By Jennifer Lynn Walker
Here is a list of smart, environmental upgrades that will add value to your home and help save you some money. Before you start on any project, be sure to check for municipal, provincial, and/or federal grants.
Insulate before you go solar
For any building that is less than 5,000 square feet, it’s best to put your money into insulation rather than installing solar panels. Insulation is the key to energy efficiency and it will provide the best return on investment in the years to come. Most insulation jobs pay off in an average of three-to-five years.
Finish your basement
Depending on when and how your home was built, at least a third of your energy escapes through the basement. In fact, basements lose so much heat that passive energy home designs generally do not include them.
Tip: Be sure to include caulking or spray foam in the joints where the perimeter sill meets the foundation and the floor joists.
Insulate your attic
After the basement, the biggest heat leak is likely your roof or attic. The average building loses as much as 25 percent of its heat through the attic.
The most environmentally friendly type of attic insulation is blown cellulose, which is composed of 75-85 percent recycled paper fiber, usually post-consumer newsprint. Blown insulation helps you avoid gaps and thereby ensures you get the highest R-value, which is a measure of insulating power.
Gain the benefit of a green roof
The life expectancy of a green roof is 50 years compared to 15-20 years for a conventional roof. There are all kinds of benefits to having a green roof: in summer it protects the building from direct solar heat and in winter it adds insulation to the roof. Year-round, it retains water for less storm run-off.
Be smart about windows
A lot of people believe that most heat loss happens through the windows. This isn’t true for most buildings. Most heat loss happens through the walls, attic, and basement. However, windows do play an important role in maintaining good energy efficiency.
Tip: No matter what the R-value of your window, you can be sure it won’t include the frame as part of the R-calculation. The frame typically lowers the overall R-value. Fill the space between the frame and the stud with spray foam insulation to keep your building’s energy efficiency high.
It’s important to manage the moisture in your building because it takes a lot of energy to heat humid air. You want to avoid moisture from getting into the walls and lowering the R-value of your insulation and to prevent the accumulation of rot and mould. Moisture can be especially high in the basement so install a dehumidifier, which will solve the problem perfectly.
Install programmable thermostats
Programmable thermostats are extremely efficient because you can choose what times you want the heat lowered or raised and on which days. When properly used, the programmable thermostat can save you roughly $150 annually so you’ll likely see the return on your investment within one year.
Cover your hot water tank
Insulating your hot water tank is an easy and inexpensive way to save money every month. A project like this pays for itself in about a year.
All these tips will not only save you money but they’ll help lower your impact on this planet and that’s a great thing! Read more articles on making your life greener here.