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PowerSmart Month: Week 1 – Cubes & Candlelight

Tuesday, October 5th, 2010 — 3:18pm PDT
Comments 154

October is PowerSmart Month and I have partnered with BC Hydro over the next few weeks to bring you contests, rebate offers from local retailers, energy-saving tips, event info, as well as one giant grand prize that I’ll announce in a day or so.

PowerSmart Month

To kick things off, the PowerSmart Cubes were revealed today at Georgia and Granville. These two living spaces are housing two actors for the next four days. One will do their best to save energy while the other will be a power hog. Through simple everyday actions you’ll be able to see their power usage meters rise as they use appliances and electronics in the cubes.

PowerSmart Month

Stop by the cubes between 6:00am and 10:00pm daily to see how energy is being used. While you’re there, Tweet a PowerSmart tip you see in action using the tag #psCube on Twitter and you’ll be entered to win a daily prize. The cubes will be on the corner until Friday, October 8th. Follow @PowerSmartBC on Twitter for daily contest updates.

PowerSmart Month PowerSmart Month

PowerSmart Month PowerSmart Month

PowerSmart Deal of the Week
Save on an Energy Star Panasonic 32″ LCD TV at London Drugs.

PowerSmart Tip of the Week
With the chilly Fall air moving in this month you’ll want to draft-proof your home instead of cranking up the heat. Seal up cracks along windows and doors with caulking and weather-stripping or one of those cute stuffed weiner dog Draft Dodgers to reduce heat loss. As you can see in the Cube photo above, wearing a Snuggie or an extra layer is a good alternative to turning up the heat in your home.

Contest of the Week
October 21st is the Candlelight Conservation Dinner that will see dozens of restaurants around town doing their dinner service with the lights out.

I have two $100 gift cards for Chambar (a Candlelight Conservation Dinner participating restaurant) that I will give away to two readers. Leave a comment with a PowerSmart tip below to enter to win. This could be unplugging your cell phone charger when it’s not in use or taking shorter showers.

Candle Light
Photo credit: ananyahcom on Flickr

I will draw two winners (who will each get one $100 gift card) on Monday October 11th at 11:00am. Winners will then be able to make reservations for the Candlelight Dinner October 21st.

Update The winners are Virginia and Maria — have a great dinner at Chambar!

Current contests on


  1. Jeremy says:

    Switch to cold when doing your laundry. 85 รขโ‚ฌโ€œ 90% of the energy used to wash your clothes is used to heat the water.

  2. Ken Gardner says:

    Turning the T.V. off whenever the Calgary Flames/Stampeders are playing to save energy.

  3. Jen says:

    Turning down your hot water heater or change it to an on-demand heater!

  4. Alyson says:

    Put on a sweater or a hoodie instead of turning up the heat

  5. AJ says:

    Buy energy star appliances and hang dry clothes instead of using the dryer ๐Ÿ™‚

  6. Heather B says:

    Two tips: Use cold water for laundry; heating water takes a lot of energy
    Use toaster oven when possible it is a much smaller area to heat then the regular oven.

  7. Cameron says:

    Cuddle with 2, 3 or even 4 people in bed so you can turn down the thermostat. Same for showers.

  8. Steph says:

    Do laundry at night when there is less strain on the power system, and (to add to the ‘look for cracks tip of the week’)if you have an unfinished basement or crawlspace, check for leaks by looking for spider webs. If there is a web, there is a draft.

  9. Ariane C says:

    It’s a pretty basic tip yet one that many people forget to do: turn off lights in any room(s) you’re not in.

  10. Alex says:

    It sounds silly but turning off lights in rooms you are not in helps a lot and is often overlooked. The same goes for appliances not in use, turn them off at the wall.

  11. Sunny says:

    When shopping for food, reduce the amount of packaging. This means reducing the amount of total waste that is generated. There are many ways of doing this: bringing reuseable bags when you shop, do not buy products packaged in styrofoam & choosing packaging that you can recycle easily.

  12. Shawn says:

    I power off my PC when I am not using it. Having it on everyday uses to much power. Hope to win.

  13. Lynda says:

    Not only switch off lights when not in use, but change all lightbulbs to energy efficient bulbs.

  14. Chris says:

    Install ceiling fans. They are fantastic; they cool the air in the summer and circulate warm air in the winter.

  15. Lisa says:

    Use the smallest appliance possible to cook meals. A toaster oven uses way less power than your oven.

  16. Make your next computer a laptop or, better yet, a netbook instead of another power-hungry desktop computer. Maybe it’s finally time to replace that volt-sucking monstrosity that uglies up your living room now?

  17. tracey says:

    Plug your home electronic equipment like TVs, DVD players, game consoles, etc into power strips and then turn off the power strips when you’re not using the equipment. Apparently electronic equipment will still use several watts of power even in standby mode!

  18. Tricia says:

    Turn off your monitor! Don’t let it sit powered on or in screensaver mode, even if your computer is off!

  19. GLC says:

    Get rid of your cordless phone. A regular phone uses no electricity, works in a power outage, and tends to be more durable overall.

  20. Jessica says:

    Our biggest and simplest power tip: Only have a light on in the room you are in where you are sitting/working/eating.

  21. tracy says:

    i think it’s very important to educate young children about power conservation. if children learn at a young age to turn off lights when no one’s in the room or to take shorter showers it will become a habit. and then they will not have to make dramatic lifestyle changes when they grow up.

  22. AC says:

    I use cold water for laundry and use an indoor clothesline to dry my clothes. I only use the dryer when absolutely necessary.

  23. lisa says:

    umm dont leave cellphone chargin over night

  24. shelly says:

    On those cold winter days, fill your home with the warmth of the sun’s rays by raising the blinds and shades on windows on the south and west sides of your house.

  25. Jeff says:

    Switch off electronics when not using them!

  26. ApollineR says:

    When you do renovations, take the opportunity to improve your insulation

  27. Anne says:

    At work, shut down your computer and power off your monitor.

  28. Tyler says:

    Unplug any electronics not in use – Even if they are ‘off’ most are on “standby” and still draw a trickle of current.

  29. Ray says:

    To conserve energy, use motion sensors in the hallways.

  30. Ami says:

    Use compact fluorescent light bulbs instead of traditional/regular light bulbs. Not only do they use less energy than regular light bulbs, they can also last longer! ๐Ÿ™‚

  31. Alyson says:

    A small fan right by your bed instead of a huge air conditioner.

  32. Chris says:

    Use LED lighting instead of incandescent lighting.

  33. lori says:

    Install some sort of clothesline outside – and in! – and hang your laundry to dry.

  34. Richard W says:

    I am writing this comment in a hoodie and flannels instead of cranking the heat.

  35. Jason says:

    Unplug electronics when they aren’t in use.

  36. Gisele says:

    Install a programmable thermostat and set it to go down when you’re in bed or not home.

  37. Ed says:

    Use weatherstripping on doors to keep the heat in your home. It’ll keep heating costs down.

  38. Veronica says:

    Cuddling for warmth is always one of my favourites!

  39. Ian Yeung says:

    Sleep earlier. It’s that simple

  40. Grace Mok says:

    We have timers as to when to turn on the heater. So usually the heater turns on during the weekdays and off during the weekends

  41. Steven says:

    Wear sweaters or jackets instead of cranking up the heater

  42. Kevin says:

    Use a clothes hanger/line instead of the dryer!

  43. Shawn S says:

    Cannot believe so many cars on the street with only one passenger- the driver himself or herself.. it’s time to leave the cars at home and take public transit!

  44. Jon Jennings says:

    Turn off the tap when you’re brushing your teeth. Don’t need all that water going straight down the drain.

  45. Teresa K says:

    Wear something warm instead of turning up the heat.

  46. lindawwww says:

    Turn your computer off overnight to save energy

  47. Rachel says:

    Pile on some extra blankets instead of turning up the heat

  48. Christine says:

    Turn off and unplug all appliances when you’re not using them!

  49. Tiffany says:

    Remember those press-on lights that was a HUGE deal on TV? Yah those are awesome to put in the hallway and click on, instead of turning on the hallway light AND bathroom light for a mid-night bathroom break.

  50. Rob says:

    Buy cold water detergent and wash in cold water, hang dry. Clean clothes that haven’t shrunk! Power smart!

  51. michelle brown says:

    Make sure all KIDS appliances are switched off reg..also bathrooms ect..
    use candles as much as possible to save on lights!

    wash in cold water use energy saving mode for dryer or hang!!

    power smart light bulbs..!!

  52. LB says:

    skip the dryer and hang your clothes to dry – saves energy and your clothes.

  53. Ross says:

    With so many electronics on my desk at work, I’ve taken to using a power bar to ensure they are all turned off at nite. this keeps the little vampires ( chargers, etc) from sucking power all night.

    one switch in the am and we’re all back in business! easy!

  54. virginia says:

    Unplug laptop once fully charged.

  55. mike says:

    Lower the blinds to keep the house cool in the summer if using air-con.

  56. evanna says:

    Check for air leaks around window and door frames. Saves on heating/cooling costs.

  57. Ranelle says:

    Turn the lights off when we are not in the room, use cold water for laundry.

  58. Christina says:

    This is my fave since I am gearing up for winter cooking:
    When possible, use small appliances such as an electric fry pan with lid, crock-pot, toaster oven, or microwave instead of the full-sized range or wall oven.

  59. Eva Menzies says:

    When Your oven is in use, try and cook all of Your meal in the oven, roast the potatoes and vegetables at the same time as your doing the meat in the oven, and after your dinner is cooked, leave oven open so the heat warms up your kitchen.:)

  60. Crystal says:

    Turn off power bars!Don’t leave lights on in the house when you are gone, it doesn’t really fool a theft anymore. Turn off your computer monitors at work when you are away from the desk.

  61. donna says:

    For many years I have enjoyed making a large meal on Sunday such as roast beef or chicken, meatloaf or roasted vegtables. Throughout the week I create a wonderful menu from the leftovers such as potato salad, roasted vegtable sald and cold roast beef/chicken bunwhiches. Simple food that can be extended over 3 – 4 days really cuts down on oven/stove time. Leftover homemade soup can be reheated in the microwave in seconds.

  62. mike t says:

    use cold water instead of warm water to wash your clothes

  63. connie says:

    keep a lower temperature on your heater thermostat when leaving the house.

  64. Parker says:

    line dry your luandry – even if you live in an apartment!

  65. Jodi says:

    save energy by air drying your clothes.

  66. Sanaz says:

    Shut your blinds to prevent heat from escaping through your windows.

  67. Becky says:

    Walk on the sea wall instead of on a tredmill (which uses power so a person can run in one spot.) Never made sense to me!

  68. Masey says:

    One that always irritates me when I see others doing it – turn off the tap when you brush your teeth. You don’t need the tap running. There’s no need for it – you are simply wasting precious water supplies!

  69. Jenn says:

    Use cold water for laundry!

  70. JL says:

    Bike to work! I’ve started doing that and it’s great exercise too.

  71. Kelly says:

    Pulling back your window curtains during the day to let in natural light, then drawing them closed when the sun goes down to keep the warmth in helps save on your heating bill!

  72. Brenda says:

    Turn off all the lights in the meeting rooms at work when no one is using them.

  73. Cliff says:

    Open the windows and use screens instead of the air conditioner.

  74. Linda says:

    Change out incandescent lighting with Compact Fluorescent Lighting (CFLs)because they use 75% less energy. Especially good for areas that are hard to get at because CFLs also last up to 10 times longer so you don’t have to change them as often.

  75. Katie says:

    Don’t flush every time you pee. It is really not necessary especially if it is dilute urine ๐Ÿ™‚

  76. Marianne says:

    Take 5 minute showers each day, to reduce showerhead flow.

  77. Cody Watson says:

    Use proper light-diffusing lamp shades on lamps so that you need fewer lights on. Take advantage of smaller lights (e.g. stove hood) relevant to selected tasks when you can.

  78. Tracy says:

    Install automatic thermostats that will lower the temperature when you’re out of the house and raise it again just before you come home.

  79. Ben says:

    Use a ceiling fan instead of a/c

  80. Robin says:

    Thaw food overnight in the fridge. You don’t use the energy of the microwave and the cold food contributes to cooling your fridge, reducing the amount of energy needed to maintain the fridge temperature. =)

  81. Liz says:

    Don’t turn the heat up when it gets colder – wear more layers, get a fleece blanket, or snuggle up to someone ๐Ÿ™‚

  82. Marina says:

    Take up knitting and make slippers, sweaters and blankets to use instead of turning the heat up!

  83. Mark says:

    Don’t leave things like cellphone/ipod chargers plugged in when you aren’t using them, and set up your toilet bowl so that it uses less water per flush.

  84. Alv says:

    Heating is one of the biggest energy draws in a house. Start there and turn it down.

  85. Natalie says:

    My Powersmart tip comes from my mom who spend years telling me to “Close the refrigerator door!” ๐Ÿ˜€

    If you adjust the mounts at the bottom-front of the fridge so that they are a bit higher than the back, the natural back tilt will use gravity to close the door for you!

  86. Zoe says:

    It almost sounds counterintuitive but spending some time and money ensuring that you have good insulation in your place will save $$$ and so much energy in the long run.

    If you have single glazing or drafty windows you can get stick on sheets that act as an extra layer of insulation – good for renters (or poor students!).

  87. Claudine says:

    Remove your cordless phone from it’s charging base when you done charging it so it won’t continuously waste unnecessary power

  88. Yvonne says:

    Switch to energy saving lightbulbs, and your showerhead to use less water. Brush your teeth in the shower/turn off the tap while brushing your teeth!

  89. Mike says:

    Switch all your incandescent lightbulbs to CFLs, put on a sweater instead of turning up the heat, and unplug phone chargers when not in use.

  90. Marilyn says:

    Unplug all your electronics when you go out of town. Including the tv, coffee maker, microwave and alam clocks. They all use power to illuminate those little lights and digital numbers. No need to waste all that power if there is no one there!

  91. Sean Orr says:

    Get a huge russian hat like George Constanza did in Seinfeld. Charge it to Peterman’s account. I can haz a Chambar?

  92. Chris says:

    Turn down the heat, and buy a Snuggie!

  93. Sophia says:

    When it’s still bright outside, open all your blinds instead of turning on a light!

  94. Kym says:

    turn off lights around the house that you are not using as well as unplugging things that aren’t being used (ex. laptop charger)

  95. Diane says:

    Either open the windows to freshen the house OR turn on the heater to heat the house, never both at the same time.

  96. Veronica says:

    Pull out cell phone charger from power plug/bar when not in use.

  97. Jen says:

    I can’t believe nobody’s suggested “shower with a friend” to save on hot water use!

    Of course, that depends on actually being efficient in the shower with your friend, and not spending 2x the time under the hot water ๐Ÿ˜‰

  98. sue says:

    switch to red wine no need for a fridge,drink all spirits neat ditto on the ice ๐Ÿ˜‰

  99. Stella says:

    Turn off your monitor at the end of the day

  100. Yasmin says:

    Wait until your food is cold before putting in the fridge… save that energy!

  101. Alice says:

    Wear warmer pajamas or use a heavier/warmer blanke when you sleep so you can save on heating costs.

  102. I always shut down the computer as opposed to sleeping it overnight, wear a sweater before I turn up the heat (and I turn down the heat at night). If I’m not in a room, the lights are off.

  103. Mary says:

    open your curtains for some daylight rather than turning on your lights

  104. Sean says:

    Unplug electronics when not in use

  105. Betty says:

    Unplug it if you’re not using it, including all those chargers that are oh so easy to leave plugged in for convenience!

  106. Alex Cameron says:

    If turning off you’re computer isn’t an option (often the case with many offices) try using Edison ( to monitor your power usage and try to reduce it as much as possible.

  107. Ashley says:

    Make “Earth Hour” more than an annual event. Plan one candle light dinner a month, making sure to turn-off/unplug all the electrical appliances in the house.

  108. Candice says:

    Unplug your water fountains for cats people!
    Keep your dishes clean and filtered- unplug those suckers!

  109. Phyllis says:

    Turn off the lights whenever you leave a room.

  110. Gail Kargut says:

    Shower with a partner to save hot water!

  111. Emma says:

    Use power bars for things that drain energy even when they’re not on — and turn them off when you’re not using them!

  112. Janet says:

    When sitting in front of the computer, turn on the sleep mode, so it’s less of a power drain when you’re not using it. Windows users can do this via the control panel and Mac users can find energy saving settings under system preferences in the apple menu.

  113. Vivian says:

    Open all your curtains and blinds during the day! It’s amazing how much natural light can do for you at home.

  114. Hubert says:

    I unplug anything that is not in use.

  115. lindsay says:

    Hang clothes to dry! I actually just received some pegs from BC Hydro for being power smart ๐Ÿ˜‰

  116. Lyndsey says:

    This time of year, when there is a chill in the air- instead of cranking the heat: I bundle up in my coziest hoodie, my favorite leg warmers and fluffy slippers and curl up on the couch under a blankey.

    It’s also cozier to curl up by candlelight…so shut off the lights in and around your home, when you aren’t directly using them!!

  117. Tiffany R W says:

    pull out the plug even if the device is off

  118. maria says:

    hand wash dishes, cold water for clothes-try to do bigger loads, hang dry

  119. angela says:

    I use low watt lightbulbs.

  120. Bob says:

    Turn off your computer when you aren’t using it. If you can’t turn it off, at least let the monitor go to sleep.

  121. Tracey Flattes says:

    When brushing your teeth, turn off the tap rather than let it run!

  122. Leanna says:

    Get rid of vampire energy drain but putting appliances and audio equipment on powerbars for easy power off when not in use. The amount of energy these things use when they are not even on is quite surprising.

  123. Don says:

    Install energy saving tri-lights and leave them on low unless you really need some more light.

  124. Ursula says:

    Consider putting in more energy-efficient windows when renovating.

  125. Tracy says:

    hang dry clothes instead of using the dryer

  126. Michelle Williamson says:

    Have friends over to wacth the Canucks games, so you can all watch 1 TV instead of 3 or 4. Make sure they take transit, walk or ride to your place though, so they’re not using more energy to get there.

  127. Jeff says:

    Air-dry dishes in the dishwasher or use the economy setting.

  128. Jewels says:

    turn off the lights when you leave a room or leave your home.

  129. Sioned says:

    I use cold water detergent to wash my clothes and then air dry them on a clothes rack.

  130. Marc says:

    When installed energy star high efficiency washer/dryer units in my condo.

  131. A.J. says:

    I turn off lights in rooms that aren’t in use. Wash my clothes in cold water. Hang my clothes to dry.

  132. LaurenceB says:

    an easy one nobody suggested yet: put a lid on your pot when heating water, and if you’re cooking pasta, you can stop electric heating 3 minutes before they are cooked.

  133. Chista says:

    switch light bulbs to energy efficient bulbs!

  134. Colin says:

    switch all your appliances to use a sleep mode, i.e. computer, tv, printer,fax, stereo, etc., so that they will use less energy when not being used after a period of time…. Also, don’t sleep naked!! hahaha… use pajamas and blankets for warmth not a heater

  135. Dee says:

    Use energy efficient bulbs, wash your clothes in cold water, avoid or limit meat in your diet, turn the lights off when you’re not home and use ceiling fans instead of AC.

  136. Sherry says:

    I do almost all my laundry in cold water now.

  137. Sharon says:

    I hang my clothes to dry. They don’t wrinkle and it saves power.

  138. Dilara says:

    I try to hang my clothes to dry whenever I can. When I do use the dryer, I throw in a dry towel with the load to help dry it faster.

  139. Cindy says:

    Like many of those who commented, I too hang dry my laundry as much as possible and use cold water. Instead of turning on the lights, we light candles to watch t.v. or eat our meals. Gives the room a nice ambiance.

  140. Elaina says:

    Wash all your clothes in cold water and make sure to empty the lint filter in the dryer after each use to improve efficiency!

  141. Helen says:

    Reconsider buying yet another electronic device you probably don’t really need.

  142. Derek C says:

    Gonna post some less conventional, yet just as obvious tips.

    – Buy things with the future in mind! You know, people used to buy stuff for their homes/themselves *with the intention of passing it down multiple generations*? Less garbage, less industrial waste producing hack products… less is more!

    – Walk more often! You can get away with it in Vancouver. Cars are for crazy sprawled cities like Calgary =P

    – Don’t drive like a maniac. It’ll save you gas. Chill at 50 – 60kmh, no fast turns, sudden brakes or accelerations and you’ll do fine.

  143. Fawn Mulcahy says:

    Wear a sweater!

  144. Kevin says:

    Use power smart efficient light bulbs! A little bit more pricey but lasts longer and saves electricity over time!

  145. Janet says:

    Hang your washed clothes on a clothes rack instead of drying them in the dryer. Always comes out smelling nice and fresh!

  146. Shannon says:

    In my house we try to use cold for washing and hangdry most of our items.

  147. Cold wash cycles, energy efficient machines and LED christmas lights.

  148. fmc says:

    Unplug all the appliances when you are away traveling. Although they might not be turned on just by being plugged in they are still using the energy.

  149. paulo says:

    try ‘raw food’ recipes two nights a week and save 25-30% of your cooking energy while exploring healthier eating options

  150. Janice says:

    Use cold water as much as you can.

  151. Leah says:

    We keep our toaster and other small kitchen appliances unplugged when we’re not using them, live in a small (650sf.) apartment which consumes little energy because of the heat we get from the suites around us, and purchase used items (furniture, kitchen items) when we can to save the energy used to create them and reduce waste. Oh, and also hang dry our cloths on a rack inside our apartment – which is harder when it’s pouring rain outside, than during the past few hot, dry months.

  152. Josip says:

    Unplug all electronics when you go on vacation.

  153. Rico says:

    – switch all electric devices off, instead of putting in standby, when not in use
    – switch lights off when leaving a room
    – use energy efficient light bulbs
    – close that fridge door

  154. Hannah Lee says:

    In order to save water, shower with a friend and keep it under 5 minutes!

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