Saving energy in your home

Story by Patricia Merrick

Winter 2023/24

When it comes to saving energy, every contribution goes a long way. Not only is saving energy good for the environment, but it can also help shave down those sky-high power bills.

Airdrie residents are encouraged to reduce their energy use by monitoring heating and electricity in their homes, especially during the winter months.

Joad Clement, municipal energy advisor for the City of Airdrie, says there are many ways people can reduce energy use in their homes, but a good first step is to look at how much energy they’re using when they’re not home.

He encourages residents to program temperature setbacks into their thermostat, or install a programmable or smart thermostat if they don’t have one already, so the heat turns down at night when they’re sleeping and when they’re at work or on holidays. He suggests minimizing air infiltration, as well.

“Around the windows and doors are typically the biggest places where we can find drafts, so, if we can weatherstrip those places, that’s huge savings and extra comfort over the winter, and a more comfortable home also in the summer when the heat stays out of the house,” Clement says.

Among other tips from Clement, he encourages residents to use high-efficiency lighting, such as LED lighting, and to be aware of how often lights are left on when they don’t need to be. Using occupancy sensors can be a good solution if family members often forget to turn lights off when they leave a room.

Since April 2022, the City has been implementing an energy-saving program and monitors greenhouse gas emissions produced by City-owned facilities and through corporate operations, says Clement. Several City departments are involved and the municipal Energy Management team is looking at the cost-effectiveness of several energy-conservation measures, as well as securing external funding to support those measures. The City Energy Management Program assists departments in being proactive about reducing their current and future utility costs.

“We launched internally for City staff a Save Energy at Home contest to help employees understand their energy use and emissions and reduce their utility bills,” says Clement. “When people start thinking about their consumption at home, it also impacts how they perceive energy use at work. They will probably be more aware of energy waste and will want to brainstorm solutions to keep our utility costs in check.”

Energy management at the City will also benefit residents down the road by supporting the development of a Clean Energy Improvement Program.

“This funding program allows homeowners to invest in energy-efficiency projects to reduce their home bills and emissions,” says Clement. “Homeowners could get a low-interest loan from the City that is secured though external community energy financing or other funding sources. The program facilitates home comfort and lower utility bills long-term investments that are often disregarded when no other support is in place.” If Council approves the Clean Energy Improvement Program details, it will likely be rolled out in the fall of 2024.

The program is geared towards projects in the $10,000 to $50,000 range and could include replacing windows, high-efficiency furnaces, adding attic insulation, or installing solar panels or heat pumps.

“People tend to postpone those projects because they don’t have the money available, but now, with this program, it becomes available,” says Clement.

The loan would be attached to the property, not the homeowner’s mortgage. In the event the home is sold in the future, the benefit would stay attached to the home and the new homeowner would continue reaping the energy savings, Clement says.

Even though the Clean Energy Improvement initiative is not available in Airdrie yet, residents can get familiar with the program and learn more about home energy upgrades by visiting the Alberta Munis CEIP web page at ceip.abmunis.ca.