Earth Day: go­ing green the right way

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - By Mike Holmes

EARTH Day is April 22, and it’s a good re­minder for all of us to make greener choices to help save en­ergy — which means more money in your pocket — re­duce waste and have bet­ter, health­ier homes. Be­cause that’s what it’s about — go­ing green but be­ing smart. I’ve seen many so-called “green” prod­ucts that end up cre­at­ing all this ex­tra waste be­cause they don’t work. But I’ve also seen many great, durable prod­ucts that pro­tect our homes, so we don’t waste ma­te­ri­als and in­crease our com­fort. One ex­am­ple is Sch­luter’s DITRAHEAT floor-warm­ing sys­tem. It protects the in­tegrity of your tiles, so they don’t crack and need to be re­placed, protects your floor against mois­ture and mould, and has heat­ing ca­bles so your feet feel warm and toasty in the morn­ing us­ing min­i­mal en­ergy — all pluses. Bet­ter con­struc­tion is green. When we im­prove the build­ing en­ve­lope — win­dows, in­su­la­tion, roof, foun­da­tion and ex­te­rior sid­ing — we make our homes more weather re­sis­tant and en­ergy ef­fi­cient. When things last longer and we don’t have to throw them away and re­place them with new ma­te­ri­als, we keep garbage out of land­fills and use min­i­mal en­ergy. There are plenty of changes that most home­own­ers can do to make their homes more green, for ex­am­ple switch­ing to LEDs and us­ing so­lar­pow­ered out­door lights. If you’re re­plac­ing your roof you can get old as­phalt shin­gles re­cy­cled and then go for metal, if you can af­ford it. A metal roof will last a min­i­mum of 50 years; it’s fire-re­sis­tant, helps you save loads in heat­ing costs and looks good too. (Some metal-roof prod­ucts look like regular as­phalt shin­gles.) You can also use land­scap­ing to help block out heat in the sum­mer and cold in the win­ter. You can in­stall awnings, which act like vi­sors for your home. In some en­vi­ron­ments they can re­duce heat gain by about 55 to 77 per cent and save home­own­ers as much as 25 per cent on en­ergy bills. Then there’s the big stuff all homes are even­tu­ally mov­ing to­ward, such as us­ing geo­ther­mal en­ergy — or the earth’s nat­u­ral tem­per­a­ture — to help heat our homes and do­mes­tic wa­ter. We could also use grey­wa­ter or rain­wa­ter to wash cars and wa­ter lawns, use so­lar en­ergy to power our homes and so­lar lights to light them, or add a green roof to help man­age storm wa­ter and in­crease in­su­la­tion. But th­ese big­ger changes that af­fect struc­ture and the me­chan­ics of the home and re­quire in­cor­po­rat­ing new in­no­va­tive sys­tems are more dif­fi­cult for home­own­ers to do to­day, ei­ther be­cause it’s be­yond their bud­get or it’s too dif­fi­cult to mod­ify their homes to ac­com­mo­date those changes. That’s why for big­ger, greener changes we need it to come from the top down — from the in­dus­try (whether it’s a builder, ren­o­va­tor, ar­chi­tect or con­trac­tor) to the home­owner. That might mean more builders of­fer­ing “green” home packages, where ev­ery­thing that makes the house more durable and en­ergy ef­fi­cient is planned out and de­vel­oped be­fore the first shovel hits the dirt. Ren­o­va­tors can spe­cial­ize in “green” ren­o­va­tions, where they take a house that might have been built 30 or 50 years ago and up­date it with all the lat­est sys­tems so it uses min­i­mal en­ergy. This is where en­ergy-ef­fi­ciency home in­spec­tions can also re­ally make a dif­fer­ence, be­cause they can help iden­tify all the spots in your home that are los­ing en­ergy — and money. Th­ese types of in­spec­tions in­clude tests like the blower door test or ther­mal imag­ing to find heat loss. Most home­own­ers I talk to want a home that’s en­ergy ef­fi­cient and healthy. If you told them they could power their home with a re­li­able and clean source of en­ergy for just a frac­tion of what it costs them now, they would be on board. But th­ese changes have to make sense, fi­nan­cially, en­vi­ron­men­tally and con­struc­tion wise. They also need to be ac­ces­si­ble to the av­er­age home­owner if we want to re­ally make a change, make it right and make it count.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Canada

© PressReader. All rights reserved.