6 Ways to Reduce Your Home’s Ecological Footprint While Saving Money

Green living solutions are becoming more affordable whether it is organic food or more efficient home lighting. You might not all be able to afford solar panels on your roofs, or might not have the weather for it either! But there are some small steps you can take to cut down on your electricity usage and waste, which will benefit the environment in the long run.

Solar Power

Sadly, this is probably the most expensive option available on this list, but if it can be achieved, it will do wonders for the environment. Some may argue against the rare earth needed to make solar energy work, but it does cut down on the amount of fossil fuels required to make the electricity and move it to your home. New Tesla batteries will soon make it easier for households to store solar power for rainy days.

Change Your Thermostat Temperature

Even changing your thermostat up by 3 degrees in summer and down by 3 degrees in winter can seriously cut back on electricity usage and save money. Aim for a winter temperature of around 68F and a summer temperature of 78F. See what is comfortable with you and what else you can manage by cooling/warming the house using shades, curtains and natural sunlight.

6 ways to reduce ecological footprint while saving money
Credit: kevmann16

Switch to Green Lighting

No, not the color of the light bulb, but environmentally friendly lighting. Governments worldwide have been pushing for greener home lighting. This first saw incandescent bulbs banned and may soon see halogen bulbs banned too. Over the same period of time, LED light bulbs have risen to be the market leader in energy efficient lighting solutions. They achieve this through a combination of extreme energy efficiency and longevity. Homes converting to LEDs will save hundreds of dollars a year in electricity bills.

Maintaining Your Air-conditioning

Air conditioning inefficiency wastes a lot of electricity every year. While here in Canada, it’s not exactly well known for hot weather, aircon both heats and cools a house depending on the temperature (as noted above). To maximize their efficiency and reduce bills, keep air vents open at all times, even in winter, clean them often, and replace filters regularly.

Recycle and Compost

Your home is not just about electricity. Environmental impact is measured by the items you use, clothes you buy, and mostly by the food you eat. A lot of these products can be recycled when you finish using them, either to be broken down into compost for growing plants or turned into new materials. The more that is recycled, the less new materials have to be created or excavated. Cutting down on toxic materials and turning to biodegradable or recyclable materials will reduce your footprint significantly.

Eco-Friendly Gardens

You can offset your home’s impact in the garden. As well as composting leftover food waste, grow plants, trees and vegetables. The main impact of growing plants and trees is encouraging wildlife to flourish and most importantly of all right now, getting bees back. Growing your own vegetables cuts down on the transportation and fossil fuel cost of moving food grown elsewhere to your location.

 

 

6 Steps to Childproofing Your Home to Prevent Electric Shocks and Injury

Keeping your children safe is of paramount importance.  While electricity is a powerful tool for good, it can also be dangerous if the proper precautions aren’t taken.  That’s why we’ve created this infographic on electrical safety to prevent electric injury.  Use this is a visual guide to help you keep your children safer.

6 steps to electrical childproofing

In our experience as one of the busiest electricians in Toronto, electrical safety is often not given the priority it rightly deserves.

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12 Home Power Tool Electrical Safety Tips

Power tools are incredibly useful but they can also be incredibly dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Luckily most tools are fairly straight forward to use and many of the safety rules and tips are simply common sense.

Here are 12 safety tips to help you master your home power tools:

  1. Make sure you always have the right tool for the job

A massive percentage of accidents with power tools are caused by people trying to save money by using tools for things they aren’t actually built for. It might seem like a good way to save time and money but it’s also a great way to injure yourself. All reputable tool products come with an owner’s manual that should outline all the purposes your tool can be used for. If you need to do something that isn’t on the list figure out what tool you actually need and buy it.

  1. Read the instructions thoroughly

It can be tempting to skim through the owner’s manual or even skip it altogether if you’ve used similar tools in the past but every tool is different. Safety procedures are generally the same for one specific type of tool but sometimes brands make their tools different enough to require different rules. Read every sentence of the owner’s manual, no matter how tedious it is, before you get started.

power tool safety
Source: Phil
  1. Disconnect power tools when not in use

Even if your power tools have safety features to keep you from accidentally turning them on keeping your tools connected is a bad idea. No safety feature is absolutely foolproof and it’s particularly easy to accidentally turn the machine on when you’re cleaning it or replacing parts. For all these reasons your tools should always be unplugged when not in use.

  1. Be careful with power cords

It should be obvious that your cord should be lined up so you aren’t likely to trip on it but many people don’t actually think about this when setting their tools up. You also need to be careful when pulling your cord out of the outlet; yanking it roughly may damage the plug. Last but not least, never carry your power tools by their cords. This is incredibly dangerous for both you and your tools.

power tool safety

  1. Keep work areas neat

Your power cord isn’t the only thing you can trip on. There are dozens of things that can be dangerous in even the smallest workshop. Even sawdust can be dangerous—it can actually ignite under the right circumstances, taking your whole workshop with it. Keeping things neat and organized also makes it easier to find what you need so you can complete your projects more quickly.

  1. Wear the right clothes

Baggy clothing and dangling jewelry can easily get stuck to power tools, destroying your clothes and potentially causing serious injury. You should also be wearing at least a pair of safety goggles and a dust mask for pretty much any work with power tools.

  1. Buy high quality ear plugs

Even the simplest power tools make an incredible amount of noise. If you’re going to be using your power tools more than once in a blue moon you need to invest in a good pair of ear plugs to protect your hearing.

  1. Stay on even footing

Using power tools on uneven footing such as a ladder or another elevated platform is far more dangerous than using the same power tools while standing on your floor. In general, you should hire a professional for any work that requires someone to get onto a ladder or other areas with uneven footing. If you really want to do something on a ladder or elevated platform yourself make sure there is someone on the floor nearby to serve as an anchor for your ladder.

  1. Secure work pieces with clamps

Any wood or other materials you’re cutting or drilling holes into with a handheld power tool should be clamped securely to a work table before you start working. If a piece is not properly secured it can cause the blade to move in the wrong direction. Unsecured pieces may also fly a significant distance from the work area, causing severe damage to you or your workshop.

  1. Inspect power tools and cords regularly

Damaged power tools can be extremely dangerous and if you’re not paying close attention small damage will often go unnoticed. Small holes in the power cord can be fixed with duct tape but if there are any large tears the cord should be immediately replaced. Safety guards should also be carefully inspected for cracks and replaced if you notice even a small amount of damage.

  1. Store power tools out of reach of children

Teaching your kids how to use power tools is great but young children shouldn’t be allowed near power tools when they aren’t under strict supervision. Keep your power tools either in a high cupboard where your kids can’t reach them or in a locked tool box.

  1. Make sure observers stay at a safe distance

Sometimes people will want to watch you work (or you’ll convince them to because you want to show off something you learned). It’s totally cool to let people watch you while you’re working but they need to stand at a safe distance and even then they should be wearing goggles and a dust mask. How far away they should stay depends on the type of work you’re doing but a bare minimum of 6 feet is ideal for most work. If your observers are kids, they should be a little bit further away.

In the end all of these tips boil down to two simple rules: be clean and be careful. If you can do those two things, you’ll reduce your risk of injury dramatically.

About the author:

Alex is a former Canadian who now lives in Australia and is an owner of Pure Envy Roof Restoration and Renovations, a leading home renovations company from Australia. Alex is passionate about safety and ensuring home renovation projects are done correctly.

8 Ways to Eradicate Your Electrical Bills This Winter in Toronto

 

Even with all the fun outdoor activities winter has to offer, many people dread the season for one reason. The heating bill. However, don’t despair, because here are eight ways to reduce your electricity bill for good:

  1. “Sweep” Nightly for Running Electronics

This seems like a very obvious piece of advice, and it’s usually the first thing people think of when they decide they want to lower their energy bills. It also may seem like it wouldn’t make that much difference. However, running a compact fluorescent lightbulb at night will add up to $9 over the course of a year, while conventional lightbulbs wind up costing $21 extra a year if run through the night. Again, these seem like inconsequential numbers, but if five conventional light bulbs get left on every night, it adds up to over $100 a year.

A large ceiling fan on high will add up to $35 over the course of the year if it runs every night, but during the winter it can actually be more efficient to let them go. Since hot air rises, a ceiling fan can redirect the hot air back down towards you.

electrician toronto winter

 

  1. Make Sure Your Water Heater is Set at 120° and Turns off at Night

Heating water accounts for about 15% of residential electricity bills. If set to a higher temperature like 140°, you will lose “standby heat” which happens because the heater is hot than the rest of the room it is in and so it will exchange heat with the colder room. Wrapping your water heater in an insulating sheathe will help, as will turning the temperature down to 120°. Turning it down when you go on vacation will also help. Water heaters can lose $36 to $61 a year from lost heat, and heating up a new tank of water can cost more than $400.

They can also be programmed to shut off at night.

  1. Change Furnace Filters Often or Get a Permanent One

When furnace filters don’t get changed often clog and make it more difficult for the furnace to draw in air which will cause the furnace to work harder. That will use more energy and drive your bill up.

Permanent filters are much more economically and mechanically friendly than replaceable ones. People often procrastinate when they need to get a new filter, but if it’s clogged with dirt, it can actually harm the heater itself and require an expensive replacement.

  1. Ensure There are No Cracks and Get Draft Guards

Cracks where air can escape through the walls or windows can add up to a whole lot of escaped heat and will also make your home less comfortable. If you have areas of your home that are impossible to heat or cool, it’s likely that you need some caulk or expanding foam to seal up the walls. Check around windows and door frames, and around the holes where pipes enter your home. Also, make sure to inspect where the frame of the house meets up with the concrete of the basement.

electrical meters toronto

  1. Check your Meter

If you know that you home is well-sealed and you always turn off the lights, but still feel you’re being charged too much, it may be your meter. If the electricity use on the meter is less than what is on your bill, you are being overcharged. If the amount on your meter matches your bill, you still might be getting overcharged if the meter is not reading correctly. Transfer Electric can make sure your meter is reading correctly and will replace it if needed.

  1. Get a Programmable Thermostat

These can be set to automatically lower the heat when no one is home and raise it when people will be there. Installing one can save $180 a year with the right programming and they are cheaper to install than they used to be.

  1. Use the Window Shades

North-facing windows get the least light, so even though it may seem that it won’t make much of a difference, it really can stop some temperature transfer between the house and outside. Even better is plastic window covering. When it’s sunny, make sure south-facing windows have their curtains open, since south-facing windows are exposed to the most sunlight.

  1. Get an Energy Audit

An audit is the best way to find out why your electrical bills are what they are. An audit will tell you where your home or business is losing energy and how you can fix those problems to make your home or business more efficient. A residential electrician can examine your home and electricity usage to determine if you are paying too much. They will examine your insulation, check for air leaks with a blower door test, check the ductwork and furnace, and even use an infrared camera to look at the distribution of heat in your building. Getting an energy audit is the best way to save money on your heating bill this winter in Ontario.

Each of these methods only makes a little bit of a difference. Add them all together, though, and you could start saving some serious money.

Photo Credit- Top photo by Axio