Archive for the ‘Saving Money’ Category

The New Couponing: Save Money on Groceries, Part Two

Monday, January 25th, 2016
The New Couponing: Save Money on Groceries, Part Two | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Do you feel as though you need to take out a second mortgage these days to pay for groceries in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region? My recent blog article entitled “Hurting From Alberta’s Recession? 12 Tips to Save Money on Groceries” mentioned coupons as a way to save money at the till.

Where do you find coupons?

The old way was to clip coupons or rebate offers printed in newspapers and magazines, or pick them up at the grocery store. But much greater numbers of the discounts offered by stores and manufacturers can now be found on the Internet. You can achieve surprising savings this way.

Online Coupon Sites:

These websites provide coupons (for many things, not just groceries) that you can print out from your computer, or have sent to you by mail. You will need to spend time familiarizing yourself with each site’s offerings and be aware of regional offers and expiry dates, but the money you save can really add up.

Canadian Free Stuff
Coupon Click.ca
Free.ca
Grocery Alerts.ca  (see especially: (SmartSource printable coupons Smart Source will also send you sample packs of items, but that is a blog post for another day!)
Mrs. January.com
P&G Everyday (Proctor & Gamble:  Samples from P&G too, some of them full size products!)
Red Flag Deals.com
Retail Me Not
Save.ca
Save a Loonie.com
Saveland.ca
Smart Canucks.ca
Simply Frugal.ca
Valpak.com
Websaver.ca

***Check out this digital couponing app — no more printed coupons: Coupgon  (Read “Coupgon: Digital Couponing for Canadians” for the details.)

Cash Back Smartphone Apps:

These apps pay you cash after you upload a photo of your grocery receipt. Usually, the payment comes after a minimum dollar value has been accrued. The advantages to this system are that you don’t have to carry around printed coupons, and often there will be rebates on items for which coupons are almost never offered, such as produce. Here are four of the best:

Checkout 51   (See “Checkout 51: The Ultimate Guide“)

Snap by Groupon  (See “Snap by Groupon: Everything You Need to Know“)

Zweet   (See “Zweet – New Cash-Back Rebate App” )

CartSmart  (See “CartSmart: Canadian Money-Saving App“)

***For even more information about these apps, plus 2 others.

Other Apps:

Two more apps to make grocery shopping simpler and save you money:

Flipp
Enter your postal code and you’ll see dozens of flyers for stores in your area. Set up your favourites list to find flyers for your preferred stores. The search feature allows you to find just the items you’re looking for, along with local deals. Price matching is then a snap. You can also create a shopping list if you tap on the items you want to buy.

Save.ca Mobile
Browse flyers, redeem cash-back offers, create shopping lists and more.

Do you have money-saving tips to share? Let me know and I’ll feature them in future blog posts. Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Hurting from Alberta’s Recession? 12 Tips to Save Money on Groceries

Wednesday, January 20th, 2016

Hurting from Alberta’s Recession? 12 Tips to Save Money on Groceries | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamOil prices below $30 per barrel, much higher prices at the grocery store, and paying a lot more for everything imported as the loonie plunges are leaving many residents of Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County bewildered and wondering how to cope.

Financial advisors typically suggest that we prepare and follow a budget, keep track of expenses, spend less than we earn, and so on. What are some easy to follow tips that won’t make you feel that you have to lower your standard of living?

 

Today’s focus is on cutting food costs.

1.  Prepare your meals at home from scratch to stretch your food dollars the farthest. The vast quantities of pre-prepared and processed food items at the grocery store may be convenient but they will cost you more. And if you think you don’t know how to cook – it’s never too late to learn!

2.  Deliberately cook more than you’ll consume for dinner. Then package and freeze the rest for another meal, or plan to pack it for your lunch the next day. Bringing your lunch from home instead of paying restaurant prices will save you big.

3.  Learn what groceries cost. This means educating yourself about how much the price of the same item can differ from one store to another, or from one week or season to the next. Study the prices in the stores and better yet, read the flyers. Some people shop only in the one store that they feel has the best deals or the best selection. Other people visit several stores in order to save the most money on individual items. Find a strategy that works for you.

4.  Plan ahead. Make a list before you go shopping based on: a) what you need for meals for the next week, b) what your family will use up before the next shopping trip, and especially c) what is on sale as listed in the store’s flyer. Stick to the list, and avoid impulse buys. Don’t buy more than you can comfortably store and use. Shop just once a week, or less. You’ve probably also heard the advice not to shop on an empty stomach!

5.  Buying in bulk is cheaper than buying small packages and makes sense for food items that keep for a long time and are used often in your home. Do a lot of baking? Buy the largest bags of sugar and flour you can find (on sale, please!) and store them appropriately. Looking to sample something for the first time? A small package may be more economical in the long run.

6.  Be aware of the tricks stores use to get you to buy more or to buy higher priced items in a particular category. A store in Spruce Grove routinely offers cottage cheese for a special price – but only if you buy three large containers. Good deal if your family consumes a lot of cottage cheese; not so great if half of it spoils before you use it.

Note how items are displayed on store shelves. Higher priced and name brand items tend to occupy the real estate within easy reach and at eye level. Take the time to compare prices between brands and between different sizes of the same product.

7.  Ask yourself if you must have the name brand you’ve seen advertised on TV (for a premium price; they have to pay for that advertising somehow!), or if the generic or store brand item could be just as good. Generic (“no name”) and store brand items are usually manufactured by the same companies that produce the name brand stuff but without the fancy packaging. No name butter? Half the price of the name brand stuff and tastes just the same!

8.  Along with ditching many name brand products for cheaper but just as good no name or store brand items, consider what you regularly put on your plate. Deliberately seek out cheaper options, such as cheaper cuts of meat, “manager’s specials”, or even less meat. Look also for meat and produce that has been discounted. A local grocery store slaps “30% off” stickers early in the morning on meat that is close to its best before date. Substitute cheaper and often healthier and just as flavorful fruits and vegetables, especially those grown closer to home, for more exotic and imported produce.

Hurting from Alberta’s Recession? 12 Tips to Save Money on Groceries | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam9.  In the summer months, patronize your local farmers’ markets for the freshest and healthiest produce. Often cheaper too than what you’ll find at the store. Should you grow your own garden? That depends. In truth, you may not save money since seeds, bedding plants, fertilizer, water and gardening tools all cost money. What’s more, the garden tends to yield its bounty all at once, providing far more than most people can use at one time. However, if your family is large and you are prepared to can or freeze the harvest for later use, a garden can be a good investment in money and health.

10.  Consider eliminating the purchase of some things altogether, such as bottled water and soft drinks, or packaged cookies. This will not only help your wallet but your waistline too!

Other good tips.

11.  Some people advise a cash only strategy for grocery shopping. But many no-fee credit cards give valuable rewards that can lower your grocery bills or help your budget in other ways. If you shop at the Real Canadian Super Store, your President’s Choice Financial MasterCard will give you points every time you use it. Those points, which add up quickly, can then be redeemed for “free” food. Other stores have similar programs; for example, Sobey’s and Safeway offer AirMiles. These programs cost nothing to join and they do pay off!

12.  Paper coupons used to be the way to shave money off a grocery bill. They still exist but the modern way uses a variety of websites and apps that give money off or provide rebates. An upcoming blog article will showcase these apps. Stay tuned!

Do you have other tips to save money on groceries? Let me know and I’ll post readers’ contributions in a future blog article or on social media. Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Give Twice with These Energy Efficient Gifts!

Wednesday, November 25th, 2015

Give Twice with These Energy Efficient Gifts! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamGift-giving season is nearly upon us in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region. Saving energy and helping the environment are good no matter what season it is. If you prefer giving gifts that are useful and practical, you’re sure to find something to please on this list of energy efficient gifts. And your gift will help the recipient to use less energy and save money too.

For the home improvement fanatic:

  • LED or CFL lights
    Bulbs, lamps, reading lights
  • Home energy monitor, such as the Kill-a-Watt monitor available from Amazon.ca
    Allows the user to track the amount of electricity being consumed by various devices.
  • Faucet aerators and low-flow showerheads
  • Programmable thermostat
  • Window insulating kit
  • Plugs for unused electrical outlets
    Did you know that up to 20% of air leakage from your home can occur through outlets?
  • Ceiling fans
    Keep your home warmer in winter, cooler in summer and help with humidity all year round.

For the home cook and bottle washer:

  • Pressure cooker
    This old-fashioned pot uses up to 70% less energy than traditional cooking and cooks food faster too.
  • Tea towels
    Who says everything has to be washed in the dishwasher!
  • Cold water laundry detergent
    Single-use packs make a good stocking stuffer gift.
  • Energy Star rated appliances of all kinds

For the device geek:

  • Power bar
    These come with all sorts of innovations, such as integrated timer, auto shutoff, and special sockets for charging mobile devices
  • Solar-powered cell phone and battery chargers
  • Solar backpack
    Looks like a regular student backpack but can charge electronic devices. (Check out this one called the SolarGoPack from Amazon.)

For the survival dude:

  • Battery powered radio in case of power outages
  • LED flashlight
    Or how about this hand-crank flashlight from Ikea?  Great gift for kids too.
  • Portable solar panel kit
    The GoalZero Guide 10 Adventure Kit allows you to charge all sorts of things, such as USB powered devices, phones, tablets, flashlight batteries, and emergency radios.

Do you have more ideas to add to this list? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Winter Energy Saving Tips for Your Spruce Grove Home

Tuesday, December 2nd, 2014

Winter Energy Saving Tips for Your Spruce Grove Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry Twynam

For most of us in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region, winter means a spike in our power and gas bills as we use more energy to heat and light our homes. Check out the tips below to save some money and help the planet.

 

Save Power

  • Install timers and power-saver cords for automobile block heaters and interior car heaters.
  • Adjust lighting timers as daylight hours decrease and then increase throughout the winter.
  • Incandescent light bulbs are being phased out this year. Replace them now with the newer more energy-efficient CFL and LED bulbs.
  • Yes, we need more light during the winter, but light up just the spaces you are using. Turn off the lights when you leave a room.
  • Run appliances at out-of-peak hours, such as late at night, and turn off everything when not in use.
  • Think low-tech solutions. For example, use a clothesline for drying some clothing items instead of your dryer. This has many advantages: saves power and money; better for many garments; adds moisture to your home.

Your Home Heating System

  • Get a qualified contractor to check the heating system to make sure it’s operating at optimum efficiency.
  • Check air supply vents and return air vents to make sure air is circulating freely. Keep furniture and appliances away from vents, and plan to have your furnace ducts professionally cleaned late in each summer.
  • Clean your furnace filter regularly – at least once per month – and replace every 3 months. Doing this can save you up to 5% on heating costs. Did you know you can install a special alarm on your furnace that will let you know when it is time to change your filter? These alarms will make a whistling sound when they sense that the filters are dirty.
  • Turn down the thermostat at night and during the day when you are away by up to 4 degrees C. Every 1 degree C. set back can save up to 2% in energy costs!
  • Keep that thermostat turned down a degree or two and bring out the sweaters and blankets.
  • Consider installing a programmable thermostat to make those set-backs automatic.
  • The new high-efficiency furnaces can save mega bucks! But if you’re not ready to replace your furnace, at least consider a tune-up which can save 3-10% on your heating bill.
  • Avoid heating uninsulated spaces such as the garage or cold storage room. Check doors leading to these spaces and replace with insulated doors if necessary.
  • Close doors and air supply registers in unused rooms.
  • Reverse your ceiling fans in winter to circulate warm air down.
  • Take advantage of whatever natural heat there may be by opening draperies during the day on south-facing windows and closing them at night.

Keep the Heat in Your Home

  • Have your home’s insulation assessed to determine if you need to add to it. Proper insulation will save money in heating costs during the winter and keep your home cooler in summer. DIY tip: Measure the thickness of your attic insulation. If there is less than R-22 (7 inches of fibreglass or rock wool or 6 inches of cellulose) you’ll benefit by adding more. Also, consider installing some roof vents and inlets to improve ventilation.
  • Look for dirty spots in your insulation. These may be signs of air leaks which can be repaired by stapling sheets of plastic over the holes and caulking the edge of the plastic.
  • Place clear plastic sheeting on your windows sometime in the fall to keep out the cold air and prevent warm air from escaping for very little cost. Use weather stripping on doors and windows and seals on exterior wall outlets. Put caulking on window and door frames, and seal around vents and cable or wire wall entries.
  • Did you replace your carpets with laminate and hardwood and now the floors are cold? Oops. Put down an area rug to add a little warmth and cut down on noise.
  • If you have a fireplace, make sure the damper is closed when the fireplace is not in use to prevent warm inside air from escaping up the chimney. Check the seal on the flue damper and make it good and tight. Tempered glass doors and a heat-air exchange system that blows warm air into the room will also help preserve the warmth.
  • Not exactly insulation, but something else to warm up your home. Moist air is warmer than dry air so add humidity to your home with portable humidifiers or an attachment to your heating system, as well as an aquarium and houseplants.
  • Keep the doors (interior and exterior) to your attached garage closed as much as possible. This keeps your garage warmer and also lets less cold air into the house.
  • If you have an unfinished basement, heat could be escaping along the joist cavities. Insulate the walls for major savings in money and comfort.
  • Even though window blinds and shutters are more fashionable at the moment, quilted curtains and insulated draperies keep your home warmer.
  • Plant some trees in your yard in the spring! Besides beautifying your yard, they’ll protect your home from winter wind and summer sun, as well as helping the environment by absorbing carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.

Want even more tips on this topic? Read my previous blog article “Winter Isn’t for Wimps!

Looking for a great energy-efficient home? Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Shop From Your Spruce Grove Home This Holiday Season!

Tuesday, November 25th, 2014

Shop From Your Spruce Grove Home This Holiday Season! | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamEdmonton, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Parkland County have some great shopping venues, as local residents know. From West Edmonton Mall’s vast array of stores that includes many world-class retailers to Whyte Avenue’s one-of-a-kind treasures to unique and interesting shops in Spruce Grove and Stony Plain, there is something for everyone. (Check out Spruce Grove and Stony Plain shops in my Community Connections Business Directory. Under Jump to Category, click on Shopping, Spruce Grove and Shopping, Stony Plain.)

During the holiday shopping season, though, with time short and weather unpredictable, wouldn’t it be nice to find an easier way than traveling from store to store?

Google “Canada online shopping” and you’ll discover that almost every brick and mortar store has an online presence from which you can order products. Which online stores will give you the best deal on the best quality merchandise and get it to you in a timely and low-cost manner? Once you get hooked on online shopping, you’ll soon learn the answer to this question through personal experience.

Instead of driving to the mall, hunting for a parking spot, being jostled by crowds and waiting in lineups, start by educating yourself about the policies of the online retailers you discover. You can expect that major retailers like Sears, The Bay, IKEA, Best Buy, the Apple store, Costco, Walmart, and the like will work hard to keep customers happy, but this should be true for lesser-known retailers too.

Some things to consider about online shopping:

  • Do the prices appear to be comparable to what you’d pay in a store? (Compare prices by reading The Best Price Comparison Sites in Canada from How to Save Money.ca.)
  • Even better, does the retailer offer special pricing deals to entice you to buy online? (For example, the Body Shop offers 50% off a wide variety of merchandise ordered online during the holiday shopping season, plus free shipping.)
  • Shipping costs can be a killer. Look for deals on shipping. Free is good! Mountain Equipment Co-Op, a wonderful place to buy anything connected to outdoor recreation, regularly offers free shipping during the holiday season when you purchase a certain dollar amount. Excellent service too with fast delivery and accuracy of orders. (Note that you do have to buy a $5 lifetime membership to purchase from them.)
  • When you order online, you want to know that the goods will arrive when you need them and when promised. Amazon Canada, with its enormous selection of goods, is very speedy in the fulfillment of orders. Staples offers next-day delivery.
  • Be sure to read through the returns policies of online retailers you’re considering doing business with. Sears Canada, for example, briefly considered instituting a re-stocking fee, but customers irate at that idea soon persuaded them to keep the current policy of free returns at catalogue sales offices.
  • An important consideration:  What security measures do companies have in place when you hand over your credit card number online? Most of us know to look for the “s” denoting a secure webpage after http in online addresses, but check out the retailer’s security and privacy policies also. Read the article Online Shopping from the Canadian Consumer Handbook for tips on how to protect yourself online.
  • Does the retailer participate in any kind of loyalty or cash-back program? For example, Sears allows you to earn AirMiles or get cash back through Ebates (see below).
  • Tip: Once you become a seasoned online shopper, you may want to shop internationally, but I suggest sticking with Canadian retailers you know to begin with.

Other good sources of information and deals:

  • A good article featuring reviews of some online retailers: Shop Online in Canada from the Huffington Post.  Look for the bonus article about online shopping scams.
  • Groupon:  Get your name added to their emailing list and get ready to save big bucks on all kinds of items, from goods like watches and bed sheets to 50% off restaurant meals to adventure experiences like a hot air balloon ride to vacation trips around the world.
  • AirMiles. If you are already a collector of Air Miles, you know that you can redeem those Air Miles, not just for trips and hotel rooms, but for a huge variety of goods and services that make great gifts.
  • Ebates. Shop at a variety of big-name online retailers, like Amazon, Sears, Walmart, the Bay and many others, and get real cash money back, sent to you by cheque. Heck of a deal!
  • Shop.ca is basically an online shopping mall where you can save money and earn Aeroplan Miles.
  • Beyond the Rack is an online only retailer handling mostly clothing, accessories and home décor items.
  • RedFlagDeals offers flyers, deals, coupons, lists of stores, etc.
  • At SmartCanucks.ca find coupons and all sorts of other deals.
  • Great Canadian Rebates:  As the name suggests, get rebates by shopping at the retailers listed through this website.

Also good to know: Many Canadian retailers present their own version of the US Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales following the American Thanksgiving which just happens to fall this week. Hard to escape the ads but easy to take advantage of the deals!

Got your own online shopping stories or secrets to share?  Please call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Budgeting Tips to Help You Save for Your First Home in Stony Plain

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Budgeting Tips to Help You Save for Your First Home in Stony Plain | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamNow is the perfect time to be looking for property in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region! Particularly in Spruce Grove real estate and Stony Plain real estate, the housing market is looking positive and there is a lot of inventory for first time homebuyers looking to get that perfect home in a small city. If you really want to take advantage of the Stony Plain real estate market right now and get the keys to your very first home, there are a few quick budgeting adjustments you can make that will get you into a house that you own. Here are a few great money-saving tips to help you save up that down payment.

Make Your Own Lunches

Many people don’t realize this, but you could free up a lot of your money by making your own lunches and at-work snacks at home rather than buying them during the workday. A ten dollar lunch and a five dollar a day coffee habit add up to $300 over the course of a month. Train yourself to make your lunch at home the night before and keep it in the fridge. You can also consider bringing leftovers to work for lunch. Bring lots of snacks for the morning and late afternoon so that you don’t feel the need to go out and buy more food. Once you get into the habit of making your own food, you’ll love how your savings steadily increase.

Make Small Trips Instead of Big, Expensive Ones

Travel is a big expense and one that people who are saving for a house usually cut. People are often slow to cut down on travel because they somehow get the idea that there is nowhere amazing to go near Stony Plain or Parkland County real estate. However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Use this time to explore smaller places near Parkland County acreages that are off the beaten trail. Athabasca and Wabamun are both within an hour from Stony Plain, and are great places to go camping if you’re the outdoor type. If you want something a bit more adventurous, try heading to Jasper for a night, or road tripping to Kelowna, where you can easily find a low-cost hostel for a few nights.

Track Your Expenses: There’s an App for That

One of the best ways to watch your budget is to track your expenses with a money management app. Mint is a great budget app and website that will let you manage all of your accounts and credit cards in one place. Mint is one of the web’s most popular personal finance tools, and it has many great features that you can use to stick to your budget. The app will send you weekly reminders of your goals and the progress you are making. Financial goals are always easier to meet when you pay close attention to them, and this website can help you do just that.

Now is a great time to buy a place in Stony Plain. Even if you think you’re not quite ready to buy a home, if you begin to budget you may notice that you’re actually not that far away. Starting a few healthy habits and tracking your progress is critical in meeting your financial goals.

For more great home buying advice, or for information on Edmonton real estate or Edmonton acreages, feel free to call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

5 Easy Ways to Cut Your Heating Bill This Winter

Friday, February 21st, 2014

5 Easy Ways to Cut Your Heating Bill This Winter | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamWhen it comes to the winter season in Alberta, some definite certainties are snow, ice, and freezing cold temperatures. But just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean it has to be cold inside. While the elements can make it more challenging to keep warm in a cost-effective way, there are things that homeowners in the Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County and the Edmonton region can do to lessen the amount they pay to heat their homes. Here’s a list of five easy ways for homeowners to cut their heating bills this winter.

Install a Programmable Thermostat

Homeowners with Spruce Grove real estate or Stony Plain real estate—or consumers interested in the region—can help to lessen their home heating bills by heading over to their nearest home improvement store and picking up programmable thermostats. Once the thermostat is installed, homeowners will be able to program the units to bring the temperature down a few notches when their homes are unoccupied or when people are sleeping. By keeping things nice and toasty only when homes are occupied, homeowners can take a little bit of the sting out of their next home heating bill.

Get a Furnace Tune-up

An annual furnace tune-up performed by a certified professional will keep furnaces working optimally. When furnaces are working properly and efficiently, the end result will be savings on the home heating front for homeowners with Parkland County real estate. Routine maintenance will also lower the odds of system failure at the worst possible time.

Remember Furnace Filter Maintenance

Homeowners with Edmonton acreages should, in addition to having their furnaces professionally serviced, be sure to either replace or clean their furnace filters as per the frequency recommended in manuals that came with their units. Failing to do this will compromise the efficiency of the equipment and lead to higher heating bills. Some filters can be cleaned and reused while others need to be thrown out and replaced. It’s up to homeowners to determine which type they have.

Insulate Against the Cold

Improperly insulated homes will cost more to keep warm, since furnaces will have to work harder to compensate. Whether independently or with the help of contractors, homeowners with Edmonton real estate should insulate any areas requiring insulation. Key areas where heat can escape homes include attics, walls, and crawl spaces. Once their homes have been properly insulated, homeowners will find not only that their residences are cozier, but also that their heating bills are lower than usual.

Seal the Leaks

Homeowners with Parkland County acreages would probably be surprised to learn how much cold air can enter their residences through cracks and gaps. Fortunately, they can pick up some sealant solutions sold at home improvement stores to seal out the cold air. Areas to watch out for include doorways, window frames, and duct work.

Just because it’s cold outside doesn’t mean that homeowners have to settle for chilly climates inside their homes. Following the aforementioned tips will help to keep homes warm and reduce heating bills.

I am always willing to answer any home-related questions you might have! Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Shedding a Different Light

Friday, January 3rd, 2014

Shedding a Different Light | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHow many incandescent light bulbs are in your home in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or the Edmonton area?  This isn’t an idle question, or the beginning of a dumb joke, although the ban on incandescent bulbs that went into effect in Canada on January 1, 2014 may seem like a bad joke to some.

In case you missed it, as of January 1, old-fashioned light bulbs in their 75- and 100-watt formats are history in Canada.  You can still buy them until the old stock runs out but no more will be manufactured.  By the end of 2014 the ban will be extended to include the 40- and 60-watt versions.

There are plenty of people who are unhappy about this.  They point out that the incandescent bulb provides a soft warm dimmable light that alternatives such as compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) and LEDs can’t match.  They also note that CFLs and especially LEDs are much more expensive to buy.  And CFLs, because they contain mercury, must be disposed of in special facilities, a fact that many people using them may not be aware of.  In addition, CFLs may not work in temperatures less than minus 10 degrees Celsius.  Their lifespan can be significantly reduced if they are turned on and off rapidly, and they have a rare but nasty habit of catching on fire or smoking.

So why the ban on incandescent bulbs?  It’s all about saving the environment.  “In Canada alone, the federal government estimates that CFLs can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by more than six million tonnes a year, or the equivalent of retiring 1.4 million vehicles. In Germany, the switch to energy-efficient bulbs will save the equivalent capacity of three nuclear reactors.”  (From an article in The Globe and Mail, Dec 27, 2012, entitled “The death of the incandescent light bulb”)

***Check out this great chart comparing the costs, energy efficiencies, environmental impact, advantages and disadvantages of incandescent bulbs vs. CFLs vs. LEDs. ***

More light facts:

  • Roughly 90% of the energy used to operate an incandescent bulb dissipates as heat rather than being used to provide light.  (Chicken farmers note that this is actually an advantage in the spring when they are raising baby chicks in a chilly chicken coop!)
  • The average life of an incandescent bulb is about 750 to 1000 hours, compared to 6,000 to 15,000 hours for a CFL (“Incandescent light bulb ban starts Jan. 1”)
  • Cost to buy:  incandescent bulbs 60 to 80 cents apiece; halogen bulbs around $2 each; CFLs $2.50 to $4; LEDs about $20 per bulb.  (The possibility exists that prices for the newer bulbs, especially LEDs, will decrease once incandescent bulbs are no longer being manufactured.)
  • Some incandescent bulbs will be exempt from the ban.  These include lights such as those in ovens and refrigerators that can’t be replaced with alternatives.
  • Manufacturers are working on improving the quality of the light in energy-efficient  bulbs.  “Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are the next big thing; global lighting company Osram Sylvania, for one, believes it has a winner with its “Ultra LED,” an omnidirectional mercury-free bulb that aims to give all the warmth of a 100-watt incandescent bulb while using just 20 watts of electricity.”  (“The death of the incandescent light bulb”, The Globe and Mail)

Maybe you’ve already made a trip to your local hardware store to buy up remaining stocks of incandescent bulbs, or maybe you’ve decided to give in to the inevitable.  At least we can still buy candles if we want soft warm light with a bit of heat!

What do you think of the ban on incandescent bulbs?  Have you already replaced all your bulbs with the energy-efficient ones?  Your comments and questions are always welcome.  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

Be Green, Save Gold on Water

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

Be Green, Save Gold on Water | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamAre you a water hog or a water miser?  Chances are, if you’re like most Canadians, whether you live in Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or elsewhere, you use more water than you should.  This excessive water use costs us as homeowners, in higher water bills, and as citizens, putting a strain on infrastructure and resources.

 Stemming the flow of H2O”, an article in the March 3, 2012 issue of the Edmonton Journal and written by Patrick Langston of the Ottawa Citizen, contains some startling statistics about water use.  For instance, the article states that Canadians on average use 340 litres of water per person per day, the 2nd highest amount in the world.

Other facts quoted in the article:

  • Roughly 65% of indoor water use occurs in the bathroom.
  • One drop per second from a leaky faucet can waste about 10,000 litres of water in a year.  A toilet that keeps running after it’s flushed can waste up to 200,000 litres per year (enough to fill 2 swimming pools!)
  • Standard shower heads release 15 to 20 litres of water per minute.  A low-flow model cuts that amount in half.  
  • A standard 18-litre-per-flush toilet, flushed 4 times per day, uses close to 30,000 litres per year.  Think of how much water (and money!) can be saved by replacing one standard toilet with a low-flow model that uses 6 litres or less per flush.
  • It takes about 265 litres to fill a standard bathtub, more (sometimes much more) for a soaker tub.
  • Most front-loading washing machines use about 75 litres per load, about half that of top loaders.
  • Think you’re saving money and water if you hand wash your dishes?  Hand washing uses about 75 litres, while an Energy Star dishwasher takes about 15 litres per load.

Tips and information abound in this useful article. Some of these things we’ve heard before, like not leaving the tap running when you brush your teeth or wash your hands.  Other tips may be new, such as installing a thermostatic valve in the shower so that the shower can be shut off while lathering without having to re-set the water temperature when the tap is turned back on. 

The article concludes with conservation tips borrowed from the website WaterUseItWisely.com.  This excellent website offers over 100 ways to conserve water, such as:

  • When washing dishes by hand, don’t let the water run while rinsing.  Fill one sink with wash water and the other with rinse water.
  • Wash vegetables in a bowl of water instead of under a running tap.  Then use the vegetable water to water houseplants.
  • Keep a bottle of water in the refrigerator instead of running the tap.
  • When doing laundry, match the water level to the size of the load.  Better yet, aim to run your machine only for full loads.
  • Install an instant water heater near your kitchen sink so you don’t have to run the water while it heats up.

Read the article  and check out WaterUseItWisely.com for much more information.  Whether the tips you’ll find there are new or old, we all can stand to be reminded of ways we can help the planet and our wallets!

I would be happy to help you find an energy-efficient home!  Call or text me at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

 

 

Save Energy and Money in Your Home

Wednesday, February 8th, 2012

Save Energy and Money in Your Home | Spruce Grove Stony Plain Parkland County Real Estate | Barry TwynamHow energy-efficient is your Spruce Grove, Stony Plain, Parkland County or Edmonton area home?  Chances are that no matter how well your home is doing, there’s still room for improvement, and that’s true even if you’ve taken advantage of government programs and grants to upgrade such things as the insulation, windows, heating system and the like in your home.

“Make your home an energy fortress”, published January 28, 2012 in the Edmonton Journal asks:  “where exactly should you invest when it comes to ramping up your home’s energy efficiency?”

The article quotes Christopher Straka from Ottawa’s Vert Design, a firm that deals with residential and commercial planning, design and development:   “Every home has its own energy strengths and weaknesses … based on age, construction and other factors. Only an energy audit, which you’ll need to tap into federal grant programs for upgrades, can pinpoint your individual energy issues.  … your best bet is still tightening up the building’s envelope: caulking and weather stripping to reduce leakage, more insulation, and better windows and doors.”

Many of the other things we can do, the article’s author, Patrick Langston, tells us, have an initial cost, but this may be offset somewhat by government grants, and will pay off the longer we remain in our homes.  Don’t forget also that each of these improvements will increase the resale value and saleability of your home.  While it will cost about $1 per square foot of attic to upgrade insulation and plug air leaks, doing so can save $400+ per year.  Spend $3000 to $6000 on a new high-efficiency furnace, and expect to save $500+ annually in heating costs.  Switch to a tankless hot water heater at a cost of about $3000, and save $150 per year.  Read the whole article for other upgrades that will save energy and money.

Planning to retrofit your home or buy a resale home?  Check out fact sheets available at the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website that recommend upgrades for 11 housing types in 5 regions of Canada.

Also included in the article are notes on exciting new technologies that promise to do even more for the energy misers among us.  The article concludes with a reminder about the many gadgets most of us can’t live without that gobble up energy, and suggests ways we can reduce our dependence on these energy thieves.  Check out the full article.

Looking for a new more energy-efficient home?  Give me a call at 780-910-9669, email me at barry@barryt.ca, or contact me here.

Barry Twynam, Realty Executives Leading
#1 14 McLeod Avenue, Spruce Grove, Alberta, T7X 3X3
Tel: 780-962-9696 Cell: 780-910-9669 Fax: 780-962-9699
© Copyright 2011, Real Estate Websites by Redman Technologies Inc. | Privacy Policy | Sitemap
The data included on this website is deemed to be reliable, but is not guaranteed to be accurate by the REALTORS® Association of Edmonton
MLS® MLS REALTOR® Realtor
Trademarks used under license from CREA