Conserving water and energy is good for the environment and our pocket books. In the short term, lower consumption means lower utility bills for you. In the long term, lower energy and water use translates to lower infrastructure building and operating costs, keeping the cost of providing energy and water to your home or business lower.
This comprehensive guide offers nearly one hundred energy and water conservation tips to help you save energy, water, and money at home and at work.
Want to do more to help the environment and save money? We offer additional information, tours and demonstrations, and even financial incentive programs to help you implement conservation measures at home, in your garden and at work.
- Water Conservation Garden – information on water-smart gardening
- Water Efficiency Retrofit Incentives – incentives for commercial, institutional, and multi-residential customers to invest in water efficiency
- Use the MyUtilities customer portal to monitor your household’s consumption patterns of water, gas, and electricity. Then, shift your electricity use to when demand is low and Time-of-use pricing is at off-peak.
Dishwashers, Washers, and Dryers
Use your appliances between 7 PM and 7 AM when demand for electricity is low and Time-of-use pricing is off-peak (less expensive).
Run your appliance only when it is full.
Be sure to keep the clothes dryer’s lint filter clean to improve efficiency and for safety.
Use the dishwasher’s air-dry setting or leave the door open to naturally dry dishes.
When buying a new dishwasher look for:
- The ENERGY STAR label
- A short-cycle or “econo wash” features
On your washer, using cold water saves a tremendous amount of electricity. Look for cold water detergent.
85–90% of the washer’s electricity is used to heat the water.
When buying a new clothes washer, look for an ENERGY STAR qualified front-load model to reduce water use by 45% and energy use by 65%.
Use an outdoor clothesline and/or indoor drying racks to save electricity.
Reduce the amount of laundry you wash – clothes don't have to be washed every time you wear them, as long as they pass inspection! This can help you save money in the long run and keep your clothes looking newer longer.
Preheat ovens only for a minimum amount of time. Preheating is only really necessary for baking.
Instead of using your oven to reheat food, use a toaster or microwave oven to save energy.
Use pots and pans that match the size of the stovetop’s heating element.
Keep your freezer at -18°C. Setting your freezer colder than that will use more electricity.
Refrigerators are one of the biggest electricity users in the home, so it pays to consider an ENERGY STAR qualified model.
Keep the back and underneath of refrigerators and freezers dust-free with regular vacuuming.
Maintain a space of 5 cm around your fridge and freezer so heat can circulate away from the compressor and condensing coil.
Ensure that refrigerator and freezer door seals are tight and secure.
When buying a new freezer, look for a smaller chest freezer or an ENERGY STAR qualified model. Front loading models use more energy.
Remember, a full freezer operates more efficiently than an empty one.
Heating and Cooling
In the summer, set your central air conditioner to 25°C when you are home, and 28°C when away. Or if you can, turn it off.
Replace your older air conditioner with a new, efficient model
Ceilings fans help keep the temperature in your home regulated in the summer and winter. They also use less electricity.
Create a cross breeze: open a few windows to create cross ventilation. For the best results, open a lower window on one side of your home and an upper window on the opposite side.
When shopping for a new central or window air conditioner, consider the newer ENERGY STAR qualified models.
These can be up to 70% more efficient than older models.
Clean or replace your window air conditioning filter monthly.
Dirty filters restrict air flow and reduce efficiency.
Have a licensed contractor service your central air system annually.
Newer ENERGY STAR qualified dehumidifiers use 10% to 20% less energy than conventional models and offer the same features – effective moisture removal, quiet operation and durability.
Follow the manufacturers’ guidelines for cleaning or replacing your dehumidifier filter to keep it operating efficiently.
For wood-burning fireplaces, close the damper when not in use.
Even a closed damper can leak a large amount of heated air to the outdoors.
Avoid having your furnace thermostat in a room with a fireplace.
Furnaces and Heating
Clean or replace the furnace filter frequently to keep your furnace operating efficiently.
Save gas and electricity by installing the most efficient furnace you can afford. To reduce electricity use, make sure that your new furnace has an ECM motor and variable speed fan drive.
In the winter set the thermostat to 20°C when you are home and 18°C overnight or when away.
Insulate heating ducts that travel through unheated areas of your home to prevent heat loss.
When buying a new furnace, look for the most energy-efficient model you can find.
Keep warm-air registers, baseboard heaters, and radiators clean and unblocked.
Set the furnace fan switch on “automatic” instead of “on” or “continuous”.
Close off air registers in any unused areas or rooms.
Have a licensed HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) professional service your furnace yearly to ensure it is operating at maximum efficiency.
Insulation and Weather-Stripping
Add exterior and interior insulation to your basement.
Insulate your home thoroughly to keep it cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Install a minimum of 25 cm (10") of insulation in your attic.
Seal areas around plumbing stacks, ceiling fans and light fixtures where they join the floor or ceiling to prevent drafts.
Foam gaskets will insulate electrical outlets and lights switches on your home’s exterior facing walls.
Ensure attic insulation doesn’t block air movement.
Air leaks account for the largest amount of heat loss from your home! Seal leaks around light fixtures, plumbing stacks, windows, exterior doors, attic hatches, pipe and wire entrances, wood-burning fireplaces, electrical outlets, and ceiling fans.
Open soffit, roof, and gable vents to let in air and control moisture, thereby preventing damage to insulation and wood (daylight should be seen through vents).
A properly set programmable thermostat can reduce heating and cooling costs by up to 10%.
In the summer set the AC to 25°C when you are home, and 28°C when away.
In the winter set the thermostat to 20°C when you are home and, 18°C overnight or when away.
Install the thermostat on an interior wall where there are no vents or drafts.
Remember, avoid having your furnace thermostat in a room with a fireplace.
For an electrically-heated hot water tank, install pipe insulation around as much of the incoming cold water pipe and the outgoing copper hot water pipe as you can conveniently access.
Gas-heated hot water tanks should only be insulated by a professional
Never insulate plastic hot water tank pipes as they can overheat.
Computers and Office Equipment
Plug the following electronics into a power bar with a timer or auto-shut off and make sure they are off during periods of inactivity:
- televisions and home theatre systems
- computer, computer monitor, printer, scanner
- rechargeable devices (MP3 players,
cell phones, battery chargers, etc.)
- game consoles
- and more…
Electronic devices left plugged in, even when turned off, still draw power. That’s called phantom power or standby power, and it’s costing you money. By reducing this unnecessary power use, you could help save up to 15% of your electricity use.
Make sure any computer you purchase has an automatic power-down function that will automatically switch the monitor into sleep mode or, preferably, deep sleep mode after a set period of inactivity. (A mandatory feature for ENERGY STAR models.)
Shut your computer down when not in use to save electricity and reduce wear on your system.
When replacing your computer, look for an ENERGY STAR qualified model.
Laptops use less energy than desktop models.
Your computer’s screen-saver doesn’t save energy!
ENERGY STAR qualified LEDs and Colour
LEDs are available in a wide variety of shades of white light, ranging from yellowish to white to bluish white light, which allows you to customize the mood of your space.
Many LEDs come in “warm” colours to match the yellowish light of incandescent bulbs, but you can also choose “cooler” colours with whiter or bluer light. Light colour is measured on a temperature scale referred to as Kelvin (K). Lower Kelvin numbers mean the light appears more yellow; higher Kelvin numbers mean the light is whiter or bluer.
For a whiter light, look for bulbs marked 3500–4100 K.
Bulbs that measure at greater than 3500 K will enhance cooler colours (blue, green, violet) in your home.
For bluer white light, look for bulbs marked 5000–6500 K.
The outdoor porch lamp is one of the most-used light fixtures in any home, making it the perfect place to install highly efficient ENERGY STAR qualified lighting products.
Many LEDs will fit easily into existing porch lights. Be sure to use bulbs approved for use outdoors.
ENERGY STAR qualified CFLs are bright and warm, use about 75% less electricity than incandescents, and last up to 10 times longer!
Whether welcoming visitors, searching for your keys or ensuring safety, motion sensors are an electricity-saving option for lighting your way, because they only operate when they detect movement.
Consider photocell timers, which react to sunlight.
General Lighting Tips
Replace your high-use incandescent light bulbs with ENERGY STAR qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs). They use up to 75% less electricity and last up to 10 times longer.
ENERGY STAR quality light fixtures use only 25% of the electricity of standard fixtures and distribute light more efficiently and evenly.
Whenever you leave a room, get into the habit of turning off the lights.
Motion sensors are ideal for rooms where you may forget to turn off the lights.
Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain a small amount of mercury. Please dispose of your used bulbs in an environmentally friendly way. Check the City of Kingston’s Waste Lookup tool for the proper disposal procedure.
Install dimmer switches and use dimmable LEDs.
Not all LEDs are dimmable! Check the packaging for compatibility.
For those lights that are on all night, use the lowest wattage bulbs possible.
Make a point of keeping your light fixtures clean for maximum brightness.
Install programmable timers or motion sensors on interior and exterior lights.
Use area or task lighting instead of full, overhead lights. This is a great use for LED lights.
Light Emitting Diode (LED) bulbs provide focused lighting, making them a great choice for reading lights, desk lamps, night lights, spotlights, security lights, and other applications. They are extremely energy efficient, long-lasting, and mercury-free.
Pools, Spas, & Hot Tubs
Inspect your pool, hot tub, or spa heater every year for scale, mineral deposits, and corrosion.
Keep your pool, hot tub, or spas covered when not in use.
Run your pool and spa pump only as needed.
For pools, run the pump overnight when demand for electricity is low and Time-of-use pricing is off-peak (least expensive).
If your pool has a heater, use a timer to preset the hours the pool is to be heated.
Heat overnight when demand for electricity is low and Time-of-use pricing is off-peak (least expensive).
Uncovered pools can lose 30% of their heat – over 10,000 litres of water and expensive chemicals each month – just through evaporation!
Ways to Conserve Water
Baths and Showers
Take shorter showers to help conserve water.
Pick up a free conservation kit from Utilities Kingston including toilet leak detection tablets, two faucet aerators, gaskets to prevent heat loss through outlets, and a flow-rate measurement bag to test the efficiency of your shower heads and faucets at 85 Lappan’s Lane.
Fill the bath only half-full to save 80 litres per bath.
The bather at right is currently not following this suggestion!
Use low-flow showerheads to reduce the flow by 40 to 60% and save up to eight litres of water per minute.
Baths and showers account for 25% of indoor water use.
Install single-flush toilets that use 4.8 litres per flush or less and/or dual flush toilets with a maximum of 6 litres per flush.
Landlords: Check out our Multi-Residential Toilet Rebate Program.
Checking for leaks (and fixing them) can save 1,400 litres of water per month.
Toilets can account for 33% of indoor water use.
Using full loads and shorter cycles can save 95 litres of water per load.
High-efficiency, front loading washers can drastically reduce water use.
Washing machines can account for 24% of a household’s indoor water use.
Teach children to turn off the water when brushing their teeth.
Small children can learn about the source of Kingston tap water (Lake Ontario) when you encourage them to “save some water for the fishies”.
Fix any leaky taps!
A single faucet with a constant drip can waste up to 182 litres of water per week. If it’s a hot water tap that’s leaking, you’re sending your energy dollars down the drain.
Rinse dishes in a tub of clean water or a second sink, instead of under hot running water.
If you have an ENERGY STAR dishwasher, use it instead of hand washing to save even more water!
Always turn the faucet off when it is not needed and save 10–40 litres per day.
Install a flow restrictor or an aerator save up to 20 litres per day.
Faucets can account for 12% of indoor water use.
If your dishwasher is more than 10–15 years old, dishwashing by hand and rinsing in a dishpan can save 32–60 litres per load.
Doing a full load on a shorter cycle saves 28 litres per load.
Dishwashers can account for 6% of indoor water use.
Washing your car at a carwash that recycles water instead of in your driveway will conserve water and prevent harmful run-off pollution.
Use water toys and outdoor “kiddy” pools to cool off, instead of the sprinkler. A sprinkler uses 1,300 litres per hour, so the savings can be astounding.
Use a rain barrel to further reduce your use of treated water. Take advantage of the Utilities Kingston rain barrel program to get a large barrel at a great price.
Know and abide by local watering restrictions in place yearly from June 15 through September 15.
Use a broom, not a hose, to clean driveways and sidewalks. A hose uses 23 litres of water per minute.
Practice water-smart gardening!
Give Us a Call
Utilities Kingston staff are available to help you conserve energy and water.
Just call 613-546-0000 and say “conservation”.