This buzz word is everywhere these days,
but what does being energy efficient really mean?
One field that has been a leader in defining energy efficiency
is the designing and building of environmentally friendly houses.
We consume tons of energy heating our homes in the winter,
and cooling them in the summer.
And, don’t forget about the large amounts of water we use for
bathing, washing, and keeping our garden’s green.
In the past, building an energy-efficient home could be costly –
most had to be custom built.
Today, thanks to programs that Natural Resources Canada
manages like the EnerGuide Rating System, R-2000 Standard,
and ENERGY STAR for New Homes.
New homebuyers looking to upgrade their building plans
have a wide array of options to choose from
when it comes to making their home energy efficient.
Natural Resources Canada developed the EnerGuide
Rating System to determine a home’s level of energy efficiency.
The more energy efficient the home,
the higher the ranking on the 0-100 scale.
Homes built to the R-2000 standard achieve
a minimum energy efficiency rating of 80
on the EnerGuide rating scale.
This translates to a home that uses approximately 30 percent
less energy than a similar non-R-2000 home that was built
to minimum building code requirements.
ENERGY STAR for New Homes is available in some areas;
ENERGY STAR qualified new homes are designed
to be significantly more energy efficient than those
built to regular construction standards.
But, what does all this mean?
What actually makes a home more energy efficient?
From the design, to the construction,
to the types of appliances you install –
including energy efficiency upgrades
during the construction process helps to increase
your homes energy performance and comfort.
For example, windows were traditionally a weak point.
But, due to advancements in technology,
you can get better installation practices,
and great energy efficiency without sacrificing on aesthetics.
Typically, you will find energy efficient windows
in R-2000 or ENERGY STAR qualified new homes.
A home’s ventilation system is another place to consider
watching for possible energy efficiency improvements.
For example, R-2000 homes require the use
of a whole-house mechanical ventilation system
called a heat recovery ventilator, or (HRV).
Installed by certified contractors,
it will not only remove stale air and humidity,
but also bring fresh air into the house.
In winter, the HRV saves energy
by capturing the heat from the outgoing air.
An HRV can also help you breath easier.
Properly ventilated homes have better indoor air quality.
Homes built to R-2000 standards are also constructed
using healthier building components
such as low VOC paints, ceramic tile, and hardwood flooring.
All of which bring less chemicals into your home,
further improving your home’s indoor air quality.
Using energy efficient light bulbs,
low-flow showerheads, and water-conserving toilets
are some easy solutions to improving
the energy efficiency of your home.
Also, consider choosing building materials
such as insulation, drywall, or wood trim
that were manufactured using recycled materials.
Choosing ENERGY STAR qualified appliances
and electronics will also make your home
more energy efficient.
You might also like to consider including
renewable energy sources in your new home
or plan to install them later on.
When you choose the Solar Ready option,
your builder will design cost-effective adjustments
for your home so you can install solar equipment in the future.
When thinking of buying a new home, it’s a good idea
to discuss these options with your builder in advance.
It’s often less expensive to build energy efficiency
features into a home during construction
than to make modifications later on.
You can find a list of builders
that are involved in these programs on NRCan’s website.
Opting to buy or build an energy efficient home,
will save you money on your energy bills.
And, because most of the energy we consume in Canada
comes from fossil fuels,
the energy you save heating and cooling your home
will help decrease the impact of your home on the environment.
Visit www.newhomes.nrcan.gc.ca to find more about newly-built, energy-efficient homes.