Put your home on an energy diet this spring.

Larry Brydon,
LEED AP – Vice Chair – Reliance Home Comfort

Mr. Brydon is currently a Senior Account Representative with Reliance Home Comfort where he supports New Product Development projects within their Builder Markets Group.

He is both a LEED Accredited Professional, and an NRCan Certified Energy Evaluator with the EnergyStar and Energuide programs. In addition to his role with Sustainable Buildings Canada, he also serves as Chair of the Canada Green Building Council – Greater Toronto Chapter and is a Board Director for BILD, the Building Industry and Land Development Associations ( formerly Greater Toronto Home Builders Association and The Urban Development Institute).

Moving forward we are going to update this monthly with tips and instructions on reducing your environment footprint and saving on heating and cooling costs in the process.

April, 2011.

Putting your home on an energy diet is about becoming more energy efficient while reducing your cost of living and lessening your home’s impact on the environment.  Spring signals the time when homeowners start thinking about home repairs. So why not start thinking about green retrofitting instead?

It’s a perfect time to start thinking about dropping watts, which will result in a healthier home for you and your family, in addition to creating green habits for all.

As an expert in home comfort and as a Certified Energy Evaluator, I [Reliance] have homeowners asking me about how they can adopt any energy efficient technologies and behaviours in their homes.  Slimming down your home’s energy consumption is all about taking small short-term steps and eventually making long-term investments to make your home less expensive to operate, more comfortable to live in and more environmentally friendly.

Your home, just like your body, is a complex system. We need to look at the whole picture when we are considering retrofitting a home – you wouldn’t just exercise one muscle, you need to get your whole body into shape over time.  Green retrofitting is about looking at how much energy our systems are eating and the ways we can curb our habits so those systems are more efficient.

The good news is there are many ways to tip the energy scales in your favour

Green retrofitting your home can start today. So I am going to share with you a range of good, better and best tips and ideas from quick and low-cost ways to put your home on a crash energy diet to longer-term investments which will continue to take watts off for good.

These easy and inexpensive steps will help eliminate watts around your home:

1. Block those leaks.
First, find the leaks: on a breezy day, walk around inside holding a feather duster to the most common drafty areas: recessed lighting, window and door frames and electrical outlets. Caulk, apply weather-stripping or spray foam to those drafty spots where this makes sense to do (e.g. windows and doors); if the seal is meant to stop exterior leaks from the outside, then use weather-resistant caulk.

2. Monitor and manage your electricity consumption.
A device such as the Cent-O-Metre is like a pedometer for your home. It allows you to monitor how much energy your house is consuming in real-time, and how much it’s costing you per hour. By simply turning appliances off or unplugging devices around your home, you’ll instantly see the effects – this way you can manage and monitor your energy diet at all times

3. Make the switch.
Incandescent bulbs are being phased out beginning in 2012.  Replace some (or all) of your incandescent bulbs with fluorescents and enjoy reductions in heat production and energy use. Changing five of the most frequently used bulbs in your home can save you $100 per year on electric bills

4. Change your filter.
Replace the air filter in your furnace and air conditioner at the start of the heating or cooling season; if it’s dirty the furnace needs to work harder to pass the air through which means it’s spending more energy. The more often you change your furnace filter during the heating season, the less electrical energy is used by your furnace blower motor. There’s nothing wrong with changing your filter regularly and often

5. Power-strip it.
Put TV’s, computers, stereo equipment and other devices on power strips and turn the strip off when connected devices aren’t in use.

These measures are modestly priced and focus more proactive and maintenance-type activities

1. Hire an energy advisor, they’re like a personal trainer for your home.
You can hire an independent energy advisor who has been certified by Natural Resources Canada to perform an energy efficiency evaluation of your home. They’ll give you a checklist of recommended retrofits to improve the energy efficiency of your home including the life expectancy of your home’s major appliances.  If you know you’re furnace only has five years left you can start to prioritize and plan for your recommended retrofits – instead of trying to make a deal with a contractor on Christmas day when your furnace is broken and you have to pay an inflated price for it.

2. Have your furnace checked.
It’s a good idea to have furnaces checked regularly to ensure they’re in good working order. Have your furnace or heating system serviced by a qualified service company, like Reliance

The next couples of ways to eliminate watts are more complex and aimed at helping homeowners in the long-term

1. Think about going tankless.
Tankless water heaters employ sophisticated heat exchange technology for greater efficiency and energy savings.  Unlike traditional water heater tanks, tankless water heaters provide hot water on demand, so they’re only using energy when needed. They’re a great option for couples of snowbirds who don’t require hot water for numerous activities simultaneously.  This model from Reliance can be rented for $34.99 a month and you can immediately reduce the amount of energy usage in your home

2. Rent to retrofit.
While windows and other major retrofits can be expensive, consider renting your major appliances – your furnace, air conditioner – it will free up capital to make major upgrades to your home and will make the highest energy efficiency appliances available to you at the time of replacement. Instead of spending $3,000 on a new furnace you can rent one from Reliance for a fraction of the cost, as low as $69.99 per month including annual maintenance, and put the savings towards other retrofits around your home

3. Water Heat Recovery.
Heat recovery is like getting heat for free – you have already paid for it once, so why pay again when you could reuse that heat.  This innovative technology is simple, long-lasting and has no moving parts.  When warm water goes down the drain, it carries away valuable energy with it. Drain water heat recovery systems can recover some or most of this valuable energy and use it to preheat cold fresh water.  It’s environmentally friendly, and can reduce your energy consumption by five to 10%.

For all of your home comfort needs, contact your local Reliance Home Comfort specialist by calling 1-866-Reliance or visit www.reliancehomecomfort.com

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Theo Dimson April 16, 2011 at 12:26 pm

Most interesting TD

Omnia May 5, 2012 at 5:14 am

Well, avoid the Earth4Energy scams. I see there is one posted here aeadrly. I expose it here: Your biggest expense is heating (if you are in a northern climate) and perhaps cooling. If you are using the cheapest energy source (e.g. natural gas for heat) then your best option is to add more insulation. Consider a thermal audit using an IR gun. Without a thermal imager, you are blind. Have a look at this: for some examples. A lot of homes, even expensive ones, have shoddy insulation.Next comes domestic hot water. Low flow shower heads with a shut off valve (while soaping up) is the best value.If you still have some 1990 appliances I would dump them. They have come a long way in 19 years and even the cheapest appliance today is more efficient than the best back then. This includes your AC unit.On-demand water heaters will not save you much because the standby losses on a well insulated tank are very small.Things like CF bulbs can save you money, but only if you use them more than an hour a day. Also, in the winter, the heat a regular bulb generates isn’t wasted. If you were using electric heat, the cost of running a regular light bulb would be zero in the winter. There are a lot of green products out there that aren’t so great once you work out the math.If you want a comprehensive analysis, there is a detailed e-book here that works out the economic value of all the options so that your can prioritize your investments. Hope this helps.

Umman May 6, 2012 at 9:59 pm

One of my biggest ernegy savers is a programmable thermostat. In the winter, I heat the house for about 2 hours in the morning and 2-3 hours in the evening.Check your insulation in the old house, you may want to blow some insulation into the walls.Caulk, caulk, and caulk some more. A bunch of small holes that let outside air in can be easily filled. If you have a lot of leaks, it could be like leaving a window open.If you have forced air heat/cooling, use mastic cement to seal the duct work. Leaks can let a lot of heat escape into places you don’t want to heat.Sometimes, your ernegy company (gas, oil or electric) will come to your home for an ernegy audit. They can find good places for your ernegy dollars.

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