Archive for the 'Energy efficient' Category

November 30th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

In the past the house with the biggest brightest display was coveted as ‘best’. Just think of Sparky Griswald’s quest in Christmas Vacation. Times have changed but your enjoyment of the season does not have to. You can enjoy all of the holiday cheer without increasing the load on your local power company or your wallet.


Do you know how effective LED lights are?

Indoor LED lights for tree and decoration


LED (Light Emitting Diode) Christmas lights use up to 95% less energy than their large traditional counterparts and last up to 100,000 hours when used indoors. Over a 30-day period, lighting 500 traditional holiday lights will cost a fraction of their incandescent alternatives plus if one of the LED bulbs burn out, the rest of the strand will stay lit.

Power Savings on outdoor lights

Similar to the lower energy use of indoor LED lights, you have all of the energy savings on outdoor lights or, even better yet, consider the new solar LED outdoor light options that are now available.

Finally, what to do with your old incandescent light strings?


Source: via Drummond on Pinterest


Many retailers have special trade-in promotions to convert to LED lighting or your local recycle depot may help divert your defunct lights from the landfill.

That’s all for me for now… Now I must string a few more lights to catch up with the Griswalds next door…

October 15th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

Sure, we’re called the “water planet,” but remarkably little of the blue stuff — less than 1 percent — is available to us as potential drinking water. The rest is tied up in saltwater, ice caps and other less-accessible sources. That scarcity isn’t obvious to most of us in the industrialized world, where water is cheap and easy to find, but there are a billion others who aren’t as lucky. And our time of easy water may be waning too, with the U.S. Government Accountability Office predicting water shortages in 36 states by 2013.

Being water wise can cut your utility bills, reduce the need for costly investments in water treatment and delivery systems, and contribute to a more sustainable water future. The bathroom is the place to start since it’s the water hog in your home, accounting for more than half of the indoor water you use. Check out these water-wise plumbing fixtures that don’t compromise style or function. 

September 27th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

This simple system for recovering heat from wastewater makes a lot of sense—especially for families and commercial buildings that produce a lot of hot water.

Power-Pipe drainline heat exchanger. Heat from the hot water going down the drain pipe is transferred to water passing through the smaller-diameter pipes.
Photo Credit: RenewABILITY Energy

The unfortunate reality is that even with the most efficient methods of generating hot water, we still lose the vast majority of that heat down the drain. Domestic hot water is a once-through product. I’ve seen estimates that 90% of the heat in hot water is lost down the drain. Dan Cautley, an energy engineer with the Energy Center of Wisconsin, says that drain water “may be one of our largest untapped resources.”

It turns out that we can do something about that. Im the right application, drainline heat exchangers allow a significant portion of the heat from hot water going down the drain to be recovered.

How a drainline heat exchanger works

The process is pretty simple. A special section of copper drainpipe is installed beneath a shower (typically the largest hot water use in a home) or other hot wastewater source. This section of drainpipe has smaller-diameter copper piping wrapped tightly around it. The cold-water supply pipe leading into the water heater is diverted so that it flows through the small-diameter copper pipe.

When hot water is being pulled from the water heater to supply the shower, the water going into the water heater is preheated by the wastewater going down the shower drain. If it’s a tankless—rather than storage—water heater, the incoming water temperature will be higher, so less energy will be required to get it up to the needed delivery temperature—thus saving energy (though the tankless water heater has to be thermostatically controlled and, thus, able to deal with inlet water of varying temperature.

The man who invented the drainwater heater exchanger, Carmine Vasile, called the product a GFX, for “gravity-film exchange,” recognizing that water going down a vertical pipe forms a film that clings to the inner walls of the pipe where the heat can effectively be transferred through the copper to the supply water.

Read full article to learn about different models of drainline heat exchangers…

September 12th, 2012
By Deb Villeneuve


Delays of 2 to 4 additional days for the receipt of house plans purchased in Quebec (Canada) in order to update the plans to meet new codes in effect will not affect clients elsewhere as these changes are exclusive to the province.

In order to upgrade the environmental efficiency of new home constructions in the group C class which is 3 storeys or less and 600 sq. m. (6,460 sq. ft.) maximum, revisions to the Quebec Building Code came into effect as of August 31st 2012.

Builders and designers of house plans must adhere to the new law and even do it yourself owners who are planning a new build or a renovation which enlarges an existing building have no choice but to conform to the new code if…

 The building permit is requested after August 30th 2012


The build will start after November 28th 2012

  If your permit was requested prior to the August deadline and  the build will start before the November deadline, your project does not need to meet the new energy efficiency criteria.

Although it has not yet been translated into English, you can access the RBQ site, on which all of the technical details are available, through this link

At the time of publication of this blog, the only pertinent thing that I found in English at

was the following

 ”R.S.Q., chapter E-1.1


 This Act has been replaced since 30 August 2012 by the Building Act (chapter B-1.1) in respect of buildings and facilities intended for use by the public to which Part 11 of the Code adopted by Chapter I of the Construction Code (R.R.Q., c. B-1.1, r. 2) applies. (Order in Council 857-2012 dated 1 August 2012, (2012) 144 G.O. 2, 2613).”

 A brief résumé of Part 11 Ch.B-1.1 of the Quebec Building Act  at

states that the changes are to ensure an improvement of 20% to 25% over the previous criteria in the air tightness of the construction to inhibit the loss of heat through openings to the outside.


The maximal space for windows, doors and other elements which lead to the outside of the dwelling are subject to a limit of 30% of the surface area of the walls above the ground in the new construction code.

  This enhanced air tightness will necessitate the installation of an appropriate air exchanger in order to prevent excessive condensation within the walls, floors and attic. There is however no detailed specification with regards to how much air circulation is required per hour.

  These changes will inevitably have an impact on building costs but the RBQ estimates that these costs will be recovered in the 3 to 4 years following the build, after which the homeowner  will continue to benefit from substantial reductions in energy consumption costs.

Ensure that the contractor you hire is up to code and has taken the appropriate courses through the A.P.C.H.Q. and the R.B.Q. to ensure that your home will pass post build inspection.

You can rest assured that plans purchased from Drummond House Plans will conform to the new building codes. If purchasing plans from another source you will need to perform due dilligence in order to avoid unpleasant surprises later.


September 5th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

Abundant natural light in a home not only saves electrical energy, but it gives you more personal energy too. In a normal building, lighting comprises 25 to 40 percent of your energy consumption (and energy bill), says an architecture professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This is one good reason to incorporate clerestories, tubular daylighting devices and more windows.

Another reason to get more light is because of the positive effect that natural light has on well-being. I can speak from some personal experience: After moving from an apartment with a bedroom that was dark all the time to an apartment with three windows that get morning sun, I can tell you that I am more rested, more ready to get up in the morning and more cheerful throughout the day. 

Medical professionals are only at the beginning of this research, but so far, it looks like natural light can benefit homeowners in many rooms by reducing seasonal dips in mood, promoting healing, increasing productivity and more.

Follow the slideshow below for tips on how to add natural light to all of your rooms…

August 6th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

Net Zero is a term that’s been tossed around for a few years. As with all green building concepts in this economy, it is being shelved until the industry picks back up. I think it’s worth studying and implementing once that happens. 


The US Department of Energy defines Net Zero as a house that is 60-70% more energy efficient than a model home, and the remaining 30-40% of energy is created with renewables, such as solar, wind, and geothermal, to bring the energy use to zero.

A net zero home can be on-grid (net metered) or off-grid. Earthships are net zero homes. They create all their own power as well as harvest their own water and deal with their own waste products. This is truly net zero, but probably not suitable for the average homeowner.

For more information about building a net zero home, read the full article here…

July 12th, 2012
By Deb Villeneuve

ICF (Insulated Concrete Forms) is a way of building that is more and more popular due to its enhanced energy efficiency and  durability. This method of integrating insulation and structure has been increasingly popular for foundations but there are now versions available with which the walls too can be built using the same technology.

Along with the inherent energy savings, a home built with ICF walls has increased wind resistance and  up to three times the sound proofing from exterior noises that traditional wood construction can offer. These advantages may help justify the increased building costs of  approximately 2% to 5% over traditional methods.

It starts with a hollow, polystyrene bloc within which a plastic web and rebar, preferably epoxy coated for rust resistance, are installed in the center. These blocks are assembled on site to make the outline of the floor plan and resemble a giant set of Lego blocks once put together.

Most insulated concrete forms use non-toxic expanded polystyrene for which there is no danger of out gassing within your home. The air and water tight seal can even help to create a healthier environment as it prevents mould caused by water infiltration and keeps outdoor allergens from entereing.

After the blocks are assembled, the concrete is poured into the empty space creating a solid envelope for the building. The electrician and the plumber use a hot knife to cut the channels directly in the polystyrene.

Some insulated concrete forms can accomplish the work of several layers of structural materials which permits installation of the gyproc on the inside and the siding on the outside directly on the insulated form.

by clicking on this link to U tube you will see demonstrations of installation techniques


Floors and ceilings are usually made of wood but there are manufacturers who offer products made of the same material as the insulation of their ICFs.

What is important to remember is that not all ICFs are the same and the manufacturers of these products train contractors, either at their plant or by offering on site supervision for the first build. The best way to find a qualified contractor is through the manufacturer of the product that interests you.

Many municipalities have adapted their codes for this kind of construction but if this isn’t the case, some manufacturers will offer technical support to work with your particular municipality in order to help them to develop the codes required.


At Drummond House Plans, we can modify the plan of your choice for ICF, either at the foundation level or for whole wall construction and our design team can even help you with this option for your renovation project.

June 19th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

If you can’t save your historic windows, then it’s time to find energy-efficient replacements. And selecting new windows involves industry knowledge. It’s important to have a grasp of the alphabet soup: U-factor, SHGC, air leakage, VT and LSG. Then, after you understand all the different rating systems, you can choose windows based on your climate and the requirements for your house.

But who rates these things anyway? Can you depend on the manufacturer to be truthful? Just like food labels are monitored by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, window labels are certified by the National Fenestration Rating Council. And all Energy Star windows should have an NFRC label. (Note, though, that Energy Star bases its ratings only on U-factor and SHGC, which are explained below.) Windows that don’t have the Energy Star label may or may not be rated; then it’s time to check with the manufacturer.

Read on to learn what all the acronyms mean!

(Note: This article is in reference to American standards. While the fundamentals remain the same, Canadian readers are advised to utilize the information as provided on the Fenestration Canada (formerly CWDMA) website.

June 7th, 2012
By Deb Villeneuve
Our guest contributor, Brian MacMillan from Denver and Bouulder Real Estate has generously offered to share this insightful blog with our readers, I hope that it is helpful
MAY 14, 2012   BRIAN

Energy Efficient HomeSaving the environment is one thing, but did you know you can also save money by converting to an energy-efficient home? Read our top 10 reasons to go green.

By buying or building an energy- efficient home, you can reap scores of benefits. And most of them–are you paying attention?–have to do with saving you money. Generally speaking, switching to energy efficiency can save you thousands of dollars every single year.

But there are many other reasons to choose one of these progressive homes aside from money. Take a look below for the top ten reasons to buy or build an energy-efficient house.

Energy Efficiency Reason #1 | The Environment

The number one reason, of course, to build or buy an energy-efficient home is the preservation of our natural world. It has been estimated that no less than 16% of greenhouse gases come from houses–a number that can be drastically reduced through the creation of more energy-efficient homes.

Energy Efficiency Reason #2 | Tax Credits

No one likes spending a lot of money. But did you know that there’s a tax credit available for people who live in energy-efficient homes? You can save the environment and your money at the same time!

Energy Efficiency Reason #3 | Resale Value

These days, energy efficiency is what every new home buyer is looking for. By upgrading the design of your house, you can raise its value and be sure you’ll get a lot more back when, or if, you decide to sell.

Energy Efficiency Reason #4 | Low Ownership Cost

Speaking in general, it costs much less to maintain an energy-efficient home than an older, more environmentally-abusive one. If you like to save money wherever you can, think about making the investment in energy efficiency.

Energy Efficiency Reason #5 | Low Building Cost

Construction of energy-efficient homes is much less costly than the building of other structures. Materials are cheaper, plans are more simple, and fewer construction experts are required. Building with energy efficiency in mind is a great way to save money up front.

Energy Efficiency Reason #6 | Low Utility Cost

Heating, cooling, electricity, gas, and water–every one of these utilities can have their monthly bills reduced by upgrading your abode to an energy-efficient design. This can potentially save you thousands of dollars every year.

Energy Efficiency Reason #7 | Less Maintenance

Energy-efficient homes require much less upkeep than older structures. This means you won’t have to call in the handyman, the plumber, or the electrician nearly as often as you would otherwise, thus saving yourself a good deal of money.

Energy Efficiency Reason #8 | Mortgage Incentives

Some banks offer incentives on their mortgage rates for people who live in energy-efficient homes. This is just one of the many, many ways in which you can grow your savings by living in a more efficient home.

Energy Efficiency Reason #9 | Comfort

None of us are big fans of cold breezes, hot rooms, and encroaching moisture. Well, with an energy-efficient house, you can dismiss those things as pests of the past. These houses are simply far more comfortable than their predecessors.

Energy Efficiency Reason #10 | Peaceful

Aside from errant breezes and hot spots, an energy-efficient home also helps prevent those “settling” noises houses usually make. Creaks, groans, shrieks, and squeals may end up being things of the past with the introduction of energy efficiency…unless, of course, your house is haunted.


March 7th, 2012
By Vivian Martin

With Daylight Savings time approaching on March 11, it is a good time to reflect on light in the home. Realtors will attest to the value of a bright and welcoming home. Do you have any idea why the extra hour of daylight lifts our moods?

Solatube has provided 11 facts about daylighting that can help everyone appreciate an extra hour of daylight:

  1. Daylighting provides energy usage reduction during the most important time of day, peak hours, when energy rates are the highest and daylight availability is the greatest.
  2. Integrating daylight into home designs can slash interior lighting costs by up to 80%.
  3. Daylight is a great source of vital Vitamin D; just 20 minutes of daylight has the same Vitamin D as 200 glasses of milk.
  4. Tubular Daylighting Devices can bring daylight into dark spaces into homes and businesses, and can be easily installed in about two hours without the hassle and expense of reframing.
  5. A 2003 study of office worker productivity found that exposure to daylight was consistently linked with higher levels of concentration and better short-term memory.
  6. According to the Wisconsin-based Daylighting Collaborative, about 86% of electricity in traditional buildings is used for light, fans and cooling. A daylighting project can cut these costs by more than 50% by reducing electric lighting, because daylight produces less heat per unit of illumination than most light sources.
  7. Daylight provides the truest and most vivid color rendition of all available light sources.
  8. The Solatube 160 DS, a 10-inch tubular daylighting device designed for the home, can provide the equivalent of three, 100-watt incandescent light bulbs during the peak hours of the day without adding heat or glare to the room.
  9. Studies in Canada and Sweden noted improved student behavior and health, including fewer days of absences per year, in daylit classrooms.
  10. The new NAHB Green Home Building guidelines specifically recommend that Tubular Daylighting Devices be installed in rooms without windows.
  11. Skylights are cited as the number one option in “dream bathroom” designs.

Daylighting systems (i.e. windows, skylights, Tubular Daylight Devices, etc.)  are not only eco-friendly, but they provide exceptional lighting and have even been proven to boost morale and productivity (among many other benefits). By using a renewable resource, daylighting systems are able to harness the sun’s rays and help build a sustainable future.  

Remember to set your clocks forward on March 11 and enjoy the extra hour of daylight!


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