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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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Reno Expert: Overseas Building Products

Overseas Options: Building products that are bigger abroad

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Overseas Options: Building products that are bigger abroad

When you travel the world, you discover that so many of the things that we take for granted as standard aren’t necessarily the one and only way to do things. Take garbage collection, for example. We wheel out our garbage and recycling bins to the curb every week for a truck to pick up the trash and make it disappear, but in many European cities, they have automated systems that use pneumatic tubes to deliver the material from the bin straight to a sorting facility. Here are a few homebuilding-related items that are more popular abroad than they are here.

Incineration toilets

In rural areas where sewage lines aren’t available, the standard option is a septic system. But in many cases, the site location makes it prohibitively expensive to install one.

Courtesy of Cinderella Incineration Toilets
Courtesy of Cinderella Incineration Toilets

Facing concerns over water contamination from leaking septic systems, the Scandinavians have become expert manufacturers of composting toilets (aka incineration toilets). In recent years, brands such as Cinderella and Envirolet incinerating toilets have become popular options for Canadian cottagers. As the name suggests, these odourless systems incinerate the waste, leaving only sterile ashes that need to be disposed of in the trash every month or so.

In addition to saving thousands of dollars on installing a septic tank, these toilets also eliminate the need for water supply or sewage lines. All you need is a power supply (usually electricity, but there are also propane- and natural gas-powered units) and a vent pipe running to the exterior.

With an incineration toilet you could literally turn a closet into a powder room and, since there is no plumbing required, you won’t need a building permit to install one.

Tankless water heaters

With the high cost of electricity and real estate, most Europeans heat their water with a tankless boiler, instead of a hot water tank, which basically amounts to a giant tea kettle running off and on around the clock.

There are pros and cons to each option; the biggest con against tankless heaters being the extra cost upfront. You may recoup the costs on energy savings but that’s over the very long term. The main reasons to consider a tankless water heater is the endless supply of hot water, and for the fact that the smaller, wall-mounted unit allows you to maximize living space if you’re renovating a basement.

One warning though: tankless boilers are still relatively rare in Canadian homes, and not a lot of guys know how to properly service them. You’ll want to find a reliable technician who’s familiar with the model you have.

Lightning protection

Considering how much we spend on our homes and cottages, it’s kind of surprising how little we spend on protecting them. We all have smoke detectors. But how many of us have fire extinguishers – and know where they are and how to use them?

Even fewer property owners would be able to say they have a lightning protection system. I had to look this up but, apparently, about 100 lightning bolts strike the surface of the Earth every second. That works out to about three billion strikes a year!

Many European jurisdictions regulate lightning protection in their building codes, which makes sense in densely packed urban areas where one strike can affect numerous homes and residents.

A full lightning protection system may not make cost-effective sense for every home in Ontario, but if you have a rural home, or cottage on a high point of land – or where it’s the tallest structure in the immediate area – you really should consider the investment in your safety and security.

CAPTION: Photography courtesy of Margaret Mulligan

Jim Caruk, Renovation Editor

We look forward to hearing from you and welcome your feedback. Do you have a reno or decor question for our team of experts?

Email editorial@renoanddecor.com


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