Building an energy efficient home
Building a home that is energy efficient is always easier than renovating for energy efficiency later. There are many things to consider when it comes to ensuring your new home will use energy efficiently. Make sure you have a knowledgeable contractor and understand that a little extra money up front can turn into considerable savings in operational costs over the long term as well as help ensure a safe environment for your family.
A typical window will last up to twenty years or more. Therefore, the windows you select can help define energy efficiency and comfort levels in your home for years to come. High-performance windows offer significant improvements in solar control, thermal comfort and energy efficiency. They do this by incorporating low-E coatings, inert gas fills, and better edge spacers and frames.
See the ENERGY STAR® qualified windows page to learn how to plan your window purchases and to read about the characteristics of high efficiency windows.
Lighting accounts for about 15% of a home’s electricity consumption. By including energy-efficient lights, lighting controls, and good lighting design in your new home, costs can be reduced considerably without compromising comfort or aesthetics. An energy-efficient lighting design can include the use of:
Not every lighting technology is a good fit for every application. The key is to know what lights and controls to use in which area of the home. It’s worth paying special attention to lighting design early in the planning stages.
See Indoor lighting for comfort and savings, for information on the types of indoor light sources, their advantages and disadvantages, maintenance and control systems.
Heating accounts for 60% or more of an average household’s energy consumption. There are many different ways to heat your home. It pays to consider your energy source carefully and choose the most efficient ENERGY STAR®-labeled model that suits your needs.
If you live in an area connected to one of the Yukon’s hydro-electric grids and electricity is your heating mode of choice, you should know that a heat pump is the most efficient way to produce heat from electricity.
If you plan on using oil, ensure that you get a high-efficiency boiler or furnace for your central heating system. These high-efficiency condensing appliances can save you 10% or more on your annual heating costs compared with standard-efficiency products. A boiler can even meet your hot water requirements at that high level of efficiency.
|Condensing furnaces and boilers extract so much heat from their exhaust that water vapor in the exhaust condenses. Such appliances must be designed to avoid the corrosion that this highly acidic condensate might cause and may need to include a condensate pump to remove the accumulated water.|
If you are planning to heat with wood, make sure you purchase a clean burning stove, such as a pellet stove or an EPA-approved wood stove. EPA-approved wood stoves use up to 1/3 less fuel and emit far less smoke than non EPA approved stoves. In the City of Whitehorse, all newly installed wood stoves must be EPA-approved.
For advice on wood stove selection and installation, obtaining fuel and burning cleanly, read the Energy Solutions Centre publication, “The Lure and Lore
For central heating systems, an electronic thermostat can help you achieve the greatest comfort by providing more precise temperature control. A programmable electronic thermostat will help you save energy by automatically setting the temperature back when you are asleep or away. It will also give you the comfort of waking up or coming home to a warm house. See Thermostats for efficiency and comfort, for information on selecting, locating and programming thermostats.
Insulation is your home’s “overcoat”. The Building Code’s requirements are only a minimum. Adding more insulation to your ceiling, floors and walls is a smart investment - the dollars you save will quickly exceed the cost. See Insulating for energy efficiency to learn more about various types of insulation, installation techniques and strategies for effectively utilizing it in your home.
It is much easier to make a house airtight when it is being built than it is to seal drafts later. Ensure that you choose a contractor who will take the extra care needed to make your new home as airtight as possible. Discuss with the contractor what draft-proofing measures are proposed.
|It is important to recognize that, as the building envelope is made tighter, proper design and installation of the mechanical ventilation system becomes even more critical. Contaminated air that is not properly exhausted is not only unhealthy for occupants but can be damaging to the building as well.|
Older homes were built on the premise that natural air infiltration through leaks in the building envelope was sufficient for the ventilation air requirements. Today we understand that it is much better to have a reasonably tight building envelope and a properly designed and operated mechanical ventilation system. Our building codes specify that ventilation air requirements for houses be 0.35 air changes per hour, or about eight complete air changes per day. Systems can range in complexity from a simple system with bathroom and kitchen fans to a whole-house system that uses a heat recovery ventilator (HRV), which pre-heats the fresh air coming in with the heat from the contaminated air being exhausted.
Look carefully into your options and speak with an expert about the ventilation requirements of your home. For a detailed look at this topic, see the Good ventilation is important page.
The R-2000 program, administered by Natural Resources Canada in cooperation with Canada’s home-building industry, encourages the building of energy-efficient houses that are environmentally friendly and healthy to live in. R-2000 homes are built to high standards that go beyond the building code. While an R-2000 home looks like any other, it works quite differently. Compared with most houses, an R-2000 home can use as little as half the energy for heat, light and hot water. R-2000 homes are built with lots of insulation and less air leakage through outside walls. R-2000 builders must be trained and licensed to build them, and every R-2000 home is designed, built, tested and certified to meet exacting technical standards backed by more than 30 years of research and development.
Speak with Yukon Housing about their low-interest loan programs and about finding an R-2000 contractor in the Yukon.
Looking for more details about building to the R-2000 standard?
Energy Solutions Centre
206A Lowe St., 1st Floor
Whitehorse, Yukon (Canada)
Phone: (867) 393-7063
Fax: (867) 393-7061