Sticker shock is something we all experience. Whether it’s the tab at a restaurant or the repair bill from an auto mechanic, we’ve felt the impact of an expenditure that turned out to be much higher than we expected.

One of the most notorious offenders in this area is the electric bill. The unpredictability of what is waiting inside that envelope can end as either relief or panic. To improve the chances that you’ll end up on the relief side, follow these simple tips for cutting your electrical costs.

Shop Around for Rates

You shouldn’t buy a car at the first dealership you visit, so why should you buy electricity from the first source you find? In a deregulated market, the consumer has the power to choose. You will find that Alberta power companies offer a wide range of prices.

Choosing the best one can require a little research, but when you consider the number of years it will impact your power bill, you will quickly see that it is well worth your efforts.

Upgrade Your Light Bulbs

The light bulb was a revolutionary invention when it first came along. In many ways, Edison’s creation has hardly changed since he first put power to a filament. In fact, most of the incandescent bulbs on the market are very similar to the original models.

There are better choices on the market today. LED and CFL bulbs provide longer service, brighter light, and lower energy consumption than their predecessors. Their higher price scares some customers away, but they easily pay for themselves in energy savings and lower replacement costs.

Promote Efficient Operation

Sometimes our most energy-efficient appliances can’t provide peak performance because we don’t manage them properly. Heat pumps and furnaces are a perfect example.

The enemy of air movement in these systems is obstructions, so whether it’s thick evergreens near an outdoor heat pump or simply an accumulation of dust in filters and ducts, think about some cleanup and other changes that will allow your systems to breathe freely.

Weatherproof Outside the Box

We have all heard plenty of advice to check for drafts in our homes. Gaps around windows and doors top these lists, but you still won’t capture every opening if those are the only areas you check.

Think of the unusual areas. Anywhere that you have things passing through the wall is a potential leak zone, so examine dryer vents, openings for utilities, and garage door gaskets. seal them tightly with caulk or other suitable materials. Inspect insulation in your attic and crawlspace to make sure that nothing has been pushed out of place or damaged.

Use Free Heat

In Canada, we’re always looking for a little extra heat in the house. Yet it’s easy to overlook some obvious sources that help us capture some warmth that would otherwise be wasted.

First, open the blinds. Get all the free solar heat you can. Think of ovens and dryers; when they’re in use, consider running your system fan to spread the warmth through the house. If you have an attached garage, put your vehicles inside when they’re warm from the day’s driving, then close the door so that engine heat can radiate into the garage.

When energy costs are getting at your financial wellness, it’s easy to make some changes. The steps we’ve outlined here are simple chores that will last for years, or they’re minor lifestyle changes that will quickly become second nature.

By putting these five suggestions to work for you, you can take charge of your power bill and finally bring an end to sticker shock.