Devices like power strips and smart thermostats offer consumers a cost-effective means to lessen the environmental footprint and save electricity costs without compromising convenience.

Power Strip: A simple and painless way to improve energy efficiency is to cut down on waste. Any time you turn off an electronic device and its lights continue to glow, it is still using electricity. This ‘phantom power’ adds up; it accounts for an estimated 5 – 10% of household energy usage. A power strip offers a convenient way to turn the power off at the outlet overnight or when you leave home. An added feature on some power strips is a built-in timer, sometimes for multiple outlets. The timer can be programmed to turn the power source off when devices are not in use and turn them on before you customarily use your computer, television, or other electronics.

Programmable thermostats and smart thermostats are devices that are used to automatically regulate temperatures suitable for sleeping, waking hours, and hours away from home. The difference between the two is that a smart thermostat can be linked to your smartphone, computer or tablet enabling remote control of your home heating. Another difference is cost. A smart thermostat is more expensive than a simpler programmable thermostat, although a rebate from Energy Efficiency Alberta on qualified smart thermostats makes them more affordable at this writing. Either device enables you to choose appropriate heating or cooling settings and lower your energy cost. Natural Resources Canada estimates that using a programmable or smart thermostat can reduce the energy used for home heating by at least 8%.

Refrigerator: If there is room in the household budget for a larger energy-efficient product, have a look at your refrigerator. New models consume up to 30% less electricity than a 20-year-old fridge, making it a prime candidate for replacement if you are trying to use less energy. Natural Resources Canada recommends that you recycle your old fridge instead of moving it to the basement or garage where it would continue to operate inefficiently.