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Upgrading Your Home for Sustainable Energy Alternatives in 2017

Kaitlin Krull, Modernize Solar (Guest Author)
Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Green living in British Columbia is more than just a passing fad: the B.C. Climate Leadership Plan outlines clear goals for reduced carbon emissions and a more sustainable future and applies to residential homeowners as well as corporations and industries. Whether your own personal desire to make your home more energy efficient stems from similar concerns about climate change, your family’s health, or simply reducing your monthly bills, going green just makes sense.

Your home’s value is the single biggest reason to own property versus renting, and making sustainable, environmentally-conscious decisions will increase your home’s property value and make it more appealing to buyers if you ever decide to sell. We at Modernize Solar want to help you turn your home dreams into an achievable plan. Here are some easy ways to upgrade your home for a greener way of life in no time.

Perform a home energy audit
Before you spend a dime on any major home improvements, have a licensed and independent energy auditor come and evaluate your home’s energy efficiency. They’ll inspect for air leakage, faulty or damaged heat pumps, duct pressure, and can even perform thermal imaging tests on your home. Not only will you learn about any what energy deficits your home may have, you’ll also learn what measures will correct the issues, and which will save you time and money over the long haul.

Upgrade your windows and doors
One of the most straightforward ways to make your home more sustainable and energy efficient is by repairing and replacing old windows and doors. This is especially true in some areas of British Columbia, where cold and snowy winters can mean cold houses and substantial heat loss. According to Natural Resources Canada, upgrading your old or period windows to double or even triple glazed Energy Star approved models shaves an average of 8% off your annual energy bills. Check for quality before you buy, opting for Energy Star qualified products whenever possible, and do your research before choosing: the best energy efficient windows come with both a low-e coating that traps heat inside your home as well as insulating gas between the panes of glass. If the cost of upgrading to new windows is too high, you can improve your existing windows and doors’ insulation by caulking, weatherstripping, and making repairs to broken or damaged frames and panes.

Improve your home’s heating and insulation
If the existing heating system in your home is outdated and inefficient, there are several ways to increase the comfort levels in your home without splurging on an entirely new HVAC unit. Heat pumps that distribute air through ducts already in your home can improve the quality of your heating, or you can opt for ground-source pumps if your home is in a colder area. Taking the time to properly insulate your attic, wall cavities, and piping will also help to curtail air leakage and regulate your home’s temperature throughout the year. Finally, you can overhaul your hot water system at home by switching to a more efficient and contemporary tankless system powered by gas, propane, or electricity. If you need more guidance here, the Government of British Columbia website has more tips for changing the way you heat and insulate your home.

Invest in smart technology
Smart technology makes keeping an eye on your home energy use easier than ever before. Home energy monitors and smart meters can track your usage and tell you when you’re consuming the most energy by using an in-home display unit (IHD). Smart thermostats are a similar options with a slightly higher price tag: they offer the ultimate in convenience by allowing you to access and adjust your home’s temperature remotely, as well as the precise control over unique temperature regulation in different rooms of your home. If you want to further decrease your energy use throughout the home with the use of smart tech, there are a wide variety of appliances and other gadgets equipped with this technology that can be linked together and controlled from your tablet, smartphone, or digital home hub.

Make smart energy choices at home
In addition to making some of the large-scale changes mentioned above, there are many smaller ways you can keep energy use to a minimum in your home. Switch off lights, appliances, and electronics when not in use. Change out old light bulbs and replace them with energy efficient CFLs or LEDs. Make use of natural light whenever possible by opening curtains and blinds and spending time outdoors. Finally, consume less water with low-flow taps and showerheads or dual-flush toilets (as well as instituting water conserving practices). All of these practices make good habit, and they’ll significantly decrease your home’s carbon footprint.

With these energy-efficient upgrades, you’ll be contributing to the improved health of the environment, while also saving money at home—and that’s a green double win to feel good about.