ENERGY EFFICIENT BUILDINGS
Prior to the mid 1970’s gas, electricity and water was much cheaper than it is now. Homes were not designed or even required to be energy efficient. Energy efficiency just didn’t matter as much.
Over the last 30-40 years the cost of energy and water and the way society is looking at the environment has changed. Today it’s all about energy efficiency. Building codes are changing and manufacturers are improving; windows, Insulation levels (attic, walls), heating products, hot water tanks, toilets. light bulbs, appliances, electronics etc.
NRC Energy Efficiency Trends in Canada 1990-2009 by NRCan has some interesting information on residential and commercial use of energy…Were 80% (63% heating and 17% water heating) of all residential energy needs was spent on space and water heating in 2009 (Chapter 3 Residential Sector). Appliances accounted for 14%, Lighting 4% and Space Cooling 2%. Chapter 4 Commercial/Institutional Sector also has some very interesting facts about energy use in buildings.
The home is becoming redesigned to become as energy efficient as possible. It may be in your best interest to take advantage of products which can save you Energy, Money and the Environment.
NOTE: Please keep in mind that the house is like a system of components all working together. If you upgrade your windows or add insulation to your attic or walls then you may be reducing the ability for air to move into and out of your home, which in turn may cause moisture related damages. In this case properly utilizing your house fans (bathroom/kitchen range-hood) or even adding an Heat Recovery Ventilator may be required to help reduce excessive moisture levels in the house.
If your serious about energy efficiency then you might be interested in reading NRC Keeping The Heat In In by NRCan this publication will provide valuable information on upgrading the energy performance of your home and how to do it the right way.
What is Energy Star Certification? – Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) promotes energy-efficient products with three tools:
1. Energy Efficient Regulation – which sets minimum energy performance standards.
2.The Energuide Label – which shows how much energy a specific product uses and how to read the label.
3.The Energy Star symbol – which identifies high efficient models.
If you want to save energy, lower utility bills, and reduce the impact on the environment then energy efficient products may be the answer. You can start with the products 1-14 listed below (14 Ways you can make your home more Energy Efficient) or you can also search the Product Information Section at NRCan which has information on over 70 products in a variety of residential and commercial categories. There is even a Searchable Product List which you can compare products and find the most energy efficient product for your specific needs. Natural Resources Canada(NRC) has also published an Online Calculator which can calculate the lifetime costs based on an Energuide Rating.
You can even go directly to the Energy Star – 2021 Award Winners.
Energy Efficiency – Multi-Unit Residential Buildings (MURB) – Residential buildings are an area of concern for owners and property managers. Many MURB’s can actually be less efficient then typical single family homes, read more in Achieving High Performance BURB’S by CMHC. In many situations energy efficient products for a MURB can be similar to a residential or commercial product, see 14 ways to save energy below. Air leakage can also be a major area of concern. CMHC has published an Air-Leakage Control Manual for Multi-Unit Buildings. Interesting information for building owners, operators and property managers.
14 Ways to Save Energy – Residential and Commercial:
1. Windows – life expectancy of approx 20-30 years. The energy efficiency of windows takes into account several performance metrics (U-Factor,Solar Heat Gain Coefficient and Air Leakage) which translates into an Energy Rating or ER. Click this link to Find an Energy Star Certified Window. Click this link for More info on Windows.
2. Insulation – Properly Insulating the Attic (25% heat loss), Floors (15% heat loss) and Walls (35% heat loss) with the right type and R-Value of insulation you can have an impact on energy consumption and in turn save money…$. (all heat loss values are approx.). Click here for More info on Insulation.
3a. Hot Water Tanks, Residential – Canadians use an average of 75 Litres of hot water each at home every day—for washing dishes and clothing, cleaning and showering or bathing. Water heaters account for 17% of the energy used in the average Canadian home. The majority of water heaters are rented in Ontario. Reliance and Enercare are companies who rent water heaters – Ask if they have Energy Star Certified water heaters or if your buying a hot water heater you can Click this link to Find an Energy Star Certified Hot Water Tank.
3b. Hot Water Tank, Commercial – Commercial Energy Star Rated Hot Water Tanks.
4. Lighting – Accounts for 4% of the energy use in residential homes. Click this link to Find an Energy Star Certified Lighting Product.
5a. Heating and Cooling, Residential – Canada’s cold climate means that space heating accounts for a remarkable 63% of the energy used in the average Canadian home. In commercial and institutional settings, space heating accounts for 56% of energy use. Click this link to find Energy Star Certified Heating Equipment. Click this link to find Energy Star Certified Cooling Products. Click this link for More info on Furnace and A/C’s.
6. Programmable Thermostats – Space heating and cooling represents almost two thirds of your home energy use. Choosing an Energy Star Certified connected thermostat is a “smart” way to save at least 8% of that energy use and keep your home comfortable. Controlling the day and times your furnace or A/C is on can save you money. Click this link to Find an Energy Star Certified Programmable Thermostat. Click for More info on Thermostats.
7. Air Leaks – Seal air leaks around doors and windows with weatherstripping and caulking. Home Depot weatherstripping.
8. Insulate Pipes – Water pipes cold and hot can be insulated to help reduce energy loss. Home Depot pipe insulation.
9. Exhaust Fans – As stated above improving the insulation levels can have an effect on the house as a whole system. An Energy Star Certified ventilating fan or exhaust fan (also known as a ventilation or vent fan) uses 50% less energy, on average, than a standard model. This includes bathroom/utility room fans and range hoods. Click this link to find Energy Star Certified Exhaust Fans. Click this link for More Info on Fans and Ventilation.
10. Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV) – An HRV is a ventilation device that helps make your home healthier, cleaner, and more comfortable by continuously replacing stale indoor air with fresh outdoor air. Click this link to find an Energy Star Certified HRV. Click here for More info on HRV’s.
11. Water Savings – Install water-saving toilets, faucet aerators and shower-heads (rated at less than 7.6 litres per minute). Check and repair leaky faucets and outside hose bibs. I couldn’t find an Energy Star Certification for toilets but there is a US EPA WaterSense Standard for Residential Toilets and Commercial Toilets which many manufacturers meet.
12. Baseboard Heaters/Space Heaters – If your house has baseboard heaters and they are old then you might benefit with upgrading to newer more efficient models. Currently there isn’t an Energy Star Certification but there is newer technologies and more efficient models – Click this link for More info on baseboard heaters (scroll down to the end of the review for more info on installation)
13. Appliances – Appliances, such as fridges, freezers, dishwashers and water coolers, account for up to 12% of the energy used in the average Canadian home?. Click this link to Find an Energy Star Certified Appliance.
13b. Appliances, Commercial – Appliances for Commercial Use.
14. Electronics – A 2011 Natural Resources Canada study found that entertainment and home office equipment alone accounted for more than 20% of electricity used in non-electrically heated homes. Click this link to Find an Energy Star Certified Electronic Product.