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Deciding which home improvement project to do next can be hard. But, have you ever considered that some home upgrades can actually provide a financial return and help fight climate change? Upgrading parts of your home that affect energy use can have a major impact on your energy bills and your carbon footprint. But, which energy-saving projects are best? Here’s our list:

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Replace inefficient lighting with LEDs

LED lights not only save energy but also reduce waste compared to incandescent bulbs. Chances are your home has at least a few 100 W or 60W incandescent light bulbs. You can replace these bulbs with 10W or 6W LED equivalent bulbs to reduce energy use by 90%! This is especially effective for lights that remain on for long periods of time. LED fixtures will also generate maintenance savings due to their long lifetime, resulting in less frequent lamp burnouts, and less waste. You can replace all bulbs at once or install LEDs as current bulbs burn out.

Install a programmable or smart thermostat

A non-programmable thermostat allows you to set one temperature that is maintained 24 hours per day and seven days per week. A programmable thermostat allows you to program the temperature to reflect the occupancy pattern of your home. This allows your heating system to operate less when you are not home which saves energy. A smart thermostat will learn your occupancy habits automatically and control your heating system to optimize both comfort and energy savings.

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Improve the air tightness of your home

Air sealing is one of the most cost-effective energy-saving measures that can be done to your home. It is typically completed before other upgrades to ensure optimal benefit from all other work that is done. Air sealing improves comfort by reducing drafts and saves energy by minimizing heat loss.

Common air leakage locations are electrical outlets, ceiling fixtures, wire and pipe penetrations, window and door frames, attic hatches, ducts, and baseboards. You can often seal air leaks with caulk or a foam sealant. Foundation headers (rim joist), wall to ceiling junctions and chimney penetrations may require more aggressive air sealing techniques.

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Upgrade to a high-efficiency furnace

A high-efficiency furnace uses less natural gas or propane to heat your home. In most cases, it is worthwhile to upgrade your furnace once existing equipment has reached the end of its rated lifetime. An efficient furnace saves energy, lowers heating costs and can also improve the comfort of your home.

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Reduce water use and waste

Reducing the water flow of faucets, showerheads, toilets, and urinals will save water and the energy used to heat the water. This can be done by installing low-flow aerators, toilettes, faucets and showerheads. Regularly check to make sure that faucets are not leaking as this can be a significant source of wasted water.

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Install a tankless hot water heater

A tankless hot water heater eliminates the need to store hot water in a tank by producing hot water on demand. Since hot water doesn’t require storage, there is almost no heat loss. Tankless hot water heaters sit on the wall and require less space than a hot water tank.

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Add or replace insulation

Improving insulation will keep your home warmer during winter and cooler during summer while reducing energy costs. Additionally, improving a home’s insulation can allow for smaller sizing of new heating and cooling systems when undertaking those upgrades.

To upgrade your attic insulation, apply batt and loose-fill insulation between or on top of the ceiling joists or trusses. Always look for opportunities to improve air sealing during insulation upgrades.

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Upgrade windows and doors

Upgrading windows and doors improves thermal comfort, reduces heating and cooling bills and may reduce outdoor noise. Replacing windows and doors can reduce or eliminate condensation on the inside of the glazing and frames.
Installing the recommended ENERGY STAR certified units will maximize the benefits of new windows, doors and/or skylights. For optimum energy efficiency, consider features such as low-E coatings, inert gas fills, triple glazing and additional insulation.

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Install solar PV

A small solar PV system of 20 panels or less can provide a significant percentage of your home’s annual electricity demands. A solar PV system consists of solar panels on the roof and inverters tied into your main breaker panel. When the sun is shining, the solar panels produce power and your home uses this renewable electricity. If the solar panels produce more electricity than your home requires, the excess is exported onto the grid, and you receive a credit on your utility bill. When the solar panels are not producing enough power to meet your electricity demand (during winter and at night), you still draw electricity from the grid.

Solar PV installation
A typical solar PV installation will take 2-3 days

A home energy assessment (HEA) will determines the best energy saving projects in your home

A HEA analyzes how your home uses, wastes and creates energy. As part of a home energy assessment, a home energy expert will:

  • Compete a blower door test to identify air leakage spots
  • Use a thermal imaging camera to reveal insulation gaps
  • Measure thickness of attic and wall insulation
  • Provide you with an energuide label and rating which is required to access grants
  • A home energy assessment report that includes recommended energy efficiency projects
Thermal imaging camera
A thermal imaging camera helps reveal temperature differences in your home’s envelope.
Blower door test
A blower door test negatively pressures your home to make it easier to identify air leaks.
Reach out with questions about the best energy-saving projects, solar PV or to schedule an energy assessment.