Ready, Steady, Snow!

Make your home more energy efficient and save money this winter


No one wants to think of the imminent arrival of old man winter when we are still enjoying the glorious summer weather. But summer is the best time to get your home winter-ready. Retrofits and outside work is best done before the arrival of inclement weather. There are a number of ways to make your home more cosy and reduce your utilities bills. Remember that the costs of improvements in efficiency will be recovered in utility savings. The government also offers incentives and tax cuts to those who make their homes more environmentally friendly.

Create an effective ‘building envelope’ where all of the heat you generate is kept inside to make your home warmer and more energy efficient. An effective insulating wall system, like ICFs, ensures the integrity of your building envelope and can save you up to 50% in HVAC costs.

Consider installing geothermal heating for the most efficient heat and a source of hot water that will recover the cost of installation in a couple of years.

If you are interested in beefing up the insulation of existing walls, use rigid foam insulation like SilverBoard. These EPS boards are coated with reflective lamination which offers the home owner a high r-value and negates the need for house wrap. The added insulation will help keep heat in and cold out. The expense of retrofitting can easily be recovered with HVAC savings.

If you are due for a furnace inspection, call an HVAC professional. Regular inspections can help to keep your furnace running at optimum efficiency. Clean out ducts, replace or clean filters and bleed hot water radiators to eliminate air bubbles.

If you use a wood stove or fireplace, clean out chimneys and check that the damper is in good working condition. Wood stove chimneys need to be swept once a year, fireplace chimneys less often.

Test smoke alarms and ensure that extinguishers are in good working order.

Check caulking around the exterior of your home and weather stripping around your doors. Fill in any gaps or cracks. The Earthworks Group claim that cracks in the average home can add up to a 9 square foot hole in the wall.

Studies show that up to 40% of heat is lost through poorly insulated basements. The best material for your basements is ICFs. Amvic ICFs are particularly good for basement builds as they have added strength which means the concrete poured inside the ICF blocks can be vibrated, increasing compaction and making the basement waterproof.

Inspect your roof and replace worn shingles and tiles.

Seal up crawlspaces and gaps in the foundation to prevent animals from selecting your home for their winter hibernation.

You can lose a large amount of heat in ducted systems if your ducts are not insulated or are dirty. Don’t use duct tape, use metal backed tape to repair any cracks or holes. Better still; install a heat recovery ventilation system which recovers up to 88% of available heat energy.

Insulate your attic with at least 12 inches of insulation. Older homes have 6 to 9 inches of insulation that will need to be replaced or reinforced. If you can see your joists, chances are you don’t have your 12 inch ideal. Be careful when adding insulation on top of existing sheets as moisture can become trapped between the sheets. Use Envirosheet, EPS insulation sheeting, to bolster existing insulation.

Replace single pane windows with gas filled or double pane options. Triple pane, gas filled windows offer the best protection in both summer and winter, but they are costly. Consider replacing a few at a time. In the interim, use an insulation kit to winterize your windows.

Reverse the direction of ceiling fans to better distribute heat.

Trim back any tree branches that may break under the weight of snow and cause damage to your home or car.

Make this winter your most energy efficient ever. It will save you money and is good for the environment too.

Topics

Building Envelope, Energy Efficiency

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