The energy efficiency of Canadian homes has improved greatly over the years. Thanks to major advances in building techniques and product innovation, today’s new home owner can expect to use only half of the energy required for a similar home built in 1950, and at the same time enjoy a far more comfortable living environment.
While today’s new homes offer an excellent starting point, there are still many opportunities, large and small, to increase the energy performance and comfort of your home.
Ask your professional new home builder for information and advice. The builder’s specification list of materials and products is a great starting point. For instance, how will your home be insulated, and could you add extra insulation in the attic, the most exposed walls or the entire house? What are the cost implications and possible impact on construction? Your builder can explain these and other opportunities to help you make informed decisions to suit your budget and long-term plans.
Generally, double-glazed windows are standard in today’s new homes. From there, you have a wide range of options for energy improvements. Common upgrades include low-E coating on the glazing, inert gas fill between glass layers and insulating spacers to keep the glass layers apart—all designed to reduce the transfer of heat from the warmest to the coldest parts of the window. This also reduces window condensation and makes your home more comfortable. Other options include additional glass layers and improved frame design.
Some better quality windows carry an Energy Rating (ER) label—a plus or minus rating system that makes it easier to compare performance and relative heat loss. A few high-efficiency windows rate positive, which means they can actually contribute to heating your home through passive solar gain. Fixed, or non-opening, windows are generally more energy efficient than operable windows. Professional new home builders often recommend using different types of windows, with the most energy-efficient ones installed on the more exposed sides of the home.
Heating uses a significant amount of your home’s energy, from 40% to 60% depending on the system. Consider investing in a high-efficiency system to reduce your annual heating costs. Also, ask your builder about other energy-efficient options, such as hybrid furnaces that combine space and water heating, in-floor radiant heating and “heating zone” controls.
No matter which system you choose, control systems such as programmable thermostats with multiple set-back modes and other features can help you maximize your heating dollars while keeping you in the comfort zone.
The amount of energy consumed by major household appliances can add up quickly, so choosing energy-efficient models for your new home can make a significant difference in your budget. When shopping, use the EnerGuide® label to compare energy ratings between models. For dishwashers, refrigerators and clothes washers, look for the EnergyStar® mark on the label to find the most energy-efficient models available today.
There are many other measures you can take to reduce your energy bills further. For instance, consider fans with timers and low-flow showerheads for the bathroom. Use energy-efficient lighting throughout the house, with automatic timers for when you are away, and motion or light sensors for outside security lighting. Ask your builder for more recommendations.
A number of professional home builders are registered and licensed to build R-2000 homes, the most energy-efficient home available today. The R-2000 Standard sets criteria for efficient use of energy, improved indoor air quality and better environmental responsibility in the construction and operation of a home. High construction quality and a superior indoor living environment has made R-2000 a model for energy-efficient home construction around the world.
Whether you are thinking about appliances, furnaces or a range of other equipment for your home, let Canada’s EnerGuide label help you make energy-wise choices. Visit oee.nrcan.gc.ca/energuide to find out how EnerGuide works. Use the Energy Cost calculator before you make a buying decision. Get lots of energy saving advice.