Archives pour l'étiquette energy

Heating and lighting: Can you bring down the cost?

In Canada, winter is synonymous with snowy landscapes, cold-weather sports… And soaring electricity bills. What if you could make changes to your house, or plan the construction of your next home to reduce the amount of energy you consume? From little fixes to major work, here’s how you can make your house more eco-friendly, increase your comfort level and save on heating and lighting.

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Adopt eco-friendly habits

“If you want to reduce your energy bill, your priorities should be ensuring that the house is well insulated and replacing energy-sucking appliances,” explains Martin Lambert, Founding President of Ecosolaris. “It always costs less to invest in conserving energy rather than producing it.” Guilty parties include incandescent light bulbs, which could be replaced by LED lighting, and old appliances that you’d be better to replace with Energy Star-certified appliances. Products that carry this certification are required to meet strict technical specifications related to energy efficiency and are tested extensively before being certified.

“Control systems can also be a good way to save,” adds Brian Wilkinson, President of Energie Matrix Inc. “A smart thermostat that can be controlled remotely could save you up to 20% of your electricity bill.” Continuer la lecture

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What to Upgrade First?

Most people renovate their homes for more space or more comfort. Some also remodel their homes in order to sell their property more quickly while getting the desired price for it.

But you shouldn’t start renovating carelessly. Follow these guidelines.

  • It would be irresponsible to carry out overwhelming work in order to sell your home quickly. Disaster will probably strike. Some upgrades, worth a few hundreds or thousands of dollars, should do the trick.
  • Check every nook and cranny in your home to find any defects. Neglecting this step might give the future buyer the wrong impression. Imagine if he or she arrives with a building inspector? Omitting to inspect your home is not the best way to go, even if you end up selling your property for the desired price. If the future homeowner ends up dragging you into court for latent defects, not only will you see your profit melt away, but your quality of life will diminish.
  • Start by facing your home and put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Is the frontage appealing? Is the front door impeccable? A neglected exterior usually implies a careless homeowner in the minds of future buyers.
  • Go outside and walk around your property and think of the things that would bother a buyer and try to address the problem. For example, you live in a noisy neighbourhood because of the traffic. Find out how much building a green wall or a solid wall would cost to reduce the noise.

Continuer la lecture

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Durable and strong

The expression “invest in stone” used to mean to invest in construction and real estate. Why? Because real estate is a strong and durable sector. Like stone.

Is there a more natural, more resistant, more sustainable and stronger material than stone? It’s practically eternal. Not surprising that it is among the materials of choice in this era of green living.

Stone is abundant in nature. It is recyclable, waterproof, porous and requires little maintenance, which keeps it far away from numerous chemical products. It filters pollution by absorbing carbon dioxide, the main gas behind the greenhouse effect. Another important asset: it’s fire-resistant.

Stone reduces energy consumption in a house by storing the heat for redistribution as needed. It is a natural heat regulator, since it combats temperature variations. In Quebec, however, this ecological advantage is lesser because insulation separates the exterior stone wall from the interior. But lesser does not mean nil. A stone floor exposed to the rays of the sun in winter will slow this ecological loss.

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iStock

Elsewhere in the world, in certain mountainous regions, crushed stone is piled around foundations of homes to deal with the violent winds and extreme winter temperatures. These crushed stones heat the inside in winter and cool it off in summer.

Stone is not perfect. Its mining, at times its transformation and shipping result in a considerable energy expense, given the weight and mass of the material. These operations release a good dose of carbon dioxide into the air. Therefore, it’s preferable that the stone be mined in the region itself. The shorter the journey, the more the material becomes ecological. Fortunately, Quebec has numerous quarries, including the granite and marble quarries in the Mégantic region, and slate in Saint-Marc-du-Long, the largest quarry in North America according to Wikipedia.

 

References:

French Wikipedia article on slate
Habitat sain et écologique, Ginette Dupuy, Les éditions Quebecor, 2011, 295 pages

Guide de la maison verte, Michel Durand, Les éditions La Presse, 2008, 339 pages

 

Photos: iStock.com

Concrete that is indestructible or close to it

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iStockphoto

Do you know the insulated concrete method for formwork? It consists in replacing the wood formwork with a polystyrene foam formwork (rigid insulation), for the foundation and the above-ground walls. The framework is an integral part of the wall because it stays in place after the concrete work.

This method offers several benefits: increased fire resistance, noise reduction, improved energy efficiency, strength and long-term profitability.

Energy efficiency may be the most obvious benefit. The walls are insulated without air space or thermal bridges inside and outside, from the footing to the roof. The building is impervious to heat loss and air infiltrations if the caulking around the openings is done properly.

This type of construction ensures sustainable development. In ideal conditions, poured concrete in an insulated framework provides a practically indestructible product that will resist humidity, insects and any type of degradation for a long time. Continuer la lecture

No more chills!

Ecorad radiator

Are we the only ones to have suffered from the cold and humidity of the last few months? The only ones to dream of more clement weather?

Even with electronic thermostats in the house, we would get a chill when the sun set. A colleague spoke to us about radiant heating, but with electricity rather than heating oil. You remember those iron radiators that we used to see in our grandparents homes. The ones that they used to say “weighed a ton.” Continuer la lecture