Homeowners are becoming increasingly interested in improving the energy efficiency of their house to reduce costs, improve comfort and help protect the environment.
Many older Canadian houses are relatively drafty and lightly insulated, and this can result in higher heat losses and energy bills — even in those built more recently, between the 1950s and the 1980s.
Let’s say it’s 20 degrees out, and you are outside in nothing but a track suit (I won’t judge your fashion choices) and a pair of sunglasses. You are given three choices: 1) you can have a new pair of more tightly fitting wraparound sunglasses, 2) you can put on a hat and a sweater under your track jacket or 3) you can eat all the hot chili you want to keep warm from the inside out. They may seem like strange choices, but humor me for a few minutes.
People usually consider three major upgrades: windows, insulation, and new mechanical systems.
But swapping out windows is like opting for the sunglasses.
They might provide some additional comfort and keep the area around your eyes a little warmer, but it’s not going to make things much better while the rest of you is freezing. They typically do not make up a large proportion of the building’s envelope (a term that refers to the walls, ceilings, and floor of the building). Replacing that with a pretty good efficiency new window will bring it up to an R-3 or R-4.
Failing to get permits can result in having to pull out finished work.3.
Your electrical system needs to match your needs; figuring out where and how you’ll be using power makes it easier to frame the parameters of the job.2. Codes set standards for everything from how many outlets you’ll put in each room to what kind of wire you’ll be using.Fortunately, there are several options that you, as a homeowner, can consider for reducing heat loss, including adding, or retrofitting, insulation to your house.A well-insulated and well-sealed house needs less heating in the winter (and less cooling in the summer), protects you from increasing energy prices, uses resources more efficiently, has less environmental impact, and is more comfortable to live in.Finally, consider clean energy generation such as solar or geothermal.Effective insulation slows the rate that heat flows out of the house in winter or into the house in summer, so less energy is required to heat or cool the house.The most effective strategy for improving household energy efficiency is to first target your home’s envelope—walls, attic, windows and doors.Then, improve the energy efficiency of systems, such as heating, cooling, lighting and appliances.Yet efforts to update electrical systems can often result in damage to historic buildings.Conversations with top electricians have provided us with a a list of steps to take in order to make rewiring proceed more smoothly, with fewer holes punched in the walls, floors, and ceilings—or, heaven forbid, a structural beam.1.Your contractor’s expertise is more important than the insulation material you choose.Properly installed fiberglass, cellulose and most foam insulation materials can all reduce the heat conduction of the completed wall system.Choosing how much insulation to add to your house can be confusing and will be influenced by the space heating energy savings you wish to achieve, the way your house is constructed, and your budget.This provides general guidance for achieving varying degrees of space heating energy savings by better insulating and air sealing your house.Unless something is actively failing, it can be difficult to know which to tackle first.