Green is the new "it" colour when it comes to home renovations. We're not talking some funky shade for the living room but rather the stamp of eco-friendly updates.
A green reno can not only decrease energy costs but can also significantly improve the comfort of a home, says Bob Deeks, president and owner of Whistler, BC's RDC Fine Homes.
"An energy efficient house is quiet, has better heat distribution in winter, is cooler in summer, is more durable with lower maintenance costs, easier to keep clean and has better indoor air quality as a result of better material choice and better ventilation. It offers an all-round healthier living environment.
"Green is much more than carbon footprint and energy," he adds. "A green home is far more liveable."
More and more people nationwide are taking the planet — and by extension their pocket — into account when planning renovations.
According to a Bosch Green Savings Survey conducted by Angus Reid Public Opinion, 76 percent Canadians are already making or planning to make environmental changes to their home.
The leading reasons people go for energy-efficient upgrades to their home are to save money (72 per cent), reduce their impact on the environment (37 per cent), and improve resale value (34 per cent).
Seventy per cent of Canadians said they think their energy costs will go up by more than 10 percent over the next five years.
When asked what environmentally friendly improvements they've already completed or are planning to make, Canadians' top responses included:
- replacing regular light bulbs with compact fluorescent ones
- purchasing energy-efficient appliances
- replacing or upgrading windows
- upgrading to energy-efficient heating or cooling systems
- insulating basement, roof, or walls
Different jurisdictions offer grants and other incentives to make environmentally sound upgrades, while several online tools help you figure out the costs and savings associated with things like heating and water use.
Where to start with your green renovation
If you want to start by replacing specific items in your home, such as kitchen appliances and laundry machines, learn about the EnerGuide system. Its labels are part of a federal initiative that rates the energy consumption and efficiency of major appliances; heating, cooling, and ventilating equipment; windows, doors and skylights; lighting and electronics; and more.
RDC's Bob Deeks offers his top 10 green-renovation recommendations.
1. Perform an energy audit with a certified energy advisor with "blower door" test. This measures your home's rate of air leakage. Air-tight homes are energy-efficient, meaning you reduce the greenhouse-gas emissions your home produces that contribute to climate change, and less expensive to operate.
2. Seal up all easily accessible air leaks.
3. Install programmable thermostats, which help you save energy by programming the system to turn off and on and to achieve specific temperatures at different times of day.
4. Seal and insulate the basement and crawl space.
5. Add additional insulation to the attic. As with the basement, air-sealing this space will help reduce energy bills.
6. Put in new exterior doors. Those that don't seal or operate properly aren't energy-efficient.
7. Replace carpets with wood, tile, or other hard, natural surface material. "New carpet can produce harmful volatile organic compounds [VOCs] and can also trap indoor pollutants that are difficult to remove," Deeks says. "Carpets may look clean but be still very dirty." Those VOCs are harmful to both human and environmental health.
8. Repaint with zero-VOC paints.
9. Put in new windows. Double or triple panels assure energy-efficiency. Plus, they'll help provide comfort, with warmth in winter and cool air during summer.
10. Consider landscape features for passive cooling. "By planting deciduous trees on the western and southern exposures, you can reduce cooling in summer and provide for passive heat gain in winter," Deeks says.