BOOST YOUR HOME’S ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Taking steps to ensure your home is as energy efficient as possible is not only good for the environment, it’s good for you wallet. Your efforts to conserve energy around the house mean lower utility bills and less risk of hazards and costly insurance claims. Thankfully, many of the things you can do to make your home more energy-efficient are simple and easy to implement. Let the checklist below be your guide.
Keeping your house warm when it’s cold outside takes up the largest piece of the energy-consumption pie in most households. So, it’s a natural place to start when you are looking to conserve energy. The following tips will help you keep your home warm with less energy regardless of the type of heating system you use.
- Prevent heat from escaping with proper insulation. Check your house for areas that are not airtight and reinforce them with caulking or weather stripping. You can purchase these inexpensive solutions at any hardware store.
- Use the sun as much as possible to naturally heat your home. During the day, open your blinds and drapes to add warmth to the room.
- Perform annual maintenance checks of your heating system to ensure it is working properly.
- Replace your furnace filter every three months.
IMPROVING AIR FLOW
- Remove obstructions from your home’s air vents. Check for curtains, appliances or furniture that may be trapping heat and preventing it from properly circulating throughout your home.
- Turn on ceiling fans to help circulate warm air, especially if you have one in a room with a gas fireplace.
- Remember, heat rises so keep your basement warm and allow the heat to rise to the rest of the house.
- Keep your chimney damper closed when the fireplace is not in use.
- Vacuum vents and warm air registers to keep dust and pet hair from blocking air flow.
USING A PROGRAMMABLE THERMOSTAT
- If you don’t have one, switching to a programmable thermostat will help you shave money off your utility bill by automatically adjusting the temperature to reduce energy use during times when you are sleeping or are not at home.
USING A GAS FIREPLACE
- Properly sealed gas fireplaces are excellent way to add warmth to living areas.
COOLING YOUR HOME
- If you use a room air conditioner to keep your home cool, be sure to replace the filter at least once during the hot summer months to maximize the unit’s efficiency and to prevent damage.
- Call a service technician immediately if your air conditioner is not functioning properly. Continuing to operate the unit with leaking refrigerant is bad for the environment.
MAINTAINING YOUR FAUCETS
- Leaking faucets are not only annoying; they waste water and increase your water bill unnecessarily. Over the course of a month, those little drops add up to fill more than 15 bathtubs.
- Using a microwave oven or toaster oven instead of a conventional oven can save you up to 50 percent in cooking energy. Be sure to place both appliances in an area where air can circulate easily. Always select a pot that fits the cooking element you are using. Cooking with the lid also helps your dish retain heat and reduces your cooking time.
- Use an electric kettle instead of a stove-top kettle to heat water.
- During the summer, cook outside using your gas barbecue instead of heating up the house by cooking in the kitchen.
- Turn off the water while washing the dishes.
- Replace old appliances with energy-efficient ones that carry the ENERGY STAR® logo.
IN YOUR BATHROOMS
- Install low-flow showerheads to save water each time you shower
Use a bathroom fan that has automatic humidity sensors and turns off automatically once excess moisture is removed.
THE LAUNDRY ROOM
- When washing clothes, always select a water level that fits your wash load.
- Use cold water instead of hot water for your laundry to save up to 90 percent energy per wash load.
- Increase the spin cycle for bulky items to help reduce drying time.
- Clean your dryer’s lint filter before each load to maximize dryer operation.
- Whenever possible line dry your clothes instead of using the dryer.
BE AWARE OF TOW TRUCK SCAMS
Most tow truck operators provide a fair and valuable service to those in need. However, some operators have made side deals with repair shops or storage facilities that pay them a commission for bringing in your vehicle. Not only is this practice unethical, it can result in poor quality repairs and/or hefty storage, administrative and environmental charges if you decide to change shops.
If your vehicle is not drivable after being in an accident, have the tow truck operator take it to a Claims Reporting Centre (CRC), if one is available in your area. If not, have it towed to the repair shop of your choice. The centre will pay the towing bill on your behalf and provide 24-hours FREE storage. Your insurance company will then authorize a damage appraisal and arrange to have your vehicle towed to a repair facility of your choice.
If a tow truck operator promises you a free courtesy car, additional bodywork at no cost, or offers to pay your deductible, you are likely being scammed. To avoid being a victim, do not sign a waiver allowing your vehicle to be towed from the CRC. A reputable towing company will never ask you to sign a waiver.
If you are involved in an accident, call your insurance broker as soon as possible. We will answer all your questions and help get you back to life as usual as quickly as possible.
Do not sign a waiver allowing your vehicle to be towed from a Collision Reporting Centre (CRC).
THE DO-IT-YOURSELF ROADSIDE EMERGENCY KIT
If your job or hobbies require you to drive long distances through remote areas or in extreme or unpredictable conditions, a well-stocked roadside emergency kit could be a real lifesaver. Life never warns you that today is the day your car will break down and leave you and your passengers stranded on a highway or remote back road. But, if you take the advice in this article and customize your own roadside emergency kit now, you will be prepared for the unexpected when it happens.
The checklist below includes a wide range of options you can pick and choose from based on your driving routine and taking into account the weather conditions and terrain you might encounter in the areas you travel through and to. To assemble the best kit for your needs ask yourself the following:
- How long do I typically travel?
- Do I mostly drive through remote areas or through the city?
- Do I drive at night?
- Is it possible I will run into bad weather?
During the winter, in particular, you will want to make adjustments to your roadside emergency kit so that you’re prepared if you have to spend the night (or longer) in your car until help arrives.
WHAT TO INCLUDE YOUR KIT
Keeping the following items neatly tucked away in your trunk and glove compartment will give you peace of mind no matter where you travel.
- Spare tire and tire-inflator
- Jumper cables
- Flashlight with backup batteries
- First-aid kit that includes a seat belt cutter
- Road flares or other warning light
- Utility knife
- A whistle to attract attention
- Road map and compass
- Tow rope
- Fire extinguisher
- Emergency phone numbers
- Ice scraper with snow brush
- Small shovel
- Axe or hatchet
- Small bag of sand or other abrasive for traction
- Matches and deep can candles (perfect for light, warmth and melting snow)
- Blanket (preferably a survival blanket)
- Warm clothing and footwear
- Antifreeze and windshield washer fluid
- Fresh bottled water (replace after six months)
- Non-perishable, high-energy snacks (nuts, dried fruit, peanut butter, energy bars)
- Paper towels and hand sanitizer
- Emergency sign for your dashboard
In addition to packing these helpful survival tools, you should always travel with a fully charged cell phone and car charger.
While the 22 items on the checklist may seem like a lot to tote around, most of these items will fit easily into a small box in your trunk. It’s better to have them on hand and never need them than to be stranded and wish you had them. Be safe!