"Sweating the details" can help Alberta homeowners save on winter heating costs

Half of Albertans are willing to wear multiple sweaters indoors in lieu of winter-proofing their home

CALGARY, Oct. 1, 2015 /CNW/ - While Albertans are willing to do just about anything to heat their homes more efficiently, many homeowners are freezing themselves out of potential savings by focusing their energy in the wrong places.

According to a new survey released today by Direct Energy, 51 per cent of all homeowners said they'd be willing to wear multiple sweaters indoors in order to save money, yet more than half (52%) of Albertans have never updated their windows as a winter-proofing tactic, and 44 per cent have never sealed gaps or cracks in their walls.

In addition, many homeowners have developed bad habits— occasionally leaving the lights on while not home or not in the room (50%), leaving the windows/door open when the heat is on (29%), and leaving electronic devices (TV, computer, radio/music) on while sleeping or away from home (81%).  Recognizing their bad habits, 67 per cent of Albertans agree that they would be interested in learning more about how to make their home more energy efficient.

"While our survey shows there's room for improvement, it's encouraging to see that the vast majority of Albertans are committed to reducing their energy consumption this winter," said Joshua Orzech, Director, Direct Energy Home Services Alberta. "The good news is there are simple steps homeowners can implement to reduce their energy bills and save in the long run."

Interestingly, while nine out of ten Albertans pay a monthly fee for various types of entertainment (cable TV, video streaming services, magazine subscriptions, music streaming services, satellite radio, etc.), 88 per cent of survey respondents said they don't currently subscribe to a furnace maintenance program, and 39 per cent felt a maintenance program was too expensive.

Despite costing only $9.99 per month (plus GST), a mere one dollar more than certain popular video streaming services, HVAC maintenance plans save homeowners time and money in addition to protecting the health and safety of the whole family. Direct Energy advises homeowners to have their furnace professionally inspected by a licensed technician every year to ensure the furnace in proper working order.

Regular furnace maintenance reduces monthly heating bills by ensuring it is operating at peak efficiency. Regular maintenance also increases the lifespan of your furnace while making sure manufacturers' warranties remain valid. Regular checks and adjustments can also help detect carbon monoxide leaks, reduce dust particles and bacteria, and help prevent unexpected, middle-of-the-night furnace breakdowns.

While 90 per cent of Alberta homeowners have changed their furnace filter in the past year, Direct Energy recommends doing so every three to six months, because filters play a big role in furnace efficiency. By regularly changing or cleaning your furnace filter, you can save approximately $50 each year on your energy bill, while improving your home's air quality.

"Direct Energy is unique in that we're the only company that actually wants people to use less of what we sell," said Orzech. "As Albertans brace themselves for another long, cold winter, we're eager to provide homeowners with simple steps they can implement to reduce their energy bills and save in the long run."

How to increase your home's energy efficiency:

  • Winter-proof gaps and cracks in your walls. Sealing these leaks can save you up to 20 per cent on your heating bill. The cost of materials is also under $2.
  • Program your thermostat to raise and lower the temperature in your home automatically so you're not heating the home when you don't need to. You can save up to four per cent on your heating bill by programming your thermostat to a lower temperature at night and after you leave for work.
  • Set ceiling fans to turn in a clockwise direction to push the warm air down in to the room.
  • Using a humidifier will make the air feel warmer, allowing you to turn down the thermostat.
  • Have the furnace inspected and maintained in the fall to ensure it works safely and efficiently for the winter. A tune up can save up to 3 to 10 per cent on a homeowner's next heating bill.
  • Approximately 20 per cent of heating costs are from the water heater. Upgrading to a tankless water heater, and heating water only when needed, can reduce costs by almost 30 per cent.

About the survey
From August 17th to 21st, 2015 an online survey was conducted among 1,014 Albertans who are homeowners that have a forced air heating system run by natural gas or electricity. Respondents are also Vision Critical Canadian Community panel members. The margin of error —which measures sampling variability— is +/- 4.4%, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.

About Direct Energy
Direct Energy is one of North America's largest leading energy and energy-related services provider with nearly five million residential and commercial customers. Direct Energy provides customers with choice and support in managing their energy costs through a portfolio of innovative products and services. A subsidiary of Centrica plc (LSE: CNA), one of the world's leading integrated energy companies, Direct Energy operates in 50 U.S. states plus the District of Columbia and 10 provinces in Canada. To learn more about Direct Energy, please visit www.directenergy.com.

SOURCE Direct Energy Home Services

For further information: Jessica Michan, Direct Energy, (713) 805-7306 Cell

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