As I drive home each weeknight in the dark I must admit I am grateful to the folks who take it upon themselves to light up their house and yard as part of the festive season. It certainly makes my drive far more pleasant, but I am also cognizant about letting rising energy costs ruin the holiday traditions in our homes.
For example, not all holiday lighting is created equal. Think about upgrading your holiday lighting to ENERGY STAR® LED’s which use 50 percent less energy and last up to 10 times longer than older incandescent holiday lights. You can achieve even more savings by setting your decorative outdoor lighting on a timer.
Food is a central part of the holidays for many folks so it is important to be power smart in the kitchen. If you are cooking a large meal with many dishes that require using the oven, be sure to use both oven racks and cook as many dishes as possible at the same time. When using the stove top, match your pan to your element. A six-inch pan on an eight-inch burner will waste more than 40 per cent of the stove’s energy. When it comes time for reheating leftovers, remember that your microwave is about 50 percent more efficient than your oven.
Entertaining family and friends is another cherished part of the holidays for folks, but having a lot of guests over can quickly lead to increased energy consumption. If you are hosting overnight guests, reach for extra blankets before wheeling out your portable space heater. When used consistently overnight, a space heater could cost over $30 per month to operate. On the other hand, if your home will be vacant over the holidays, remember to lower your thermostat to 16 degrees C to reduce your heating costs while minimizing risk of moisture build-up in your home.
We can be as conservative as we like with our power usage, but the bottom line is that electrical costs are soaring and our incomes are not. If you are a customer of an electric utility and in a lower income home, you may qualify for a reduction on your electricity bill through the Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP).
The amount of the credit will depend on two factors: How many people live in the home and your combined household income. For example, a household with an income less than $28,000 and 1 or 2 occupants could receive a credit of $30 per month. If your home is electrically heated, or you rely on medical devices that require a lot of energy, OESP offers a higher level of assistance.
If you wish to apply you will need: your electricity bill, names, birthdates and Social Insurance Number for all residents in the home. Visit www.OntarioElectricitySupport.ca and complete the online application. Print and sign the consent form and mail it to; P.O. Box 1540 Stn B Ottawa, ON K1P 0C7. You will be notified of eligibility after your application and signed consent form have been reviewed. If you are eligible, the credit will appear directly on your electricity bill in about six to eight weeks.
For more information contact: 1-855-831-8151 1-800-855-1155 (TTY to TTY). For application assistance: Hastings County-Belleville, 228 Church St., Belleville Phone 1-866-414-0300