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Home Renos to Make ‘Greener’ Homes

15 August 2012

So you’ve taken out a home renovation loan and you want to start doing all the things that need to be done to make your home ‘greener.’ Everyone knows the value of being friendlier to the environment, reducing energy used, and of course, saving a lot of money along the way. But with solar panels, energy-efficient windows, and appliances that seem to use hardly any energy, much less waist it, how is a homeowner supposed to know where to start? By following these tips:

  • Obtain a home-energy assessment from an independent certified home energy inspector. They will provide you with a report outlining where the most energy is being wasted in your home. This in turn, will tell you where you need to be focusing during the home renos.
  • Look for the ENERGY STAR certification on everything you buy during your home renos. This label can be found on appliances, windows, and many more things that help improve the ‘greenness’ of a home. If you’re unsure of whether ENERGY STAR provides certification for a particular item, just ask a salesperson at the store.
  • When taking down any walls or making changes to the exterior of the home, take the time to add insulation. This will help keep the house hot or cool, and will also be less wasteful, equaling ‘more green.’
  • Change all old light fixtures to use only compact fluorescent, LED, or halogen lights.
  • If any water appliances (water heater, plumbing fixtures, etc.) need to be replaced, make sure you look for the WaterSense symbol, which will let you know that you won’t be wasting water just by using them.
  • Use as many recycled materials as you can. Whether they’re going to be used for a new deck or insulation, using recycled materials is an often-overlooked part of making your home greener. And of course, always make sure you recycle as much of the waste as you can when completing your renovations, rather than throwing it in the garbage.
  • Buy local! While most people think this applies only to the groceries we buy, buying local during renovations cut down on the shipping time of materials – and all those harmful emissions being put out into the environment.
  • Use “clean air” products such as HEPA filters in your furnace. While these filters are the most popular type of clean air products, you can also buy them for pre-finished hardwood flooring, ceramic, stone, marble, and other hard surfaces.

And lastly, while it’s not a tip that will help you make a greener home, it is one that will save you some money: find out what incentives the government is offering. The federal and provincial governments want us all to go as green as possible, for our health and to save some money. Because of this, they often have incentive programs that will reimburse you, or pay for your entire home renovation! For instance, in Saskatchewan you can currently apply for a Saskatchewan Ener-Guide for Houses Retrofit Grant Program. This program, open until October 31, 2013, gives grants up to $5,000 for homeowners that want to make their home ‘greener.’ And the federal government always has rebates and other incentives available.

Turning your regular old home into a green one is a great decision. It will not only save you money in the long run, but will also protect the health of you and your family; and save the environment from the harmful impacts of our lifestyles. Just make sure that when it’s time for you to go green, you’re doing it in the most efficient way possible by following these tips!

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