Energy efficiency is a major concern for many home owners. Being energy efficient is not only easier on your pocket book, but also on the environment. There are many improvements you can make ranging from minor changes to larger renovations. Some of the main areas to consider are:
1) Heating/cooling systems
Air conditioners and furnaces use a lot of energy; the air conditioner is typically the biggest consumer of power in most homes. You can reduce your energy consumption by changing your habits and by keeping your systems well maintained. Some ways to improve in this area include:
– Periodically replace air filters in air conditioners and heaters.
– Use ceiling fans as an alternative for cooling a room versus turning up the A/C.
– Set thermostats to an appropriate temperature and install programmable thermostats.
– Improve vents for a more even distribution of hot/cold air throughout the house.
2) Air leaks and insulation
The average 50-year-old home loses a third of its energy through air leakage. Improvements in this area can yield huge energy savings.
– Improve your walls. Look for small holes and cracks in walls, gaps around baseboards, sockets and attic hatches.
– Upgrade windows and doors. Gaps around old, ill-fitting windows and doors let cold air in and warm air out, as does the glass on single-glazed windows.
– Insulate your attic. Attics, especially in older homes, often lack sufficient insulation (12” or more) and a vapour barrier to decrease drafts.
3) Water consumption
– Install water efficient toilets and shower heads. Low-flow showerheads and aerator faucets mix air and water to give less flow but maintain high pressure.
– Upgrade your washing machine to an energy efficient unit and launder your clothes in cold water.
4) Electricity and appliances
– Upgrade your older appliances to new ENERY STAR efficient models.
– Consider natural lighting sources such as skylights, clerestory windows (short, wide windows set high on the wall), and light tubes (channels sunlight through a tube designed to distribute light evenly).
– Replace all incandescents with compact fluorescents, and install dimmer switches.
There are a lot of incentives in the form of grants and rebates available to home owners and home builders from the Government of Canada and Provincial Governments that are worth looking into. The best way to get started is to have an energy audit on your home to identify the main areas in need of improvement, however even small changes to the areas discussed here will make a difference in your energy consumption and reduce your utility bills.