“Greening” Your New Home
When thinking about buying a new home, energy and water efficiency might be high on your list of priorities, along with other environmental features.
There are many options available to new home buyers. The best approach is to talk with new home builders to find out what they offer and get their advice on features, benefits and costs.
- Energy efficiency
Investing in energy efficiency will reduce the cost of homeownership. Greater efficiency means lower bills, now and in the future. It will also help to protect you against sudden increases in energy costs that can play havoc with your budget. That’s a reassuring thought.
But the benefits go far beyond your pocketbook. Energy efficiency will result in a more comfortable home for you and your family. It is also the most important step you can take to reduce your home’s impact on the environment.
Common energy upgrades include more insulation, high-performance windows and upgraded heating and cooling systems. You may want to look more closely at heat pumps, on-demand water heaters and dual-purpose systems for space and water heating—these are now mainstream technologies. You can save even more energy by using ENERGY STAR®-rated appliances as well as halogen, compact fluorescent and LED lighting.
A growing number of builders participate in “green” housing programs and can offer you a home built and labeled to specific criteria.
- Water efficiency
Similarly, water efficiency will result in lower costs and better use of resources. It is a hedge against future increases as many municipalities look to update decaying infrastructure, with users likely being asked to shoulder some of the cost. The starting point for home buyers is low-flow toilets and faucets, as well as water-conserving landscaping. If you are interested in taking water efficiency further, talk with your builder about grey water recycling and rain collection for non-potable water use.
- Green products
There is a vast selection of resource-smart products that give you the look and function you want while reducing the impact on the environment. This includes products made from recycled waste or from easily renewable or well-managed sources; locally produced products, and products with a longer lifespan. Ask for details, so you know if a product is truly green and better for the environment.
- Indoor air quality
Healthy indoor air is important to you and your family. Ventilation is the key to protecting the quality of your home’s air, and a heat recovery ventilator will continuously exhaust stale air and bring in fresh air from the outside. The use of non-toxic materials and products in the building of your home also helps keep the air from becoming contaminated. Hard-surface flooring and other non-porous surfaces make it easy keep the house clean and free of dust and mold.
Greening your home can save you money at the time of purchase. You may be eligible for a 10% reduction on the mortgage insurance premium when you buy an energy-efficient home. Some financial institutions offer reduced interest rates or a rebate on a “green mortgage”, and some provincial governments and utilities have green incentive programs. Be sure to check with your lender and your builder to see what may be available in your region.