normal service and makes it easy to compare the energy efficiency of each model to others of the same size and class.

EnerGuide labels have a horizontal scale showing the least efficient model, the most efficient one, and where that particular appliance falls on the scale. They also have a table that allows you to estimate your annual energy cost based on local electric or gas rates. As with mileage ratings on automobiles, your actual cost may vary depending on usage.

Energy Star
Similar to the EnerGuide program, the ENERGY STAR label is a tool to help you make energy-wise decisions when buying major household appliance, home heating or cooling equipment, consumer electronics, office equipment or certain lighting and signage products.

The ENERGY STAR mark is a simple way for consumers to identify products that are among the top energy performers on the market, as ENERGY STAR compliant products exceed minimum federal government standards. Selecting a product with an ENERGY STAR label over a conventional model could save you hundreds of dollars in energy costs.