Saving Energy: First Increase Efficiency, then Reduce Use
Power bills tend to fluctuate along with the weather. Summertime highs and winter lows have a direct impact on our heating and cooling costs.
While your first reaction may often be to limit your energy use (heating, baths, etc.), if your home is not optimized to retain heat in winter (and it out in summer), even the most zealous of efforts will not give the hoped-for results.
Our insulation experts’ tips for improving your home’s energy efficiency
Inspect the attic
The best times to inspect your attic are in the spring, before it gets really hot, and in the fall, before the temperature drops below zero. Here is what to check during inspection:
- Air vents: Ventilation is your home’s best friend when it comes to preventing condensation.
- Insulation: Make sure there is enough insulation over the whole surface of your attic space.
- Condition of the insulation: Insulation must be dry and placed properly. Wet insulation could be a sign of condensation, which may point to poor ventilation or water infiltration. If you smell mould, some of your insulation may be damp. Find and eliminate the source of the smell immediately.
Sometimes, it is difficult to access the attic yourself. If this is the case in your home, call a professional to perform the inspection and prevent potential damage.
We often overlook the surroundings of our house when trying to improve energy efficiency. Landscaping is actually your home’s first line of defence against temperature variations. You need to take into consideration the exposure of your rooms and the prevailing winds, and adjust your insulation accordingly.
Trees, for instance, are great allies for keeping your home cozy. Their shade will keep it cool in the summer, while they will act as windbreak in the winter to help retain warmth.
Ask a plant nursery to help you choose trees that are best suited for your needs. These professionals can provide advice on what to plant according to soil type, sun exposure, and other factors.
Choose climate-appropriate materials
Are you planning a new construction? Choose your materials carefully right from the start. An investment in quality materials can pay off quickly through energy savings!
Our advice for renovation and new builds alike:
- Do not stop at the Building Code’s energy efficiency requirements: go for better-than-code
- Choose climate-appropriate materials: Compare technical details and ratings.
- Find out about the various assistance and tax credit programs:
- Rénoclimat is among Quebec’s best-known programs of this kind
- There is a whole range of programs throughout the country. You will find the list here.
And of course, everyday actions matter just as much!
We have given you a great starting point, but you will have a maximum impact on your energy use by combining this advice with good everyday habits.
Install a smart thermostat that will let you easily control the temperature in each room of the house and that will adapt energy use to outdoor temperatures. These thermostats can also analyze room humidity, which can help you improve ventilation when humidity levels are high.
Also think about turning off devices, such as computers and TV screens, when you are not using them. They consume power constantly, even when in standby mode. (This is especially important when you are away for extended periods of time – like when you go on vacation).
Here are a few examples of good habits that can help decrease your energy use (and your bill!):
- Defrost your freezer regularly.
- Avoid half-loads: Only use the dryer when it is full.
- Remember to turn off the heat when you are airing out your home.
- Install low-energy light bulbs.
- Use the covers on pots and pans: Faster cooking means a shorter energy usage time.