How to save energy but stay warm during Alberta’s first cold snap of 2020

Sunday, January 12, 2020   /   by Sergey Korostensky

How to save energy but stay warm during Alberta’s first cold snap of 2020

As Albertans plunge into the first stretch of frigid temperatures this winter season, higher energy bills should also be expected.
Furnaces will be working overtime to keep homes heated, and with more people hunkering down inside, electricity use will also be up.
ENMAX says for every 10 degrees below zero, a typical Alberta home will use 8% more electricity and 40% more natural gas
Every time the temperature dips by 10 degrees, we use eight per cent more electricity and 40 per cent more natural gas, according to ENMAX.

Aside from turning your thermostat up, here are few activities that may cause higher electricity usage during colder weather:

  • Using an electric heater to keep warm
  • Turning on more lights due to less natural light
  • Plugging in your car to keep your engine block warm

Last year, Calgary recorded its coldest February in 83 years, and that resulted in a huge surge in energy consumption.

ENMAX data shows it went up by more than 22,000 megawatt-hours compared to the same time the previous year.

To put that in perspective, that’s the equivalent of powering around 3,400 average-sized homes for a full year.

Peak consumption of 1,540 MW was recorded by ENMAX on Feb. 4, 2019, just shy of the winter record, which was set in 2013 at 1,653 MW

There are ways to keep the warm air in and cold air out and it starts with checking your furnace filter.

David Hornstein with Aquality Plumbing & Heating Inc. says if your airflow is restricted, the whole unit can overheat.

He also advises home owners regularly check the vent pipes on the outside of building.

“It could be as simple as coming out and cleaning off some condensate and frost that’s here, then reset your furnace inside, and you could avoid a service call by doing that,” said Hornstein.
Tips to be more winter-wise from ENMAX:

Seal up areas around windows


Proper sealing can save you up to 30 per cent on your heating bill.

Most windows and doors around your home will develop gaps over time that let cold air in and warm air escape.

ENMAX recommends sealing up obvious areas around windows and adding weatherstripping around exterior doors.

Clear space around air vents


Making sure warm air is circulating properly is the key to heating efficiency.

Make sure there’s space around your air vents by moving furniture, rugs or other items.

If a vent is hidden under furniture, ENMAX suggests using an air deflector to direct warm air out into the room.

Lower the humidity


Winter in Calgary are dry, and many people depend on humidifiers to help with irritated and itchy skin.
However, keep in mind that high humidity draws heat away from your body and can, as a result, make you feel colder.

Lowering the humidifier setting to 30 – 40 per cent will keep you comfortable without making you turn up the heat.

Use the sun’s energy to help heat your home


Calgary is the sunniest of Canada’s large cities, so take advantage!

Take a load off your furnace by opening your blinds and curtains while the sun is shining to help heat your home.

However, ENMAX suggests you make sure to close your blinds and curtains at night to help keep the heat from escaping too quickly.

Click HERE for a full list of tips on how to take control of your energy use this winter.