May 9, 2011
Funding your Green Renovations
Retrofit to Improve Equity with Economical Sense
Canadians, and the world in general, are taking the step toward becoming better citizens of the earth and, in turn, more responsible homeowners. Green retrofits not only benefit the environment, they will also benefit your wallet.
Both the CMHC and Genworth Financial Canada offer homeowners mortgage insurance premium discounts of up to 10 per cent when they purchase energy efficient properties or refinance to make energy efficient renovations according to specified criteria. Energy efficient renovations may also be used as tax deductions under most circumstances.
More directly, green retrofits make a significant dent on home heating, electricity and water bills.
The following are a list of practical, not-so-difficult alterations you can make to your home to be better on the planet and better to your monthly budget:
Improve on Heating:
- Have your attic checked to be sure it is properly insulated and ventilated. A drafty attic can lead to major heat escape and expense.
- Ensure all your heating ducts are sealed. This could bring down your heat wastage by 20 per cent.
- If your furnace was built before 1990, it is probably time for an energy efficient replacement. This will also improve your home value.
- Make sure your furnace and filters are always clean.
- Windows are the biggest culprit for winter heat loss. Replace single panes windows with double or tipple, and be sure all panes are smoothly sealed.
- Attached garages are also a major heating drain. Consider replacing your garage door with one that is insulated, and be sure to change the weather stripping around your door frames every 3-5 years.
- If your home is equipped with a rustic fireplace, consider replacing the cast iron damper with a modern damper and installing glass doors. This can reduce heat escape through the damper by 90 per cent.
- If you haven’t one already, install a programmable thermostat and use it. Program low heat while no one is home and overnight.
Improve on Electricity
- Fridges are the highest energy draining appliance in your home next to an air conditioner, which most Canadians probably don’t need to worry about. If your fridge is 15 years or older, it may be time to say goodbye. Fridges made after 2000 are said to use half the energy of fridges made previous to that year. Additionally, ensuring that the tops and coils are clean and that temperatures are accurately set can reduce the energy consumption of older units by as much as 30 per cent.
- Replace your incandescent bulbs with fluorescents or CFLs. Though more expensive, they use significantly less electricity to glow and will save you more than $100 over the life of the bulb.
- Install a water-efficient humidifier on your furnace. This will help your house feel warmer and is essential to preserving hardwood flooring in dryer climates.
- Going solar is not an easy nor cheap endeavour. Try implementing a solar energy source into your home one panel a year, or start with outdoor lighting.
- Check your pipes and faucets for leaks. Leaky toilets are the leading cause for high water bills, followed by dripping faucets. Usually the fix is just a tightening of some closet bolts, replacing a wax gasket or repairing a faulty shutoff valve
Improve on Water
- Implement some rain barrels into your outdoor landscape. Simply direct water from your eavestrough system into your barrel to use for gardening versus paying for that water.
- How old is your hot water heater? If the answer is 15 years plus, it may be time to replace the unit with an energy efficient model and bundle it in an insulating jacket. This can decrease heat loss from the unit by up to 40 per cent.
- Toilets can last in excess of 40 years, however as durable as these old faithfuls have proven to be, they are not as equally water efficient. Consider upgrading to low flow toilets and low flow showerheads to decrease your bathroom water usage.
- If sloping is an issue on your lot, consider planting trees and shrubs at the bases of these slopes to absorb water runoff and lessen the chance of it ending up in your basement. You may also, in time, consider terracing your lot to provide flat planting and gardening areas.
How Can I Afford these Renovations?
Are you more ready for the crossover to energy efficiency than is your bank account? If you have amassed more than 15 per cent equity in your home, you may consider drawing a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC). A HELOC allows you access to funds at an interest rate based on prime, and the option to make payments as low as interest only. Plus there is no penalty for repaying amounts drawn in full at any time.
If your mortgage rate is currently more than one per cent higher than a rate you could achieve today, you may also want to consider a refinance with an equity take out. Not only would this free your renovation funds, it would also see you saving in interest payments over the next term.
Alternatively you may want to set a goal of achieving one energy efficient step bi-yearly, and taking the time to make the fixes yourself with a little bit of sweat and patience.
This article was provided by CanEquity.com.