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3 Ways to Reduce Your Home’s Carbon Footprint

3 ways to reduce your home’s carbon footprint

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3 ways to reduce your home’s carbon footprint

More people than ever are realising the impact of human activity on the planet and are trying to find ways to minimise it. And one of the things that can be done is to reduce our carbon footprint. The issue is that many people try to focus on the wrong things without noticing the small ways that they may be leaking energy. This is why you have to monitor how you consume energy closely and make changes at multiple levels. Here are a few ways to reduce your home’s carbon footprint.

Go for Net-Zero building

The best way to make sure that your home has a minimal carbon footprint is to build it with energy efficiency in mind. Net Zero homes are homes that can produce as much energy as they consume. Net Zero homes are not only able to generate energy on-site but are also built to be as energy-efficient as possible.

But you have to make sure that you work with the right team to get the results you want and end up with a true Net Zero home. You could get net zero homes with Effect Home Builders, for instance, and they’ve been building net energy homes for over a decade and received various accolades. Working with a reputable team will ensure that they build a home you’ll love, be comfortable in, and will allow you to save both energy and money in the long run.

Go tankless

It’s still surprising to see how many people have no idea about tankless water heating systems and how they work. But depending on your household, this could allow you to significantly reduce your energy consumption.

Traditional water heaters spend unnecessary energy keeping the water in the tank hot for hours. Tankless water heaters, on the other hand, automatically heat water coming from your water supply using heating elements. Not only does it mean that you only spend energy when you need it, but you also don’t have to worry about running out of hot water.

Seal and insulate

One of the simplest things that you can do to reduce your energy consumption and carbon footprint is to make sure that your home is sealed as tight as possible. Not only is this a cost-effective method, but it is one you can do yourself as well.

While many people will concentrate on spots like under-door spaces and windows, there are many places where your home may be leaking energy. These include electrical receptacles and outlets, mail slots, space around pipes, fireplace dampers, and more. Also, note that attics are a common area for leaks as hot air rises. So, make sure that it is properly insulated, and call in a professional if you’re unsure of whether you can do the job alone.

Bottom line

Now that you know how to improve your home energy-efficiency, make sure that you do everything you can to follow through. Not only will you be able to sleep better knowing you did something for the planet, but you’ll have a nice surprise when you look at your next energy bill.


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All in the Family – with multi-generational homes

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All in the Family – with multi-generational homes

Photography by Ben Rahn

Multi-generational homes are typically defined as those in which three or more generations live under the same roof; however, the structure of these homes can vary considerably, with some families choosing to renovate and other families deciding to purchase new-builds specifically designed for multi-generational living.

What’s old is new again

Despite the rash of recent media publicity, multi-generational homes are certainly nothing new, and it may be more precise to say that they are experiencing a renaissance. In fact, prior to the second World War, multi-generational living was the norm in many North American households, and it was only in the 1950s and ’60s that young adults began moving out at 19 or 20, never to return. Moreover, in many parts of the world, especially in Southern European and South-Asian countries, multi-generational households are common, if not the norm.

Contributing factors and a ‘fun’ fact

In Canada, multi-generational living arrangements are among the fastest growing household type, with the 2016 Census showing a 37.5 per cent increase in the number of multi-generational households since 2001. There are several factors contributing to their increasing popularity including: the rising cost of detached homes and lack of inventory (AKA “the housing crisis”), Canada’s changing ethnocultural composition, the delayed marriage pattern, and longer life expectancy, with seniors 65+ outnumbering children for the first time since Canada began recording such facts.

Not surprisingly, the demand for multi-generational homes is greater in high-priced housing markets such as Vancouver and Toronto. Fun fact: Toronto recently came 12th in a ranking of the world’s most expensive places to live, according to a new report by the CBRE that analyzed housing and rental prices for 35 major cities around the world. Architects and homebuilder associations are taking note of the increased demand for multi-generational homes. According to Calgary’s Smarter Growth Initiative, “The building industry is seeing a trend in multi-generational housing across Canada.” Builders and architects are therefore adapting floor plans and certain design elements have become selling points for this growing market.

An award-winning multi-generational masterpiece

The Toronto-based architect and design firm, Williamson Williamson Inc. has noticed the increased demand for multi-generational houses. Their third multi-generational home was completed in November 2016, and is a stunning home located in Ancaster, Ontario. This contemporary home is situated on a wide lot backing onto Ancaster Creek and was awarded a prestigious Ontario Association of Architects award.

The home was designed to connect with the land and echoes its natural surroundings with a local material palette of wood and stone. The exterior is clad in 3-1/2″ thick locally sourced Algonquin limestone. Plentiful, oversized windows reflect the serenity of the wooded lot and provide abundant natural light and expansive views. The upper parts of the home are clad in milled cedar boards, which contrast beautifully with the clean, linear modern esthetic.

Design for the Ages

The home also incorporates sustainable systems and accommodations for the homeowners’ elderly parents, proving that multi-generational housing and modern luxury are not mutually exclusive.

A fully equipped ground-floor suite

As with most multi-generational homes, this home was conceived as two separate residences. The parents’ suite is situated on the ground floor (so that they don’t have to contend with the stairs), and is fully equipped with a master bedroom, living and dining space, and even an extra bedroom and bathroom should live-in help become necessary at some point in the future.

Safety First

Carefully considered added features include well-placed drains and a master power switch, which were implemented to mitigate the issues that come with memory loss, such as a sink left running or an oven left on. An induction cooktop was selected because the burners don’t generate heat, and the cooktop both cooks and cools faster than conventional burners. Wide corridors benefit from bright lighting so that the parents can easily navigate between rooms with higher lumen counts in the bathroom and kitchen areas.

Shared living spaces

As is common in most multi-generational homes, the spacious ground floor also has shared living spaces. The modern kitchen features a 20-foot-tall pyramidal ceiling, back-painted glass, polished Calacatta slabs, and a large oak island, making it the perfect place for the entire family to convene.

The dining and living room are also communal spaces, with a honed travertine fireplace built into a feature oak wall, and a statement wood-clad spiral staircase that connects the living room to the second floor, where the homeowners have their private suite.

Upper-floor private retreat

The clean, modern esthetic continues upstairs with the master bedroom where the emphasis is on the floor-to-ceiling windows, which offer up the best views of the creek. The serene master bath is clad in grey marble tiles, and a custom oak library doubles as an office. Even better, the homeowners have their own private lounge with a concealed bar, perfect for one-on-one time.

Energy-efficient and eco-conscious design

With multi-generational homes, it’s important to have energy-efficient HVAC systems, and this Ancaster home doesn’t disappoint. The envelope of the house is highly insulated with triple-pane wood-frame windows. A high-efficiency furnace reduces the reliance on floor heating in the colder months, and a 37 module 9.8 kW solar array was installed across two of the flat roofs, offsetting energy consumption. LED lighting is also used throughout the home. Collectively, these measures result in a low-energy, eco-conscious home.

A smart solution with multiple benefits

As lifespans and housing prices continue to rise, multi-generational housing will provide a smart solution for families willing to embrace it. In fact, as long as privacy and autonomy are preserved, the benefits far outweigh the drawbacks: close familial relationships, live-in caregivers for the young and the aged, and, of course, the pooling of financial resources. It doesn’t get much better than this – especially when you have the means to customize a beautiful home like this Ancaster Creek stunner.

For those who are considering this lifestyle but are constrained by more restrictive budgets, a great option is the FlezHouz by Marshall Homes, with a base price of $1.6 million. Essentially, the FlezHouz is a large house with a smaller independent house contained inside it. Make no mistake, these homes are well planned and constructed, and have been selling out fast since 2018, when an enterprising GTA builder named Craig Marshall foresaw the need for multi-generational housing in the high-priced Toronto market.


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Don’t forget about these winter window maintenance tasks

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Don’t forget about these winter window maintenance tasks

As home heating costs continue to rise, saving money and conserving the home’s warm air has become a top priority for many Canadian homeowners. That’s why it’s essential to take time to maintain your windows this winter, since drafty windows can account for up to 40% of a home’s heat loss. Here are a few tips on how to keep the heat in.

Check for Leaks

The best way to prevent heat from sneaking out the window is by checking the windows in your home for any leaks. An easy way to do this is with a smoldering incense stick. Light the incense and hold it close to each window. If the smoke is being pushed away from the window, there’s a good chance that you might have a leak.

You also want to check the caulking along the frame since it can dry out and gap.

Insulate your Windows

Winter insulation is a good idea for homes in most cold weather climates. It keeps home interiors comfortable and home heating bills low. Two easy ways to keep the warm air inside are with window insulation film and thermal curtains.

Window Insulation Film

Window insulation film is often available as part of a kit, which contains double-sided tape and a large sheet of insulating film. The tape it affixed to the window frame and then the film is applied to it. Next, a hair dryer is used to tighten the film by shrinking it into place.

Thermal Curtains

Thermal window curtains are an easy, affordable way to provide extra insulation. Sometimes called cold-blocking curtains, these energy-conserving window coverings are either double or triple layered and may also be coated on one side with an acrylic foam. Some options are available layered and backed by a thick, insulating layer.

Replace the Windows

Sometimes the best solution for a drafty home is to replace your windows. Leaky windows can not only elevate your home heating bill but can lead to additional problems like allergens getting into the home, and condensation, which can lead to mold, mildew and damage to surrounding wood.

Newer, more energy-efficient double and triple glazed models can be filled with inert gas which provides further insulation. They will help you enjoy a more comfortable home and lower your energy bills as well.

*Article courtesy of EiEiHome


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The View From Inside: Extreme Weather Conditions

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The View From Inside: Extreme Weather Conditions

The Advantages of buying a newly constructed home.

By Louie Morizio, Geranium

The frigid temperatures we experienced in late December through early January bring sharply into focus the many advantages of owning a newly built home – among them a comfortable indoor environment in a house designed to withstand extreme weather conditions.

The Ontario Building Code (OBC) lays out stringent criteria that builders in the province have to meet. Included are minimum requirements for items such as insulation, airtightness, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems and many other elements that also contribute to sustaining the life of the home itself.

With advances in materials, technology and construction techniques, it’s important to the homeowners that builders offer the finest and most energy efficient new homes. To ensure this practice, OBC, which is administered by the Building and Development Branch of the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, is reviewed and updated every five to seven years. Occasionally, amendments are made between reviews to accommodate specific advancements in building and energy requirements.

Today’s walls, ceilings, windows and doors are designed to minimize the effects of the outside climate on the interior temperature of the home while also providing more energy efficiency than ever before. Increases to the minimum R-value for insulation by the OBC (the higher the R-value, the greater the insulating effectiveness) ultimately lowers the cost to heat and cool a home, and results in a more comfortable indoor environment. In a Geranium-built home, we also use upgraded foam insulation that is sprayed in place to fill gaps around exterior pipes and hard to heat areas where cold can penetrate.

You may have seen homes under construction, or under renovation, where a weather-resistive barrier or home wrap has been installed. This product is a breathable membrane that acts as a superior air barrier to protect against drafts and condensation.

New homes require experts to design the HVAC systems, and the calculations are done precisely for the size and building components of each home. Today’s furnaces are highly effective and the OBC ensures a minimum efficiency.

If you are among the many who will be shopping for a home this year, there’s a strong case to be made for buying new, of which this article only addresses one aspect. It is also wise to ask about the builder’s construction approach and whether they build to minimum OBC standards, or aim higher, as Geranium does.

Compared to the homes of decades ago, new homes offer more comfort and efficiency, especially important during our Ontario winters. Focusing on the behind-the-wall building practices ensures built-in value, in essence future proofing homes and protecting our homebuyers’ investments. To learn more about construction techniques, visit Geranium.com and view our Construction & Craftsmanship video.

Louie Morizio, is vice president, housing for Geranium and a Director of RESCON. Since 1977, Geranium has built more than 8,000 homes in fine neighbourhoods and communities throughout Ontario.



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Product Profile: Enbridge

Product Profile: Enbridge Gas

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Product Profile: Enbridge Gas

Savings by Design program improves energy performance and saves on costs

Enbridge Gas Distribution is committed to helping its customers and the environment through delivering and incenting energy education and efficiency programs. Its Savings by Design (SBD) program improves the energy performance of new homes and buildings in Ontario, which in turn helps homeowners and businesses save on their energy costs.

The SBD program is a green building initiative through which Enbridge offers support and financial incentives from early design all the way through construction to assist builders with the vision of constructing energy-efficient, healthy and sustainable homes and buildings that exceed municipal and provincial building code requirements. SBD is delivered with one goal in mind: to help builders and developers achieve higher levels of energy and environmental performance.

The SBD program has assisted in saving over two tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions per home with over 7,000 residences having been built to the SBD standard and over 90 commercial buildings in various stages of program participation.

Taking into account the size of the average commercial building, it is expected there will be savings in excess of 27,500 tonnes of GHG emissions as a result of the SBD program by December of 2017.

The SBD program demonstrates wide-reaching impacts with more than 200 residential and commercial builders, their supply chain partners, their customers and their communities having benefitted from the Savings by Design program. The program creates awareness and building inventory that ensures the next generation of buildings in Ontario have the energy and environmental performance commensurate with the province’s goal of leading in the fight against climate change.

Enbridge recognizes that natural resources and green spaces are precious, and we take great responsibility in protecting the environment. To date, its energy-efficiency programs have saved 10.3 billion cubic metres of natural gas, reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 19.4 million tonnes. That’s enough energy to heat 4.3 million homes for an entire year.

Savings by Design

Go online to learn more about the SBD program.



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