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Archive for the 'Energy Efficiency Rating' Category

December 8th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable. 

A heat pump is an electrical device that extracts heat from one place and transfers it to another. The heat pump is not a new technology; it has been used in Canada and around the world for decades. Refrigerators and air conditioners are both common examples of this technology.

Heat pumps transfer heat by circulating a substance called a refrigerant through a cycle of evaporation and condensation (see graphic above). A compressor pumps the refrigerant between two heat exchanger coils. In one coil, the refrigerant is evaporated at low pressure and absorbs heat from its surroundings. The refrigerant is then compressed en route to the other coil, where it condenses at high pressure. At this point, it releases the heat it absorbed earlier in the cycle.

Refrigerators and air conditioners are both examples of heat pumps operating only in the cooling mode. A refrigerator is essentially an insulated box with a heat pump system connected to it. The evaporator coil is located inside the box, usually in the freezer compartment. Heat is absorbed from this location and transferred outside, usually behind or underneath the unit where the condenser coil is located. Similarly, an air conditioner transfers heat from inside a house to the outdoors.

The heat pump cycle is fully reversible, and heat pumps can provide year-round climate control for your home – heating in winter and cooling and dehumidifying in summer. Since the ground and air outside always contain some heat, a heat pump can supply heat to a house even on cold winter days. In fact, air at –18°C contains about 85 percent of the heat it contained at 21°C.

Now that we have you saying “huh?” like I did, you probably want to learn more.

If you are exploring the heating and cooling options for a new house or looking for ways to reduce your energy bills, you may be considering a heat pump. A heat pump can provide year-round climate control for your home by supplying heat to it in the winter and cooling it in the summer. Some types can also heat water.

In general, using a heat pump alone to meet all your heating needs may not be economical. However, used in conjunction with a supplementary form of heating, such as an oil, gas or electric furnace, a heat pump can provide reliable and economic heating in winter and cooling in summer. If you already have an oil or electric heating system, installing a heat pump may be an effective way to reduce your energy costs.

Nevertheless, it is important to consider all the benefits and costs before purchasing a heat pump. While heat pumps may have lower fuel costs than conventional heating and cooling systems, they are more expensive to buy. It is important to carefully weigh your anticipated fuel savings against the initial cost. It is also important to realize that heat pumps will be most economical when used year-round. Investing in a heat pump will make more sense if you are interested in both summer cooling and winter heating.

In addition to looking at cost, you should consider other factors. How much space will the equipment require? Will your supply of energy be interrupted on occasion? If so, how often? Will you need changes or improvements to your ducting system? How much servicing will the system need, and what will it cost?

Becoming fully informed about all aspects of home heating and cooling before making your final decision is the key to making the right choice. The Natural Resources Canada Office of Energy Efficiency website offers additional information on what heat pumps are and other variables to consider. Follow this link for additional information.

Do you homework and your shopping and you should find a system that best suits your needs. Also, remember to see if you are eligible for any grants or incentives on a federal, provincial or local level.

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to theDrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.

November 3rd, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable. 

How leaky is your house? The only way to know whether your home is leaky or tight is to measure its air leakage rate with a blower door. By measuring the airflow of a fan that depressurizes a house to a standard pressure difference, a technician can determine just how leaky your home is. The photo shows a Minneapolis blower door from The Energy Conservatory.

Leaky homes are hard to heat and hard to cool. The only way to know whether your home is leaky or tight is to measure its air leakage rate with a blower door. A blower door is a tool that depressurizes a house; this depressurization exaggerates the home’s air leaks, making the leaks easier to measure and locate.

An energy-efficient house must be as airtight as possible. Many older U.S. homes are so leaky that a third to a half of the home’s heat loss comes from air leaks.

There is no such thing as a house that is too tight. However, it’s also true that there is no such a thing as an airtight house. Every house leaks, and that’s why we perform blower-door tests — to measure a building’s leakage rate.

Who needs a blower door?
Blower-door testing is useful for both new construction and existing homes. By testing a new home, a builder:

  • Can determine whether a certain airtightness target — for example, the Passivhaus airtightness standard — has been met;
  • Can document airtightness levels needed to qualify for certain home labeling programs, including Energy Star;
  • Can do a better job calculating heat loss and heat gain the next time he or she builds a similar house;
  • Can brag about the home’s airtightness to prospective homebuyers or drinking buddies.

If you’re building a new home, the best time to conduct a blower-door test is after the home is insulated but before the drywall is hung. If the test reveals major problems, the leaks will be easier to fix at that point than later on.

Want to learn more about the origin of the blower door test and where leaks are typically found? Read the full article here…

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to theDrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.


October 27th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable. 

Choosing an energy-efficient upgrade to your home includes decisions of conscience and return on investment. This handy graphic illustrates some optional upgrades, the cost of installation and potential energy savings.

(Click on graphic to enlarge)

Home Solar Power Discounts – One Block Off the Grid

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to theDrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.


September 15th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable.

Did you know that up to 25% of a home’s energy is lost through windows, doors and skylights?

Fenestration Canada (formerly the Canadian Window and Door Manufacturers Association) has a mission to represent and support all aspects of the window and door manufacturing industry, including formulating and promoting high standards of quality in manufacturing, design, marketing, distribution, sales and application of all types of window and door products.

The window business is changing. Over the past few years, the number of window options and technologies available to consumers has greatly increased. Furthermore, window standards are being updated and energy codes are being adopted. The Sill to Sash video explains the latest window developments, the use of standards and certification, and shows how you can use this information to buy the right products.

Click image above to enter

Video topics include:

  • Window Terminology
  • Modes of Window Heat loss 
  • Window technology
  • Standards, ratings, and certification
  • Window Condensation and How to Avoid It
  • Benefits of Properly Installed Energy-Efficient Windows and Doors
  • How to buy Energy-Efficient Windows

The video will show the why, what and how of buying and installing energy efficient products.

Sill to Sash is sponsored by the Federal Government Climate Change Action Fund, the Siding and Window Dealers Association of Canada, and the Fenestration Canada.

For more information contact CWDMA.

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.

August 18th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable.

When you are looking at a new home or a home retrofit, you should be aware that the banking industry is tuning into green living. Many now offer “green or eco-mortgages,” which offer home buyers a discounted interest rate or other incentives to buy more energy-efficient houses or upgrades to reduce their carbon footprint.

According to surveys conducted by Leger Marketing, the Canadian “green conscience” is not entirely focused on lessening their impact on the environment. The decision to buy a “green home” is more often driven by the return on investment… saving green. In fact, more than 59 per cent of respondents cite financial savings as the main reason for making eco-friendly upgrades and purchases. This is not surprising, given that 51 per cent of survey respondents say utility costs are the biggest financial surprise when it comes to owning a home. According to Leger, 92 per cent of Canadian respondents recognize the cost advantages of energy efficient home upgrades.

An additional finding is that nearly half of all home buyers plan to invest in energy efficient upgrades in the next year, and this was before the official announcement of the extension of the federal government’s ecoENERGY Retrofit program (allowing for tax credits on a portion of their energy efficiency upgrades).

While almost all of Canada’s big banks have some form of green or eco-mortgages or loans, they aren’t open to just anyone. The home or upgrade must qualify by meeting certain green standards. Conditions of the preferred financing may require an energy audit or recognized third party certification.

Below is a list of a few of the offerings on tap (subject to change at the lender’s discretion):

RBC Energy Saver Mortgage

  • Receive a $300 rebate on a home energy audit
  • Special discounted rates

TD Canada Trust Green Mortgage

  • Offers customers one per cent off the posted interest rate on a five-year, fixed-rate mortgage or 5-year fixed rate portion of a Home Equity Line of Credit
  • Up to one per cent rebate of the amount of the mortgage when home buyers make Energy Star qualified appliance purchases and home upgrades or purchase CSA approved solar panels
  • TD will also donate $100 to the TD Friends of the Environment Foundation charity

BMO Eco Smart Mortgage

  • Offers buyers of green properties a special interest rates on their mortgage
  • In order to qualify for the BMO Eco Smart Mortgage, the home must meet certain requirements as confirmed by a third party appraiser (or energy auditor) arranged by BMO.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC) incentive

  • If a person uses CMHC insured financing to buy an energy-efficient home or purchases a house and makes energy-saving renovations to make it more energy efficient, a 10 per cent rebate on the mortgage loan insurance premium may be available.

Special Tip: Mortgage Brokers could be a great information source for which lender has the sweetest deal. Make sure you shop around!

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.

July 21st, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable.

A Passivhaus (or Passive House) takes into account the free heat gained from the sun and “internal heat gains” from people and appliances. It is a very well-insulated, virtually air-tight building. Avoidance of heat gain through shading and window orientation also helps to limit any cooling load. A Passive House is a comprehensive system. Working with natural resources, free solar energy is captured and applied efficiently, instead of relying predominantly on ‘active’ systems to bring a building to ‘zero’ energy. High performance triple-glazed windows, super-insulation, an airtight building envelope, limitation of thermal bridging and balanced energy recovery ventilation make possible extraordinary reductions in energy use and carbon emission.

The Passive House System was developed in Germany, where it is called “Passivhaus”, in 1996 by physicist Wolfgang Feist. Feist was influenced by the groundbreaking, superinsulated houses that were built in the US and Canada in the 1970′s. His cause was championed by German born Katrin Klingenberg, who founded PHIUS – Passive House Institute United States.

(excerpt from Build Direct – Green Blog…) 

 

Benefits of passivhaus building

Improved indoor air quality

Increased physical comfort

90% energy reduction

Minimal conventional heating system

Suitable for retrofits

Affordable

The point of passivhaus construction is to minimize energy loss by restricting airflow into and out of the building. The building stays warm in winter and cool in summer. Style does not matter, as long as the efficiency and air circulation goals are achieved.

The envelope is super-insulated, up to 16″ beneath the slab and in exterior walls (R 60-70). Strawbale, SIPs and ICFs (insulated concrete forms) or Rastra are suitable. Ceiling insulation of dense-pack fiberglass, cellulose or spray foam has an R-value anywhere between R 60-100.
The triple-glazed windows have a very low U-factor of 0.14. Some in Germany are as low as 0.17. The U-factor rating of the National Fenestration Rating Council (NFRC): the lower the number, the more efficient the window, based on the glass, frame and spacer material.
Thermal bridging is essentially eliminated. A blower door test is run several times during construction to test for air leakage before the building is completely closed up and finished.
A heat recovery ventilator (HRV) keeps indoor air fresh, exchanging indoor air with outdoor air with minimal heat loss.

For the full BuildDirect Green Blog article and additional links, click here…

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.

July 13th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

The Canadian Newswires are abuzz today with the announcement of the renewal of the ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes program.

The CHBA press-released the following:

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) today applauded Natural Resources Minister Joe Oliver on the announced details of a renewed ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program.

CHBA President Vince Laberge of Edmonton said: “This announcement will be well received by both our industry and Canadian households. It means that homeowners can begin the process of making their homes more energy efficient, right away.”

The program is complemented by the government’s on-going support for the R-2000 initiative, the EnerGuide Rating System and ENERGY STAR for New Homes.

By requiring written receipts for expenses eligible for a grant, the ecoENERGY Retrofit – Homes program has the added benefit of encouraging people to work with professional renovators. This will bolster the government’s efforts to combat the underground cash economy in home renovation services.

“The renewal of the ecoENERGY Retrofit program will help to enhance the quality of our country’s housing stock, particularly in terms of its environmental performance,” Mr. Laberge said. “The residential sector is already a leader in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and this federal government commitment will help homeowners achieve even more.  Improved energy efficiency saves homeowners money, and it helps Canada meet its environmental goals.”

The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) is the national voice of the residential construction industry, representing more than 8,000 member firms across the country.  Membership comprises new home builders, renovators, developers, trade contractors, building material manufacturers and suppliers, lenders and other professionals in the housing sector.

(Original and related articles here…)

For information on how to enroll your home for the ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes program, visit the NRCan website here.

*Author’s note… given the success of the last program, and knowing that there is a finite amount of funding, I would suggest opting in to this program sooner than later to avoid disappointment.

Due the to impact of this article, this post in the “Energy Efficiency Series” is being posted early. Next week, we will be back to posting on Thursday.

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.

June 23rd, 2011
By Vivian Martin

In our energy efficiency series of articles featured each Thursday, we provide strategies or information on how to make your new home energy efficient and comfortable.

ENERGY STAR® for New Homes, like ENERGY STAR® for appliances and electrical fixtures, is a performance based ranking system. ENERGY STAR® for New Homes is an initiative to promote energy efficient home building backed by Natural Resources Canada and supported by progressive builders interested in offering a more energy efficient house to their customers.

Performance tested, third party verified and government backed – the ENERGY STAR® for New Homes label is your assurance that your new home is built to exacting, energy efficient guidelines.

ENERGY STAR® for New Homes mandate is really very simple: To stimulate the construction of better built, more energy efficient homes in Ontario, resulting in daily savings for homeowners and significant environmental benefits.

Earning The ENERGY STAR® for New Homes Label

To achieve ENERGY STAR® for New Homes status, builders select from an array of possible improvements (for instance, achieving an acceptable R-value for your home’s insulation, can be achieved using a number of different techniques). Homes can earn the ENERGY STAR® for New Homes label only after a neutral/3rd party verification. Independent Home Energy Evaluators conduct on-site testing and inspections to verify that the homes qualify.

Invisible to the naked eye, most ENERGY STAR improvements are hidden ‘under the skin’ of your new home. The specifications that have to be met to earn the ENERGY STAR® for New Homes label fall into two main categories – 1) improvements to the envelope and 2) better mechanical systems.

An ENERGY STAR® New Home features state of the art:

Building Envelope (Walls, insulation, roofing, windows and doors. A ‘tighter’ envelop yields a more comfortable more energy efficient structure.)

Effective Insulation

High-Performance Windows (utilizing protective coatings, gas between panes, improved frame assemblies and more)

Tight Construction and Ducts (minimizing air leakage through unseen openings).

The Mechanicals…(Better and more energy efficient appliances, lighting and heating, air conditioning and ventilation)

HVACHeating Ventilation and Cooling (High efficiency furnaces and air conditioners coupled with an HRV (Heat Recovery Ventilator found in many ENERGY STAR® qualified homes) unit and a modern water heater do an amazing job of reducing energy waste from your home’s biggest energy consumer. Whether it’s fuel (gas, oil) or electric, you are probably using more energy heating and cooling than anywhere else in your life.

Lighting and Appliances (ENERGY STAR® qualified homes would also normally be equipped with ENERGY STAR® qualified products — lighting fixtures, compact fluorescent bulbs, ventilation fans, and appliances, such as refrigerators, dish washers, and washing machines. These ENERGY STAR® qualified products provide additional energy savings to the homeowner (while also helping the home earn its ENERGY STAR® for New Homes label).

For more information about ENERGY STAR® qualified new homes, visit the ENERGY STAR® New Homes website or the OEE (Office of Energy Efficiency) of NRCAN (Natural Resources Canada).

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient.

May 19th, 2011
By Vivian Martin

Two Builders Discuss the Future of Eco-Friendly Construction

We have, in part, the energy crisis of the 1970s to thank for many of the green building practices currently in our collective toolboxes. Certainly the 1970s can be credited with supplying the motivation to find ways of reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

Today we’re seeing builders, designers, and manufacturers across Canada take green to a new level. In fact, it could even be said that we’re at the beginning of an eco-friendly construction movement, one that goes beyond energy efficiency within the building envelope to incorporate features such as solar panels, geothermal, water conservation and renewable materials — all while reducing the amount of building materials going into landfill.

There are also a number of green building programs available, among them such industry standards as R-2000, Built Green, LEED for Homes and ENERGY STAR for New Homes. But any ‘green’ builder will tell you it’s not just about the program. Rather, it’s a philosophy that permeates all aspects of their business.

We asked two finalists of the 2010 SAM Green Home Award to share their thoughts on eco-friendly construction. Representing Russell, Ontario, a small community southeast of Ottawa, is second-generation, small volume home builder, John Corvinelli, president and owner of Corvinelli Homes Ltd. Representing Garibaldi Highlands, British Columbia, a community just north of Squamish alongside the Sea to Sky Highway, is Richard Lutz AIOC, president of Alpine Timberframe & Design, a custom home builder and supplier/fabricator of timber structures.

Demographically, the age of a home buyer has not proven to be a deciding factor in buying green; rather, it comes down to the need to facilitate the education, promotion and informational aspects of energy efficient homes to the general public.

“When clients enter the market to purchase a new home, they tend to first look at just the monetary part of the home and use that as a price point comparison,” Corvinelli said. “One challenge is that many Energy Star features are hidden within the envelope of the home, and may not be visible to the naked eye. However, once a client comes into the office, we are able to educate them that while a green home can be slightly more expensive at the outset, the price will be offset by ongoing lower operating costs.”

Another solution is to offer clients energy efficient options. “We provide our clients with simple choices in regards to environmental impact, sustainability, energy efficiency and their relative costs throughout the design and construction of the home,” Lutz said. “They are then able to make educated choices based on their wishes and budget. We do, however, always use products such as low VOC paints and finishes and formaldehyde free products wherever possible. There are so many little things we as builders can do that do not cost any more. Many tout these as green products, but they should actually just be common good practice.”

Continuing education, training and licensing at the builder level and within the trades are equally important. At Alpine Timberframe & Design, for example, employees participate in continuing education through the Built Green program, manufacturers’ workshops, and other initiatives. “When we conduct our own in-house blower door tests, we have our employees and the sub trades all involved by looking for air leakage,” Lutz said. “This turns into a bit of a ‘witch hunt’ and clearly demonstrates the importance of air sealing.”

The Future of Green

So what about the future of green, including legislation? “We simply cannot continue building homes the way we were with regard to energy efficiency and long term durability; the cost of a home to the average Canadian was simply crippling when you factor in heating/cooling costs and the short life expectancy of the building,” Lutz said. “I believe the government has a duty to legislate what many may seem as drastic changes to the building codes. However, with appropriate education it is quite achievable—there are many examples of properly trained, good builders across the country being proactive and taking many of these steps already without any difficulty. Much of this will also force product manufacturers into providing more sustainable and energy efficient products.” 

There’s no argument from Corvinelli, who further suggests that green homes should be a standard across Canada. “I strive to build more feasible sustainable green housing for the average homeowner at a budget-friendly cost, in all the homes I build. My ultimate goal is to construct every home to net-zero energy standards by implementing innovative, no maintenance, renewable energy technologies.”

(Article Source: Home Builder Magazine. Read original article here… )

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient. 

May 5th, 2011
By Vivian Martin
 

Registered Trademark of BuiltGreen Canada
 
Built Green™ promotes construction of buildings that are healthier for the occupants and healthier for the environment. Sustainable or “green” building practices can reduce the tremendous impact that building has on both people and nature.
▪    Better energy efficiency means comfort and long term savings for the homeowner.
▪    Healthier indoor air means comfort, better health and peace of mind for the family.
▪    Durable, reduced-maintenance materials mean a longer life for the home and long term savings.
▪    Preserving natural resources means leaving more for future generations to enjoy.
 
The homebuyer will know that their Built Green™ home represents their commitment to the environment, future generations and improving the way we live. Resource and environment-conscious homebuyers will look for Built Green™ certification when choosing their home.
A Built Green™ home certification offers participating builders an excellent way to distinguish themselves in the marketplace. Market research shows that consumers take environmental concerns and long-term energy costs into consideration when making purchasing decisions.  Builders can demonstrate their environmental leadership by participating in Built Green™ and produce a great home.
  
 To learn more about the Built Green™ home, visit the CHBA-BC website or BuiltGreenCanada.

 

Each Thursday, we will feature a blog entry about energy efficient new homes, covering a range of topics from building innovations to ratings systems to “score” your home’s efficiency. Subscribe to the DrummondHousePlans blog to make sure you get the latest news on how to make your new or renovated home energy efficient. 

 

Informing and educating the home-buying public on the value of a home that meets Built Green™ standards are one of the primary undertakings of the program. An informed buyer will recognize the value of greater energy efficiency, healthier indoor air, reduced water usage, and improved comfort.

Sustainable building practices go beyond energy and water conservation, resource efficient building materials and superior indoor environmental quality.

Some of the key benefits are:
▪    Lower electric and water utility costs
▪    Environmentally effective use of building materials
▪    Enhanced health and productivity
▪    Long-term economic returns
▪    Reduced environmental impact

 



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