Expert offers energy conservation tips

With the cost of electricity an increasing concern in Ontario and elsewhere, about 30 Fort Frances Power Corp. customers got numerous conservation tips here last Thursday evening in the auditorium at the Memorial Sports Centre.
In 2004, the province mandated that a “culture of conservation” be established by all electricity distributors in Ontario, leading those distributors to kick off campaigns this past spring, noted guest speaker Wayne Sunohara, supervisor of energy conservation services for Thunder Bay Hydro.
And a significant part of this new “culture” is getting all hydro customers thinking about how use to less electricity—and maximize the efficiency of the power they do use.
In a primarily electricity-powered home, Sunohara noted 68 percent of the total power used is for space heating/cooling, followed by 18 percent for domestic water heating, 10 percent for major appliances, two percent for lighting, and two percent for miscellaneous items.
As such, Sunohara stressed all heating equipment should be cleaned for maximum efficiency, air filters should be kept clean, and furnaces should be calibrated for proper combustion efficiency.
Likewise, cooling systems must be serviced and cleaned. Like heaters, unclean cooling coils use more power to be less efficient than clean ones.
Hot water use and loss is another major factor to consider, so leaky faucets should fixed, low-flow aerators should be installed on showers, hot water supply piping should be insulated, time clocks should installed on circulation pumps, and hot water supply temperatures can be reduced. As well, water heaters that produce hot water on demand are an option.
Sunohara also stressed people should make the distinction between Energuide and Energy Star stickers on fridges, stoves, and other appliances.
The former sticker does not mean that appliance is designed to be energy-efficient—simply that its been certified by the CSA. Only appliances with the Energy Star stickers mean the appliance will save you electricity—and money.
Besides choosing Energy Star-approved products, some more general appliance tips include:
•Set your fridge temperature for only as cold as you need (check manufacturer’s recommendations);
•Don’t overfill the refrigerator as this blocks air circulation. Conversely, a full freezer will perform better than an empty one.
•Check your refrigerator’s door seal to see if it should be adjusted or replaced;
•Clean your refrigerator’s coils (back) and air intake grill (below the doors) every three months;
•Use an electric kettle to boil water—not the stove, which is less efficient;
•Generally, thaw frozen foods in the refrigerator before cooking unless the label says otherwise;
•Turn off the oven just before finishing (it will remain hot long enough to complete the job);
•For smaller cooking jobs generally, use smaller appliances (i.e., instead of your range or cooktop, use the electric kettle, toaster oven, or microwave.);
•Don’t waste hot water by pre-rinsing dishes before putting them in the dishwasher (just scrape off food and empty liquids);
•Air dry your dishes (you can save 10 percent of the cost of operation);
•Load dishes according to manufacturer’s instructions to allow for proper water circulation;
•Check and clean drains and filters regularly to ensure efficient operation;
•Run full loads whenever possible, but don’t overload the machines;
•Try using cold or warm water for the wash cycle instead of hot water. Hot water shrinks and fades your clothes, and wears them out more quickly;
•Make sure clothes are effectively wrung before putting them in the dryer (front-loading washers are the best at squeezing the water out);
•Separate loads into heavy, medium, and lightweight items (lighter loads will take less drying time than a mixture of items);
•Dry consecutive loads to utilize otherwise wasted heat from the dryer;
•Clean the lint filter after every load (a clogged lint filter can increase energy use up to 30 percent and may be a fire hazard.);
•Consider using a clothesline to dry your laundry;
•Be sure to at least shut off the computer screen as 60 percent of the power used by a computer is used by the monitor (the other 40 percent is used to keep your hard drive spinning and to power the electronics);
•Put your home entertainment systems on a power bar and turn off the bar when you are not using them (components without clocks and timers);
•Unplug infrequently used TVs as many continue to draw power even when turned off;
•Switch to compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFL). These last about eight times as long as incandescent bulbs and use 75 percent less energy to produce the same amount of light (replacing a 100-watt incandescent bulb with a 25-watt CFL will save an estimated $30 in electricity over the life of each bulb);
•For any light that must be on all night (e.g., stairways), replace the bulbs with the lowest wattage bulbs that you’re comfortable with or consider a CFL or a nightlight;
•Decorate your home with illumination in mind—lighter colours reflect light so use them in areas you want to be bright; and
•Keep light fixtures clean (a cleaner bulb is a brighter bulb).
Sunohara said Thunder Bay Hydro’s campaign has been going very well, with people there starting to switching over to compact fluorescent bulbs and now starting to move up to buying more energy-efficient appliances, spurred on buyback programs and similar initiatives.
FFPC CEO and president Jim Kibiuk echoed energy conservation and demand management have been identified as one of the most viable and cost-efficient means of meeting the province’s energy needs.
He added the FFPC is committed to participating in the province-wide energy conservation incentive programs, which started this past spring.
The FFPC is providing a mix of different programs to benefit all utility customers, including:
•a public communications program;
•leveraging existing energy conservation programs;
•a compact fluorescent light promotion program;
•a LED Christmas light conversion program;
•a LED traffic light conversion program;
•a “switch to cold” program, encouraging residents to utilize cold water when doing laundry to save electricity; and
•a distribution system improvement program to optimize efficiency.
And most of these already are underway. For instance, the LED light exchange kicked off several weeks ago while FFPC customers got coupons for “Cold Water Tide” in their bills last month.
The town’s traffic lights are expected to be converted to LED early next year.
Last Thursday night’s presentation also included coffee, doughnuts, “energy saving” door prizes, and a free compact fluorescent light bulb for everyone who attended.
The FFPC’s LED Christmas light exchange also continued.
Sunohara also gave an presentation at the arena during the Thursday lunch hour to around 50 people from area businesses and organizations.
This was similar to the one made to residential FFPC customers, but focused somewhat more on energy concerns of businesses than homes (such as converting fluorescent lighting; more efficient exterior lighting; heating/cooling of large storage areas; timed lighting for when the business is not open; using block heater controls so vehicles are not getting electricity the entire day an employee’s at work; and variable speed drives for pans, pumps, and conveyors).
For more information on energy conservation, check out the FFPC’s website at www.fort-frances.com/ffpc

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