I am renovating my home or cottage

Renovating is not only a great way to update your living space, it is the perfect time to incorporate small green changes that can save you thousands of dollars in bills.

But aside from changing light bulbs, where do you start when considering a green renovation? There are many opportunities to reduce your monthly energy and water bills while creating a healthier and more comfortable home.

On this page, sorted by type of renovation, you’ll find a variety of simple and inexpensive ways to incorporate green features into your renovation – whether it is just one room, or a whole house.

Bathroom
Kitchen
Other areas of the home or cottage
Whole Home Renovation 

For a list of other great resources, including websites, local contacts and opportunities for green home rebates, click here.

 


Bathroom Renovation

 

Parkland Net Zero Project, by Habitat Studio & Workshop, Certified LEED Platinum

In a bathroom renovation your biggest opportunity to go green is in reducing water use and hot water bills.

Low-flow toilets

A low-flow or low-flow dual-flush toilet can reduce your water use by 25% for a family of four if an older style toilet is replaced. The replacement can be done yourself, or if you prefer by a professional. To find a great performing low-flow toilet, visit Map-Testing.com. Make a short list and take it to a store to pick the best of what they have available in your price range. 

Install a more efficient shower head

Did you know showers use about 40 per cent of the hot water in your home? Installing the right low-flow shower head, especially one that is 1.75 gallons per minute (GPM) or less, will save you up to 30 per cent in water and energy bills. For a great example of a good quality inexpensive low-flow shower head visit Earth Easy.

Consider changing your bathroom ventilation

One opportunity people don’t often consider in a bathroom reno is ventilation. Better ventilation helps to improve interior air quality and reduces the chance of mold.

Installing a quiet (below 1 sone) energy efficient fan will improve the energy efficiency of the home. Why does it improve efficiency? People tend to turn off fans quickly because they are noisy. But fans exhaust stale air and replace it with fresh air that is pulled through the leaks in your home. Some fans include a timer, or alternatively have a motion sensor that keeps the fan on for 15 minutes after you leave the room. A great example of a quiet, efficient fan is the Panasonic Whisper Green line of DC fans.

Another thing to consider for ventilation is how you install it. If you are replacing or installing the duct run, remember to ensure it always goes to the outside of the house (never vent to the attic), and try to make the run as short and direct as possible. The less ducting used and the straighter it is, with no or few bends in the piping(each bend is equal to adding six feet of extra duct the more efficient it will be. Also, use either rigid metal duct for the exhaust or flexible metal duct; both allow for a smoother air flow than flexible plastic duct. They  use less energy and work better. 

Re-doing the tile or bathtub

If you are re-doing your tile or the area surrounding your bathtub, using a non paper faced drywall is a great way to go green. Doing so greatly reduces the chance of mold and will have better performance than green board or standard drywall. Fiberglass faced drywall is also easier to work with than concrete board. A great example of a non paper faced drywall can be found here.

Want more tips and tricks for your bathroom renovation? Visit ReGreen’s website.

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Kitchen Renovation

Parkland Net Zero Project, by Habitat Studio & Workshop, Certified LEED Platinum

Replacing appliances will help you save on energy

While renovating a kitchen, consider recycling your old fridge (many utility companies will pick it up for free), and purchasing an ENERGY STAR fridge. Choosing a smaller fridge will also reduce the monthly energy cost. Compare the EnerGuide rating that is listed on each fridge before you buy one – this will tell you which ones will save you the most energy and the most money.

Also consider an energy star dishwasher that uses much less hot water. This will reduce the cost to wash dishes while providing convenience.  You can compare the water and energy use on some retailer’s websites or look at top performers on sites like these.

If you are installing a new range hood, try not to over ventilate. Most commercial range hoods are intended to exhaust from a commercial kitchen, and in a residential home it quickly pulls all your heated air to the outside. If you want the commercial look then seek a residential grade energy star range hood that will pull an appropriate amount of air out of the kitchen. For many homes this is in the 100-400 CFM (cubic feet per minute) range.   

Kitchen cabinetry

If you are having cabinetry made select material that is urea formaldehyde free. For counter tops look for laminates that are GREENGUARD Certified.  You can also consider butcher block wood countertops, paper, or stone counter tops.  If you are looking at stone type materials consider Ice Stone, which has up to 75% recycled glass. 

Consider greener flooring

For flooring consider hard wearing Marmolum as a modern low maintenance and green alternative to vinyl.

Want more tips and tricks for your kitchen renovation? Visit ReGreen’s website.

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Other areas of the home or cottage

Insulation

Often in renovations you have the opportunity to fill un-insulated spaces to make them more energy efficient. To go green, consider rock wool or cellulose insulation. Both are available at most home renovation centers and contain recycled content, are made in Canada, and have the potential to reduce your monthly heating costs.

Furnace, Hot Water Heater or Boiler Replacement

If your furnace is more than 15 years old consider getting it replaced during the summer. If a furnace breaks in the winter you may get whatever is left over from another job, aka “what is in the truck” and it might be poorly sized for your home, and therefore less efficient. For a constant even heat and lower energy bills, look for a condensing gas furnace (or boiler or hot water heater) with an efficiency of 95% or higher. Many homes may have a 55-60% efficient furnace where 45 cents of every heating dollar goes up the chimney; with a condensing furnace less than 5 cents is going up the exhaust. 

Windows

When looking to replace or install new windows, look for those that are Energy Star rated for Zone C or D. You could also consider installing casement windows, which tend to be less drafty as they age when compared to slider and double hung windows. For more great information on how to create efficiency with your windows, read this Scotiabank Eco Living article.

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Whole Home Renovation

 

Parkland Net Zero Project, by Habitat Studio & Workshop, Certified LEED Platinum

If you are doing a large renovation of your whole home, the opportunity to reduce energy use is huge. The best way to take advantage of all of the possibilities is to consider certifying your home with LEED Canada for Homes.

What is the benefit to living in a LEED home?

  • LEED homes are healthy homes – reducing allergens, and triggers for asthma and chemical sensitivity.
  • LEED homes use non-toxic materials that lower exposure to mold and mildew. This is because LEED rewards the use of hardwood floors over carpets. Hardwood floors can contribute to better indoor air quality. LEED also requires hard surfaces at entrances and in bathrooms, which lowers the chance of air quality issues, and rewards the use of materials with less toxic glues and less toxic paints.
  • LEED homes are thoughtfully designed to eliminate uncomfortable rooms. This is done by rewarding the proper balance of heating and cooling systems so that the ideal amount of heating or cooling is delivered to each room. Unfortunately, occupants find all too often that different rooms are maintained at different temperatures, which prevents a common issue from occurring where one room of the house is much colder than the rest despite the same thermostat setting. LEED Canada for Homes also rewards projects with multiple heating zones which can both reduce heating costs and increase comfort.
  • Due to environmental efficiency measures built into these homes, you will achieve monthly savings on water and energy. For example,new owners can save on average $900 a year on water and energy bills for a 2,000 sq.ft. detached LEED Canada home located in Ontario. This represents $22,560 over the life of an average mortgage.

LEED Canada for Homes also has two on-site inspections that will ensure your newly renovated green home is built  to be as energy and water efficient as possible.   

For more information on LEED Canada for Homes and how to find experts in your area, visit our LEED Canada for Homes page now. Have additional questions? Email us at any time and we will do our best to help you understand how LEED Canada for Homes works and why it could be right for you.

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