While we all use energy differently, in general, energy is mostly used for heating and cooling the home, with hot water coming in second.

Good energy habits help you save money and the way we use energy plays a big role in how much we’re paying for it. For example, if you leave the hot water running constantly while you’re shaving, you’re using a lot of hot water just to rinse the razor a few times.

Simple choices we make every day can go a long way to help us manage our energy use, cut costs and protect the environment around the year. Here are a few tips to help you conserve energy in your home.

1- Choose off-peak hours
Take advantage of lower energy prices during off-peak hours. Consider running your dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer early in the morning, in the evening or on weekends when electricity rates are lowest.

2- Use the dishwasher and washer wisely
Try to cut down on power by air drying instead of using the heater. Try washing your clothes in cold water to save hot water costs.

3- Use a programmable thermostat to reduce energy use.
Install a programmable thermostat to automate your heating and cooling. It makes it easier to reduce your energy use when you’re not home and when you’re sleeping.

4- Use your appliances properly
Did you know that an uncrowded fridge works more efficiently than a crowded one? However, a freezer works best when they are two-thirds full. When you’re using the dishwasher wait to do a full load. A half-empty dishwasher uses the same amount of energy as a full one.

5- Consider caulking and weather stripping
Plugging up air leaks is relatively inexpensive and delivers a great return summer and winter. Look for cracks around windows and doorframes. Also check the sill plate, where your home’s foundation meets the frame. It could be a big source of air leaks.

6- Find your top 10 locations for compact fluorescent (CFL) bulbs
It pays to replace your most frequently used incandescent bulbs with CFLs. They use 75% less power and last up to 10 times as long.

7- Buy ENERGY STAR® Appliances
Save energy and fight climate change with ENERGY STAR qualified products. They use less energy, save money, and help protect the environment. According to ENERGY STAR, if just one in 10 homes used ENERGY STAR-qualified appliances, the impact could be compared to planting 1.7 million new acres of trees. Switching to these appliances is not only good for the environment, but is easy on your pocketbook. Although these appliances may cost more, you can reduce your energy bill by approximately $80 per year.

The age, condition and efficiency of your appliances plays a big role in how much energy you use, so it’s important to keep them in good working order, and at some point, consider upgrading to the most energy-efficient models.


2013 Forcast: Another business as usual year for housing in B.C. and Metro Vancouver


About a year ago, in January 2012, I read an article in Maclean's Magazine entitled What happens when Canada's

housing bubble pops? "The signs of a bubble are unequivocal." the author wrote. A year later, the same magazine released another article: Great Canadian Real Estate Crash of 2013: The housing bubble has burst, and few will

emerge unscathed. Both articles attempt to make a tenuous link between the emotive and provocative titles that

they carry and the reality of facts on the ground particularly as far as the Vancouver housing market is concerned.

So what exactly did occur in the Vancouver housing market over the past year and what does a "burst bubble" look

like, as bearish commentators such as Maclean's like to suggest? More importantly, for new home buyers, what

can you really expect to see in the Metro Vancouver market in 2013?

The latest BC Assessment values released earlier this month indicate that almost every municipality in Metro

Vancouver demonstrated gains in assessed residential values for 2012. residential assessment values in the

City of Vancouver increased by 2.2 per cent, in the City of Burnaby they increased by 3.99 per cent, in the city of

Surrey values increased by 5.15 per cent and in the Township of Langley values increased by 3.13 per cent.

However, the City of Richmond did not follow the trend of increased values across Metro Vancouver in 2012,

and experienced a decline in overall assessed values of 0.64 per cent - hardly a bubble bursting by any measure.

As well, a very marginal decline in the value of some high-end single family homes in that municipality masks the

fact that the assessed value of condos in Richmond has actually increased by up to 5.1 per cent over the course

of 2012. What remains clear for current and future homeowners in Metro Vancouver, is that the underlying

fundamentals of the housing market remain strong. Homeowners in 2013 are receiving assessments confirming

that the value of their properties continue to increase incrementally, and at the very least, are remaining stable.

It's slow and steady according to the BC Assessment roll for most of the Vancouver area.

The year ahead is likely to be a lot like the year just passed, in UDI's view. Acknowledging that total home sales

have declined in B.C. year-over-year by about 12 per cent (based on the latest available quarterly figures from

Landcor Data Corp.), this has evidently not translated into bubble-bursting price declines. It has ensured,

however, that price increases have been limited and will remain stable throughout 2013 in a more competitive

and normalized market.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp (CMHC) - the Canadian government's provider of mortgage insurance -

also specifically addressed the bubble issue as recently as November 2012, saying "Overall, demographic and

economic factors continue to support the Canadian housing market including growth in employment and net

migration." Indeed, according to BC Stats, the net population increase in the province is approximately 43,000

each year and all those people will need a home to live in.

Meanwhile the urban development industry in B.C., which the Urban Development Institute represents, is building

about 25,000 new homes annually. Should, for whatever reason, construction in B.C. slow and new housing

supply fail to keep up with that demand, then upward pressure on home prices is more likely than any decline.

Reliable signs point to a business-as-usual year for B.C. and Metro Vancouver housing.

The bubble is non-existent. The sky is still there.


Source: Anne McMullin, President and CEO, Urban Development Institute 

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