It’s been a common focus for many in recent years; ways we can reuse and recycle products for additional purposes and how we can become more sustainable in our day-to-day lives. We take our own coffee cup to the café, we opt to bike or walk to save on fuel, and we separate our food containers more cautiously before we throw them away.
These are some of the great approaches we’ve adopted to reduce our external environmental impact, but what about ways we can reduce energy consumption within our home also?
It’s Time to Winterize…
Yes, it’s that time of year again when we start to notice our energy bill costs creeping up, but how can we keep more of the warmth in and more of the cold out?
Have you ever sat on the couch near a window and felt a constant chill? Windows and doors can account for up to 25% of total house heat loss. And by cranking the thermostat to compensate, you may as well slip quarter of your heating bill out those window cracks while you’re at it.
There are a few ways you can look to upgrade or replace your windows with more energy-efficient models. Perhaps you’re willing to bite the bullet and fully replace your windows with a new ENERGY STAR® window or insert (even if just for the rooms of your house you spend the most time). If so, these will certainly help reduce the cold drafts, increase heat retention on the interior side, and reduce condensation.
Nowadays, double pane windows are standard for Canadian homes, but if you want to make your windows up to 50% more efficient than a double-glazed window, you can branch right out and get triple pane units. Not only will they keep you warmer in winter, but they’ll also help to keep your house cooler in the summer months by blocking the warmer temperatures from coming through.
If you can’t afford all new window hardware, run a quick check of your windows for signs of damage; rot, mould, deterioration to the putty or joints. Depending on the condition of the window there may be smaller parts to the window or frame that you can replace (or repair) before needing to swap it out completely.
Air leakage can be reduced by applying a new seal of caulk internally around window trims (where it meets the wall), as well as externally. Don’t forget that a heavy curtain or quality blind can also reduce heat loss through your windows and there are thermal options available. Window film is also a great way to insulate your home while also decreasing the environmental impact as it’s often recyclable. You can easily pick up some insulated window film for your home from your nearest Rona.
2. Ceiling Fans
Perhaps you installed a ceiling fan during the summer as we can all remember how hot it got! Check your model because many ceiling fans have what’s called a ‘reverse mode’. Instead of pulling the hot air up and away from you when you’re overheating, turning it to ‘clockwise’ lets it gather the warm air from above and push it back down, circulating warmth throughout the room. Sound good? Shop your new reverse model fan here and bonus, get free shipping in Canada!
Another efficient way to heat your home is with a heat pump, which also moves heat around. Similar to a ceiling fan, a heat pump is an air conditioning unit that can work in reverse – taking air from outside your house and through a process of compression and coolant heating, transferring warm air through to the inside. There are a few types of heat pumps available so make sure that if you do buy an A/C unit to help in summer, check that it has a ‘reverse’ function to keep you warm in winter.
Clean BC, BC Hydro and Fortis BC are offering rebates for up to $6,000 for the purchase and installation of a rebate eligible heat pump (depending on how you currently heat your home). Click here to find out more and see if you qualify.
Did you know that for every degree you turn your thermostat down, you can save between 1.5-5% of your heating bill. By switching to a ‘smart thermostat’ you can reduce your costs as well as your homes CO2 emissions.
This smart technology can turn its temperature down when no-one is home, it can alert you when you when your home is too cold (or too hot) and can even learn your preferred temperatures throughout the day. Ultimately, you have greater control over how much energy you save (even from afar via remote or smartphone app).
Telus offer a great monthly payment plan to help you come home to the perfect temperature.
Saving money and protecting the environment is a double-win, and spray foam insulation is a great way to increase the energy efficiency of your home by up to 50%. Pumped into your walls, attic or crawl space, spray foam expands to form an insulation barrier once applied. The benefit of spray foam is that it fills even the smallest spaces with seamless, durable insulation.
Westcor Thermal is located in Vancouver and throughout B.C. and are happy to provide recommendations and estimates, so reach out to them today if this is a consideration for your home.
When you think solar, you might think of sunshine and harnessing it to warm up your home. However, solar panels can also serve as insulators in the winter by helping to keep the warm air you do have in your home, on the inside! Retaining their heat is a great way solar panels make your home more energy-efficient, use less power and save you more money in the long run – it’s not unusual for people to use 20-30% less electricity.
As a homeowner, you’ll be pleased to know that recent studies show that adding solar panels to your home adds 4.1% to the market value of your home! Just keep in mind that if you live in an area that is partial to snowfall, make sure any excess is removed so they can still capture sunlight during the day and keep the panels in tip-top working order.
Right now, you can apply for a Residential Solar Grant of up to $5,000 to help homeowners make their homes more energy-efficient.
Bonus Energy Efficiency Tips…
An unexpected candidate at first glance but consider how a large couch in front of your baseboard heater could be the prime suspect absorbing all the heat without sharing it with the rest of the room. Shift any large furniture pieces that block heat sources and allow heat to free flow. Also, check for any rugs that might be covering air ducts.
With the sun farewelling our day a little earlier these months, we rely on artificial light sources for longer periods of time. Consider any light fittings in your home that can use LED bulbs, as they are the most energy-efficient lighting option currently available.
Residential LEDs use 75% less energy than standard incandescent lights and last 25 times longer. Don’t let their slightly higher price point put you off, you’ll save a lot more money in the long run because you’ll be replacing them a whole lot less! Consider LED bulbs for your ceiling, cabinets, downlights and even those holiday lights!
3. Reuse heat
With the festive season approaching, your oven will likely get a good workout – from the turkey and Christmas cake through to reheating all the leftovers (because who lets those go to waste!). Ovens not only create a lot of heat, but they also use up a lot of energy doing so.
A very simple and effective way to add heat to your home (if using your oven), is to leave the door open ajar after you’ve finished using it! Let the heat you’ve just paid to generate recycle itself into a larger space. Perhaps close doors to other rooms to keep the heat limited to the area you will be in…
Additionally, if you’re an avid oven user year-round, perhaps consider upgrading to an energy-efficient electric oven and range. Most new models will feature an ‘Energy Star’ rating that can help you identify the most energy-saving appliances but here are a few other guidelines when choosing a model that will use less energy:
- Choose a convection oven. This feature might cost more upfront, but a convection oven can cook dishes faster and at lower temperatures
- Choose an induction cooktop. These save energy by using electromagnetic energy to generate heat, and it’s a safer option because the cooktop always stays cool to the touch
- Choose a self-cleaning oven. These ovens require extra insulation due to the high heat of the self-cleaning cycle, and that makes them more efficient overall
If you’re in the market for a new home, you might like to make a list of energy-efficient fittings and furnishings so you can do a quick scan when you’re at a property inspection. Alternatively, look around your home and see where you can make a quick repair or invest in replacing an item that will help you live in a more energy-efficient space. And don’t forget – if you’re looking to sell, any repairs, renovations or upgrades you complete will only add value to your home.
Reach out to one of our Stilhavn REALTORS® today and find your new energy-friendly havn.