Greening up Your Home
Earth month is finally here, and as a huge fan of this planet I love that we get to celebrate it as our common home this month! Is it just me or are you smelling that spring scent in the air that tells our senses that soon we’ll see buds on the trees and grassy sprouts of green? I notice that I’m hearing birds first thing in the morning again, and when my fur-baby Sadie and I are out at our favourite off leash parks here in Calgary, she has been standing at attention sniffing the air as deep as her little dog lungs let her. And I’m grateful not to have the furnace kicking on so often now that the air is warmer and the sun is producing noticeable warmth during the day!
I live in a home that has a beautiful basement we renovated over a decade ago, and where we re-built the main floor of the home a few years after the basement was developed. I’m grateful to have the benefit of living in a home that is energy efficient. Thinking about how nice it is to live in a home with great insulation, triple pane windows and a high efficiency furnace and water heater got me wondering about your home. Could your home have some upgrades that would be beneficial for you and your family and that could serve a greater purpose of making small changes towards lessening our negative impact on our planet as a whole?
Whether you’re in the early stage of saving money towards a good quality renovation or you’re already in the planning stages mapping out the scope of your upcoming renovation, here are seven of the many ways you can upgrade your home to be more earth friendly and energy efficient.
- Demolition: Recycling and/or reusing building products that are removed during demolition.
- Windows: Upgrading all windows to triple pane windows, with glazing options of a UV film that is installed in the factory that helps to minimize heat loss in the winter and keep your home cool in the summer.
- Insulation: Upgrading all insulation to increase the R-Value of your home. R-Value is a term used in the construction industry to communicate how insulation resists heat flow. Higher R-Values are connected to having better insulation against heat loss in your home. The insulation in your home can be upgraded from the inside during your renovations, or from the exterior at the same time that the exterior finish of your home is replaced.
- We are particular fans of using spray foam insulation at a minimum for joist and truss/rafter tail ends and as the base for attic insulation, as it insulates and creates its own air barrier in these hard to reach areas.
- Check out this video from this excellent local insulation company!
- Mechanical Room Systems: Upgrading mechanical room systems to high efficient furnace and water heaters, and/or combined units. Mechanical room systems include furnaces, boilers, air conditioners, water heaters, hard water conditioners and more.
If you have hot and cold air registers in your home you have a forced air heating system. You can ensure that a much higher percentage of hot air is coming out of your registers by having your ducts Aerosealed®. Aerosealing is way to seal holes and gaps in the ductwork (that runs in the floors and walls of your home) from the inside of the ductwork, and can increase hot air flow through the ducts by directing up to 20% more air flow out of your heat registers!
- Check out this combo furnace/water heater that our clients love!
- Check out this diagram of how Aeroseal® works
- Appliances: Upgrade appliances that are energy hogs, and consider having an EnerGuide Home Inspection performed so that you have a prioritized list of what to upgrade
- Our good friend Marco at WestPro Building Performance and Testing can provide you with a thorough home energy audit.
- Plumbing Fixtures: Replacing plumbing fixtures such as toilets and shower heads to new, low flow fixtures can reduce your water usage by a large percentage! I realize that here in Canada one of our natural resources that is in abundance is fresh water from our glacier fed rivers. Though water is not in an immediate shortage here in Calgary, all of the water that enters and exits our homes must go through several stages of filtration and treatment both as it enters and exits our municipal water system. By lessening our water consumption we lessen the requirement of chemicals and energy to first treat the water that enters our homes, and then is later treated again before it re-enters our natural waterways. Check out this fun, online tour of Calgary’s Water Treatment Process!
A concern we hear from some homeowners about upgrading their plumbing fixtures to low flow fixtures is that with this reduced amount of water, toilet bowls don’t always clear completely, and shower heads don’t always have sufficient water flow to properly rinse long/thick hair. We always recommend using plumbing fixtures from wholesalers (instead of less expensive models that are available in big box stores). The reason for this is that a better quality toilet that is engineered specifically for low water usage is designed with features to help fully clear the bowl. These better quality toilets will have features like non-stick glazing on the ceramic finish inside of the toilet bowl, and water spigots inside the bowl that are designed to use naturally occurring physics laws such as gravity and centripetal force to ensure that the water that is flushing the toilet bowl either falls and/or swirls in the bowl with a speed that is designed to clear the bowl completely. How neat is that?! Better quality low flow shower heads will contain aerators that increase the pressure of the water leaving the shower head, while adding air to the water, to ensure that the lower water amount coming out of the shower head is able to fully rinse long/thick hair.
- Finishes: Installing finishes (paint, lacquer, etc.) that use low or no VOC paint and other non-toxic finishing materials
If you live here in Calgary, Alberta, we would love to hear how you are upgrading your home to be more energy efficient and what steps you are taking to help create long term sustainability on our planet. Which of these upgrades can we help you out with?Happy April! Wishing you a great Earth Month!