What is an energy-efficient home?
An energy-efficient home would be categorized as a home that uses less energy or that uses energy responsibly. Building codes have changed in the last two decades in order to make newly constructed homes more energy efficient. Buying an energy-efficient home or upgrades to an existing home will enhance comfort and help save on utility bills. Making these conscious choices will also help reduce our carbon footprint and thus protect our environment.
Impact on the Environment
14% of homes in Canada are creating greenhouse gas emissions. These types of emissions in the atmosphere are causing a “greenhouse effect”. This damaging impact on the environment is contributing to climate change and rising temperatures. By purchasing an energy-efficient home or updating your home, you can drastically reduce the impact of greenhouse emissions while improving comfort and saving money.
What makes a home efficient?
Think of your home and what it takes to run it. You need fuel to heat the home and electricity to power the home. You need appliances to keep your environment cool and your food fresh. All of these features come at a cost to the homeowner. And since we spend a lot of time indoors it is important to have these features optimized to save money and provide a comfortable living environment. Energy-efficient homes can also be key features when selling your home!
Here are some key features of an energy-efficient home:
- Well-insulated airtight construction
- High-Efficiency Equipment (Furnace, Water Heater, AC)
- High-Performance Energy Star Appliances
- LED Lighting
- Energy-efficient Windows
What are the benefits?
- Decreases impact on the environment
- Enhanced comfort (Cool in the summer and warm in the winter)
- Increases the value of the home for resale
- Reduces energy costs
Homes will now come with an EnerGuide score so you can determine how efficient the home is. A 0 rating would indicate that the home is of low efficiency (air leaks, lack of insulation) and a 100 score would indicate an air-tight and well-insulated home.
Here are some tips for improving your homes energy score:
- Replace older windows with energy-efficient windows
- Install water-saving toilets, faucet aerators and shower heads
- Install high-efficiency heating, cooling and water heating equipment.
- Consider upgrading your water heater to a tankless water-on-demand type.
- Replace halogen with LED lighting.
- Updated the home’s insulation levels to meet current building codes.
- Replace appliances with Energy Star appliances.
- Insulate the home’s piping where feasible.
- Seal air leaks around windows/doors
- Install a programmable thermostat
- Set equipment/exterior light fixtures etc. on timers to reduce the frequency of use
There are many grants available currently for homeowners that provide rebates or other incentives to make energy-related updates to their homes. For more information, you can look at the Natural Resources Canada website and your local utility company website. Some grants require an energy audit to be done prior to the updates.