Renovating for energy efficiency

Your home operates as a system. All its elements – the building envelope, ventilation, heating and cooling systems, the external environment and even the activities of the occupants – affect one another.

How these elements interact determines your home’s overall performance. For example, poor insulation or ventilation can cancel out your investment in a new furnace or upgraded windows and doors. Your energy efficiency upgrades will truly pay off only if you address the entire system.

Consult Natural Resources Canada’s publication Keeping the Heat In about upgrades in your home that can improve its energy efficiency.

Assess your home’s performance

The first step is to assess your home’s overall energy performance. You can schedule an EnerGuide home evaluation with an energy advisor who will prepare a comprehensive energy efficiency report.

This evaluation will show how much energy you are using, give insight into upgrades that can improve your energy efficiency, and even give you recommendations on what you should renovate.

Note that this service is not a home inspection. The energy advisor is not responsible for verifying that projects or products meet relevant building codes, standards or legislation.

And while energy advisors use NRCan’s official marks, trademarks, and software under a licencing agreement, they operate as independent businesses, and are not agents, partners, or employees of NRCan.

Planning your renovation

Once you know what type of upgrades you want to make, you’ll need to decide whether to tackle the project yourself or hire a contractor.

Doing it yourself

If you choose to do the work yourself, keep health and safety always in mind.

  • Use tools and products according to manufacturers’ directions.
  • Wear appropriate protective clothing and equipment.
  • Protect your home and family from dust, debris and possible contaminants.
  • Take precautions when you work in areas that may contain vermin and their droppings, mould, lead, asbestos, vermiculite insulation and other hazardous materials.

Hiring a contractor

Your contractor is responsible for complying with local bylaws and relevant provincial, territorial and federal legislation and guidelines. Ask any prospective contractor questions such as:

  • May I contact your references?
  • Will this project comply with bylaws and other legislation and will it require building or utility permits?
  • Do the products you recommend meet all applicable legislation and can you provide any available Material Safety Data Sheets?
  • What experience do you and your team have with these products and procedures and what challenges have you experienced?
  • What steps will you take to protect my home and family during and after the renovation?

Once you choose a contractor, ask for quotes in writing. Insist on a written contract before work begins.

Do your homework

As the homeowner, you are responsible for choosing materials and getting the necessary building and utility permits. If no building permit is required or issued, you and your contractor are responsible for making sure all products, services and installations meet relevant building codes and standards.

Choosing products

Get the facts about the products you or your contractor intend to use.

  • Learn and follow proper installation techniques.
  • Ensure that products meet Canadian product standards. Some products carry a compliance mark or stamp. Others may have an evaluation number issued by the Canadian Construction Materials Centre.
  • Find out about any health and safety issues related to these products; request Material Safety Data Sheets if they apply and follow safety guidelines.

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Learn more

Learn about important health and safety considerations for energy efficient renovations.

Explore About Your House fact sheets for renovations prepared by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

Read more about renovating your home for energy efficiency in the NRCan publication Keeping the Heat In.

Learn more about hiring a contractor at the Canadian Home Builders’ Association’s Get It In Writing section.