Lorraine Gauthier came by to show off her zero energy house project and to give us some suggestions on what you can do to make your home 'greener' - both to help the environment and cut your bills, at the same time.
What you can do to make your home greener:
1. You can change your behaviour
You can change your behaviour by becoming aware of your energy habits by having an energy audit consultation, or by using a monitoring system, or buying a gauge that can help you determine where you are using excess amounts of energy.
To find out how much energy you are using, there are various tools that can help you stop wasting it.
For example: Blue Line monitor $150.00. Ecobees monitor (at ecobee.com) $1500.00 . Or the Kilo-Watt -- hand held device to measure how much electricity an appliance uses $25.00.
2. Reduce electricity use
Use CFL lights
Buy ENERGY STAR appliances - energy-efficient upgrades can reduce greenhouse gas emissions by up to 4 tonnes per household and reduce energy use by 30 per cent (big cash savings for homeowners.)
ENERGY STAR appliances use anywhere from 10 - 50% less energy and less water than standard models
Control the " phantom load", such as computers that are switched off but not unplugged... computers are HUGE draws of electricity, as are phone chargers left plugged in.
NOTE: In the next few years, houses will be Energy rated just as appliances are now - new builders will have to let potential homeowners know just how much energy their house draws to heat it, light it and operate it. Following that - older homes will also be including an energy audit when they're put up for resale - just as now, when you are buying a house, it states what the property taxes are. This is already happening in some European countries. Therefore - making your home more energy efficient is an investment for future re-sale appeal.
3. Reduce heat loss
Biggest results from Insulation - basement, attic, walls.
Next priority is windows & doors (If you're not replacing them, you can still help by putting in weather stripping and caulking.)
4. Use drapes and blinds
Even drapes and blinds can help you to 'green' your home throughout the seasons - use them to shut out hot sun in summer and keep your house cooler, using less energy for air conditioning and to let the sun in on winter days and the room warmer on winter nights.
5. Plant trees and shrubs
What you do outside can also help to make your house more green on the inside - Planting trees and shrubs in the right places can provide wind protection on cold days, making the house warmer and cozier and they can provide shade in the summer, keeping the house cooler and lowering your energy use for air conditioners. But do so strategically so you don't block the natural light coming into the house. (In rural areas you often see trees used to protect the farmhouse from the westerly winds.
6. Reduce water use:
We may live in the land of lakes but water is precious. To conserve it and use it wisely, Put aerators on faucets and shower heads to reduce how much you use.
Install Low flow fixtures (dual flush toilet) - rebates available in some communities.
Consider the 'chilly pepper' (a small hot water pump that eliminates the water that is wasted while you wait for the shower water to heat up)
Lorraine heads up a green design consulting firm called Work Worth Doing. The Now House project was one of the 12 winning teams from across Canada in a CMHC government design competition for a net zero energy house.
Visit online at: