If you live in Canada and you’re anywhere outside of the Greater Vancouver region, you’re most likely tired of hearing about our cold snap. If you’re in Vancouver though, you’re probably glad for the chance to have something other than the high-cost of living to grumble about with strangers on the bus. It’s abnormally chilly here in Vancouver; we’ve had the coldest winter in 30 years which has taxed both our municipal and our personal resources to the limit. Our city is built for rain not snow – we can deal with floods like a champ, but this last season saw our garbage/recycling/compost left in alleys for over a month, roads and sidewalks, even main arteries, sat un-ploughed and caked in black-ice, businesses closed early or didn’t open at all and the entire region was bereft of salt.
It’s January 23rd, the sun is shining and it’s 7 degrees outside right now. Our horrid 44-day long winter is only a memory – or so I thought. I received my hydro bill in the mail last week, and it was almost $300! I’m a single mom; this just isn’t in my budget! Before my son came along, I’d just spend more time at work and pull out the blankets at night, but living with an 18-month-old means staying in, doing laundry every day, and baseboard heaters on to counter a semi-naked existence lived under the 3” mark.
So I did a little research to see what I could do to cut corners. First step? Track my usage. Here in BC we have “Smart Meters”. It was a bit of a dramatic headache when they were installed, but IMO they’re great. They break down your usage by hour so I was able to test how much electricity was increased when I used the major appliances like washer, dryer and dishwasher. Big surprise – each one load cost only about $0.50 each, which is better than I thought!
Next step: Insulate. Look at this weather-stripping! Picking away at it is the cat’s way of letting me know she needs in or out; year after year she’s left a 2 inch gap under my door in which the cold air can sail right through. One click and I ordered up some new weather-stripping on Amazon and it’ll be here in a snap. Hopefully these will be as easy to install as they look in the pictures. I also bought some window insulation, but as it has wormed up, I’m keeping that in the closet until next year.
Next up, I bought these amazingly effective, simple, and inexpensive foam backings at Home Depot to insulate the face-plates covering my light switches and electrical outlets. They took approximately 30 seconds to put on, and I can already feel the house warming up. It’s amazing how much heat you lose when you consider all of the holes that are punched in your walls leading directly outside (and remember, here in Vancouver, the houses are not built and insulated like in the rest of Canada. Think the middle-piggy’s wooden house). I finished these up with Safety First plug protectors to complete the seal.
Finally, I know that I need to reduce my usage. I rent, so I’m not really into paying big bucks for a fancy Nest thermostat but I can commit to turning down the heat in the house (except for the baby’s room) when I go to bed at night, and not turning it back on until I get back from work. Plus, I picked up a folding clothes-drying rack. Even if it only saves me $10 a month, that will add up to over a $100 a year. I’ve been needing one of these for ages, and it’ll be paid for the next time it saves a pair of pants that I would have accidentally shrunk in the dryer.
I’d love to know if anyone has any other tips for keeping my small suite warm in the winter and cool in the summer – I’d like to be a bit more proactive for the next extreme weather changes instead of reacting after the bills roll in! I’m thinking that this will be the end of our Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Winter, but these small investments will not only last through future winters, but also help out in our hot-hot- heat filled 28 degree summers. In the meantime, $300 is a small price to pay for the memories of my son’s first snowfall.
*** I’m not really a lifestyle blogger, so instead of the Amazon links being routed through my own Amazon storefont, all proceeds for products bought through these links will be donated to the Red Cross. ***
Twitter: Is your cheque-book feeling the lingering effects of #winter? Check out these #costsaving #tips to keep you #warm.
Facebook: The sun is shining, the snow has gone, but the winter bills are just starting to roll in. Check out some cost-saving tips I’ve put together to warm up your house and relieve the pressure on your cheque-book.