Energy efficient retrofits
Nov 2, 2013 / 5:00 am
Renovating your home can become quite costly, especially looking at a kitchen or bathroom upgrade. But renovating for energy efficiency doesn’t have to be, and in fact ends up saving you money in the long run. When renovating a home to be more energy efficient there is a definite path to success, it all depends on how far you want to go with your renovations.
Here are 7 steps to take to get closer to net-zero energy use:
1. Mechanical System: Older heating systems, whether that be a furnace or boiler are often the largest culprit in energy consumption in an older home. This upgrade is quite often the biggest energy saver right out of the gate. If you can afford it, adding Solar Water heating is a great way to upgrade the efficiency of hot water production. If you are planning on completing more steps listed below it is best to do the other steps first, allowing you to downsize the mechanical equipment.
2. Basement/Crawl Space: Conditioning the basement and/or crawlspace by insulating and installing an air/vapor barrier is a great way to reduce moisture and heat loss. Unconditioned spaces can be a source of high humidity levels which leads to mold growth. Spray Foam insulation can be a quick and easy way to address the insulation, air and vapor barrier.
3. Attic Space: One of the things to think about when it comes to the attic space is Stack Effect. Stack effect or Chimney effect, is the movement of air into and out of buildings as driven by buoyancy. This buoyancy occurs due to a difference in indoor-to-outdoor air density resulting from temperature and moister differences. The greater the thermal difference and the height of the structure, the greater the buoyancy force and thus the stack effect. So if a house is leaky at the bottom it is leaky at the top creating a cold and drafty house in the winter, and hot in the summer. Good insulating can also contribute to good air sealing. A great one step solution that would also eliminate the need for roof venting is spray foam under the roof sheathing.
4. Windows & Doors: Once the bottom and the top of the home are well insulated and sealed the walls is the next order of business. Older windows in a home do not function properly and can be a huge contributor to heat loss and air leakage. They are also a source of water leakage too, largely due to condensation. The best solution is to replace them with ENERGYSTAR windows to seal the rough opening in the wall.
5. Walls: Empty wall cavities will suck the heat right out of your home. These walls with little or no insulation in them will often feel cold to the touch in the colder months. Another way to tell is by the use of a thermal imaging camera. A cheap, easy and effective way to fill these cavities is to blow cellulose into them, rather than ripping all the drywall off and using BATT insulation.
6. Appliances and Lighting: After taking care of space heating and conditioning of the building envelope, appliances and lighting are next on the list. Replacing old appliances with new ENERGYSTAR appliances will reduce energy use substantially. For instance a new ENERGYSTAR refrigerator will use 15% less energy than a standard model while replacing old light fixtures with CFL fixtures ensures your electric bill will stay lower.
7. Renewable Energy: the last step in the net zero process after your energy consumption has been reduced significantly is to find ways to produce your own energy. Some systems for this are photovoltaic, wind power or hydro. This step however only makes sense once all other measures are taken so that your energy usage is as low as possible.
Read more Think Globally Act Locally articles
- What is an Energy Efficiency Evaluation? Nov 30
- Energy efficient retrofits Nov 2
- Increased R-value in foundation walls Oct 22
- Importance of a well insulated attic Oct 5
- Okanagan Energy Diet: Part 2 Sep 21
- Okanagan Energy Diet: Part 1 Sep 7
- Importance of indoor air quality Jun 29
- Is your home energy efficient? May 29
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