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Five tips on saving money on hydro and electricity in the winter

Do you live in a city where it gets cold in the winter? Perhaps on the east coast or even somewhere around the great lakes (North or South of the border the chill unites us all Eh)? 


If you do, you know two wonderful guarantees about cold winters: they make going outside really uncomfortable, and the cost of heating shoots your energy bill through the roof (not to be confused with equally optimistic guarantees of life – death and taxes). We run Fair Service Heating and A/C one of Winnipeg’s largest furnace installation and repair companies so we know the reality of it all too well. In fact we kind of consider ourselves experts in the field. If you want to know what makes Winnipeg (in the lovely province of Manitoba, Canada) special here is a fun fact: on two separate Christmases the measured temperature was comparatively colder than the North Pole, and the surface of Mars.


So when we say we know cold we mean it and in our constant fight to keep the homes of our clients warm we found a few ways to save money doing it. Here is 7 of them:

  1. Obviously as a furnace repair company we have a vested interest in stating that replacing your furnace is actually a financial investment instead of a liability. But here is the catch (actually the opposite of a catch), it really works. The thing is like any other technology in the last decade the furnaces became much more efficient in doing their job of converting energy (which you pay for) into heat. High efficiency modern furnaces have annual fuel utilization efficiency of over 92%. In plain speech this means they are up to 40% more efficient that their old counterparts. The other non-catch is that the government has a vested interest in families upgrading their furnaces for environmental reasons so often they offer excellent rebates. The savings however go directly to you every month. Nice.
  2. A nice little hack that doesn’t require a lot of time or investment is reversing your ceiling fan. Normally the fan’s job is to cool the room by sucking the air up, but by pressing a switch (which you can find on almost every fan if you check) we can reverse it to run in a clockwise direction. This change reverses air flow so instead of getting sucked up, the fan pushes the hot air that comes out of the air ducts down, and circulates it around the house.
  3. Some good life advice is that when there is a problem you go straight to the source to fix it. In our case there are a few sources of where warm heated air leaks out, the biggest one being the windows. Sure the best advice is to install double or triple pane windows that act like armor to minimize heat loss, but alas like any high tech solution they are costly. Instead we can get decent improvement with rubber and plastic. By rubber I am referring to caulking, a process of sealing gaps between the glass (which tends to keep shape over time) and window frames (whether plastic or wood it does not tend to keep shape over time warping and creating gaps). You can purchase this specialized paste in any home improvement store, it looks like tooth paste and is pretty straight forward to use. The second step is to use plastic wrap (Google the right kind to use, the basic food wrapping type won’t work) to cover the entire window to both create a second barrier for air and temperature changes.
  4. Another exciting improvement (yes, exciting to some) in home heating technology is the improvement of home thermostats. These upgrades are part of a larger movement of cell phones and smart home accessories that allow users to have more control over their home. In short, the most customized your heating plan, the less expensive it is going to be. I will give an example, currently lots of smart thermostats have apps that tap into your cellphone GPS and adjust your heating depending on when you either leave or return home. Can you do it manually? Of course, do you forget? Of course. You don’t have to go crazy professor trying to set up separate ecosystems around the house but look into something like NEST or ECOBEE and play with basic settings.
  5. For the last tip instead of diving deeper into insulation or technology I would like to address habits. In our case there is a fantastic heuristic we can use in the winter: small heating is cheaper than big heating. While it sounds almost childish it is actually incredible informative. Whenever you reasonably can, choose to localize heating to the smallest unit of space. Example: when you sleep a small local heater is better than heating the entire floor. Example: instead of heating the kitchen wear a sweater. Yes it is that simple but awareness and conscious choices we make daily has a sizable impact on our heating cost at the end of the month.

So here from Ol’ Uncle Winnipeg we have five tips on saving money on your heating bills. Replace your furnace, reverse your ceiling fan, seal your windows, use a smart home thermostat, and be mindful about localizing the space you heat.


If you would like to read our brand new top of the line guide on 28 ways to winterize your home head over to our website here. And of course if you live in Manitoba and need to install or replace a furnace give us, Fair Service Heating & Air Conditioning a call.