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ARTICLES & INTEREST

How to Save Money by Making Your Home More Efficient?

April 30, 2019
ask a renomark renovatorbild greater toronto areaenergy efficient home


By Chris Phillips of Greening Homes Ltd.
 

Your home may look the same as your neighbours but it may be costing you more money to maintain it. The assumption that all homes are created equal is not true. Within the GTA, there are homes that were built in the 1800s and have since been renovated 20 times or more. Let me help explain where you might be wasting money every month and provide you with some tips to help improve the energy efficiency of your home on your next home renovation. 

Energy efficiency in your home is a combination of many different parts (electricity, heating, cooling, air leakage and insulation). Making your home more energy efficient in an integrated way can be very complicated and needs to consider all aspects of your home.  You can start this process on your own with a few easy steps.

Electricity
Managing your electricity costs can be as simple as switching your light bulbs to LED. This alone can save you over 60 per cent of your lighting electricity use. You can go one step further and use newer light switches that have a dimming feature, occupancy sensor (it will turn the light off if you leave it on) and smart home features. These more expensive lights switches cost more up front, but they will save you money in the long run: especially if you have a person in your home that always forgets to turn off the light when they leave the room! 

Heating & Cooling
Make sure that your thermostat is installed in a central location without anything blocking it. If you have a curtain or something else blocking the airflow around it, then it will not register the temperature in your home properly and lead to overheating or overcooling. Also: don’t forget to check the expiry date on your thermostat! Just like smoke detectors, there is a practical life expectancy for these devices. I suggest that after 10 years of use you should consider replacing your home thermostat. 

As for the temperature setting while you are at home: this is a personal preference. Some people like a warmer or cooler house and control of that is completely up to you. But consider your temperature settings for when you are not at home, and adjust your temperature setting by 10 degrees Celsius. Your system won’t turn on when you don’t need it to: this will save you money in operational costs and also increase the life-span of your heating and cooling system. A Smart Thermostat allows you to return your home to a comfortable temperature, firing the system 30 minutes before you arrive.

Your Passive Choices
After addressing the more proactive things like your thermostat settings and lighting systems, you should look at the passive parts of your home that are costing you money. Let’s look at air leaks. If the seals around windows and doors are leaking, then you are losing valuable heated or cooled air all the time. This can be fixed simply by replacing the gaskets or applying caulking. You can also eliminate air leakage and create a much better building envelope by rebuilding old exterior walls -- integrating a well-detailed air and vapour retarder and adding insulation to create a more comfortable living space. 

Using a professional renovator to help guide you through the process of making your home more energy efficient will help save you money. Always remember to obtain a detailed contract and get building and electrical permits when they are required: this will protect you and ensure that the work is completed according to code. 

If this column has generated any thoughts or questions regarding a past or future renovation please send your questions to RenoMark@bildgta.ca and look for our answers to your questions in the next Ask a RenoMark Renovator column. I look forward to hearing from you.

Chris Phillips holds a Masters Degree in Building Science from Ryerson University and is a graduate of the Sustainable Design and Build program at Fleming College. Chris is also a LEED® Accredited Professional. Realizing the need to make a difference in an often incredibly wasteful and unhealthy industry, Chris founded the green building/renovations firm Greening Homes Ltd. in 2007.

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