Saving Energy in Ye Olde House

You may or may not know, I live in an old house. We are the second owners of this sweet little bungalow in Calgary and the previous owners built it when Jesus was a Cowboy nearby main thoroughfares were just dirt roads. And they never renovated. Wait, scratch that, they covered up gorgeous hardwood floors with WHITE carpet that I removed shortly after my kids turned it the colour of gross we moved in.

But we have a rule in this house: thou shalt not renovate until thou hast 20% equity built up into thine house. (Except when things break… which is a whole other post for another day!)

The problem is … I hate spending money on things I barely notice I’m using, aka the utilities … (aka the things I’d very likely notice if they were gone!)

So here I sit with a stove, oven, and fridge that are 48 years old. And no, that’s not a combined age.

Yeah, I know you’re jealous.



I mean LOOK AT THAT FRIDGE … I don’t want to estimate the kilowatt-hours that baby uses … but here’s the deal: Those cupboards are a custom size and I can’t seem to find a fridge that will fit in this space without moving cabinets around. So it stays. For now….

So what I do is try to save money everywhere else in my house. Maybe you’re familiar with some of these ways to conserve energy because maybe you’re also cheap living in an older home.

vent covers

– Use natural light sources rather than turning on the lights, we’re blessed with big front windows that look out on some huge pine trees that offer a little privacy and shade. As we plan renovations, we’re also looking at windows that do double-duty: conserve heat in the winter and block heat (and UV rays) in the summer. They aren’t cheap, but they will go a long way to make this home more eco-friendly. 

– Open and close your blinds strategically to keep the heat at bay in the summer – as soon as the sun hits a specific part of our yard, I shut the blinds on our big picture windows and open the back windows to allow for air flow. We’ve survived 6 years without AC and really, in Canada when we’d probably only use it 3/12 months … it’s just an energy suck we can do without. (I say that now, when it’s -15C and icicles are hanging off the eavestroughs … ask me in mid-July when it’s 40C!) It’s a bit like a chess match with the sun, but it matters to us because we don’t have AC. However, I see a lot of people who DO have AC who don’t bother to do this and it’s because their AC just works that much harder to keep the house cool. 

– Block off vents that you aren’t using to heat other rooms. We keep our bedrooms cool and the rest of the house warm with vent covers to direct the heat to where we are actually hanging out. And because they are magnetic, you can put them on those ceiling vents, too. Or maybe they stopped putting those in homes in the 80’s … hmmmm … But at the same time, make sure rugs and furniture aren’t covering the vents in the rooms you WANT it to get warmer in and prevent the thermostat-creep of “it should be warmer in here”… followed by the “whoa, way to warm” stage.

– Do your furnace a solid and change the filters regularly … It needs clean filters to keep doing it’s job and it’s very easy to do. If you can’t remember, Direct Energy has a thermostat (with an app) that will remind you to do it. Or change it when you change your smoke detector batteries as you change your clocks each year. 

Direct Energy has a few ideas for saving money on your utilities – and now they offer the Direct Energy Comfort & Control Plan, which is a 5-year dual fuel plan that includes a fixed rate for your Alberta electricity (which won’t change for 5 years, unlike my fridge, which is going to change shortly … ) and flex-through Alberta natural gas with the security of a winter cap … plus you get a Direct Energy Smart Thermostat at no charge.  

I was just checking out the Nest Learning Thermostat and it’s pretty neat. Smart. Programmable. Accessible with wifi. Instead of fighting over the temperature when you and your loved one are at home … you can do it from your smart phones. (Kidding!) No one needs to heat a house that is empty for 12 hours, and so often we do. I’m seriously considering getting one.

Thank you to Direct Energy for sponsoring today’s post, and encouraging me to share tips for a smarter home! Click HERE (if you live in Alberta) for 10 Tips for a Smart Home, and if you have any to add (or a deal on a fridge for sale…) leave a comment for me below!!

If you happen to live in the US, click here!


  1. encourage your children in math. the algorithm for those thermostats (or some with similar technology) so to google for either 3 or 6 billion dollars recently. i want one too.

  2. Great tips! We moved into an old house and have to replace all the windows, because when the wind blows you can feel it blow right through the house!

  3. We have a newer house but still we need some upgrades to tiny things like the thermostat is still one that’s old which is odd. They should be mandated to put the new energy efficient ones in all homes, don’t you think? LOL at the fridge comment/. I totally get this – the fridge depends so much on the size of the cupboard and the room etc. Sometimes you are limited in what you can get.

  4. I bought those vent covers for our other house. They’re so useful, I have been meaning to get more for the new home.

  5. Great tips! We use those magnetic vent covers and they make a really big difference in our house. Love that they force that heat into the parts that you use. We desperately need to do some renovations to update our home to be more energy efficient.

  6. MJ @ The Flying Couponer says:

    Really good tips! We also lock off vents that we are not using.

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