With the cooler temperatures creeping up on us here in Canada, not to mention the storm season winds and rains that will eventually be bestowed upon us this winter in Ucluelet, the question on many homeowners' minds is: How can I make my home more energy efficient?
Depending on when your home was built, modern heating and cooling systems may not be as efficient as they are in newer homes, which were built with these kinds of systems in mind.
Older homes were built before central heating was available, so the design was often based around offering the dwellers some kind of control over internal temperatures, usually by way of thicker walls, cross-ventilation, awnings and strategically placed trees.
When you begin to upgrade your older home for energy efficiency, take the entire house into consideration. Use those built-in features that your older home was built with to improve these already existing features.
We are going to show you the best energy efficiency upgrades for an older home, the ones that are going to save you the most money!
The goal when making improvements for energy efficiency is to get the best return on investment possible. Making the home more efficient will not only save you money on the monthly, but if done correctly, can even increase a home's value.
Some of the best ways to increase your older home’s energy efficiency are:
Before you start investing in energy efficiency upgrades, you should first get an energy audit. Hire a company that is certified by the government, and you may even be eligible for rebates or grants to help off-set the costs of the home improvements! Avoid companies that are selling products for energy efficiency, such as windows, if you want the most accurate assessment of the efficiency of your home.
What the energy audit will do for you is assess how well the house is sealed, and from there, will identify the areas where you can improve the energy efficiency of the home.
In the case of an older home, it is highly likely that your home is not entirely sealed; at least not in the same way that modern homes are. But the technology that exists now can do a surprisingly good job of sealing a home for energy efficiency.
One of the best energy efficient upgrades you can make is sealing up every point in your home where air can escape, causing heat or cooling loss. By sealing up the air ducts, doors, windows, attic and pipe inlets, you will allow less air exchange with the outside, which is the main culprit of energy inefficiency.
To help you understand how to get started, there is a great resource through HGTV explaining how to seal a drafty house, however, we do recommend you consult a reputable contractor for a more detailed explanation of how to do the job properly before jumping straight in.
This is another area where some older homes will fall short; poor insulation. The materials used for insulating older homes was not as advanced as what we have today, so if your home is more than 20 years old, this area of your home could probably use and upgrade.
Depending on the construction of your home, the amount of insulation used to achieve maximum efficiency can be determined by a professional.
Older homes can usually use some new insulation in the walls and in the attic, as these are the places where insulation is most important.
If your home heating and/or cooling systems were installed more than 10 years ago, then chances are you are missing out on newer energy efficiency developments.
Since energy efficiency has become such a hot topic in real estate, the HVAC systems being developed are constantly improving. Generally speaking, an HVAC system will have a life expectancy of approximately twenty years. If your system is anywhere near this old, you certainly will benefit from a newer, more energy efficient option.
If your current thermostat offers you little control over the temperature of your home, then a programmable thermostat will be of great value to you.
A programmable thermostat allows you to alter the temperature of your home depending on the time of the day, so that the energy being consumed while you are asleep or at work will be less than if you leave the house at the same temperature all day and night.
Be sure not to make the temperature change too drastic, because the walls and furniture absorb heat and if they cool off too much, this makes it more energy-consuming for the heating system to re-heat the house and all of its contents.
Most people wrongly assume that changing the windows will be the most effective way to make a home more energy efficient, and while this may be true, this upgrade is not always the most reliable way to get a return on investment.
Unless you plan on being in your home for a very long time to come, changing the windows will likely set you back more money than it will save you. High-quality windows will cost you a pretty penny and it will take many years for what you spent on new windows to be met by the energy savings you will acquire.
There are many reasons to change the windows in your home, such as aesthetics, ease of use, or potentially improving re-sale value, but if you think you will be moving in the foreseeable future, forego replacement and look into other sealing options for your windows and doors.
Making your older home more energy efficient has the benefits of lowering the utility bill and being kinder to the environment, but it will also give you greater comfort and home satisfaction.
We hope these tips for making your home more energy efficient have been helpful, and if ever you need more information on the energy efficiency of a Ucluelet home, please do feel free to contact us.