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Grow your family without growing your energy use

When a new baby arrives, your energy becomes even more precious. Here are some simple ways to save.

With a growing family, curbing your energy use can become a challenge. As piles of laundry, dishes and time spent using appliances and electronics rise, so does your energy consumption. Luckily, there are some simple ways you can keep energy use under control.

 

Get smarter with your technology

With newborns and young kids, time is at a premium. Using a smart thermostat can give you one less thing to think about, since it will automatically adjust the heating or cooling based on your home’s temperature level and your schedule. Plus, you can control settings from your phone or computer, even when you’re not at home. By using additional temperature sensors too, you can be sure that your smart thermostat is getting accurate readings and your rooms are remaining at ideal temperatures for your little ones.

Elsewhere in your home, look for ways to automate your energy use (and make life a little easier). Using smart light bulbs that you can control from your smartphone or a voice-controlled home assistant can help, since new parents are often bouncing from room to room with a baby in their arms. That way, you can turn off lights in the rooms you’re not using, without getting up from the rocker or putting your little one down.

Being home during the day also means you're likely to be using your TV more. Luckily, you can make simple changes to your settings, including the picture mode and sleep mode settings, to save power. For example, lower your screen brightness and take advantage of automatic screen shut-off, so if you leave the room to change diapers and forget to turn it off, you won't be wasting energy.

If you're planning to upgrade to a new TV, look for a model that's ENERGY STAR certified, so it'll use up to 27 per cent less energy. Be sure to configure the settings to save as much energy as possible.
 
Around the house, use smart power strips, too, so you can cut down on phantom power.

Build new routines

Life with a new baby is unpredictable, but there are still some basic routines you can try out to help save energy and make life a little simpler, too. First, place LED night lights around the house, for some added lighting during those late-night feedings.
 
In the kitchen, try to meal plan in advance and cook several meals in one go. Heating up your stovetop and oven just once to cook several meals will help you consume less energy. Reheat your meals in the microwave to save time and power, and when you’re finished consider unplugging your microwave (or keep it on a power bar you can switch off) to avoid phantom power.

In the laundry room, use cold water to help cut energy — don't worry, your clothes still come out clean. When drying clothes in the summer, try using a clothesline or drying rack. While you may not be able to wait on those onesies, try at least using a rack for your own clothes if you don't need them immediately, so you can reserve the dryer for your little one’s things.

If you're investing in any new appliances, always look for ones that are ENERGY STAR certified. Washers with that label can use up to 25 per cent less energy than standard models, and ENERGY STAR dryers can use up to 20 per cent less. ENERGY STAR certified dishwashers, meanwhile, use up to 12 per cent less energy, as well as use up to 30 per cent less water, on average.
 
If you can, save charging electronics and running large appliances, like your washer, dryer and dishwasher, for off-peak hours (and run them when they have full loads, too).
 
Another new habit to develop is to check your energy use more regularly. Most local hydro companies offer real-time data through your online account, so you can check out how you're doing and what times of day you may be able to use less energy.

Maximize your space

Take advantage of weather-stripping and caulking to reduce drafts and keep your rooms more comfortable for your whole family, all year long.

Expanding your family is also a great time to start rethinking how to use your space more effectively on a bigger scale. Many Ontarians turn to renovating partially or completely unfinished basements for playrooms, office space and even extra bedrooms for overnight guests, like in-laws. If a bigger project like that is in the cards for you, make quality insulation your priority, to make your heating and cooling run more efficiently.
 
Think about upgrading your windows during a renovation, too. Depending on the model, ENERGY STAR “Most Efficient” window models may be up to 40 per cent more efficient than non-certified windows. In fact, replacing your windows with energy-efficient ones can help you save up to eight per cent on your energy bills, on average.

With all the new challenges that come with parenting, your energy consumption doesn't have to be an added worry. Trying out just a few of these tips can help you save more on your bills and get more out of your home, so you can focus on what matters – your family.

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