Home Heating Conservation

Tip #1: Install double-glazed, low-e, argon-filled windows. Double-glazed, argon-filled windows use argon gas to fill the gap between window panes. Argon gas has better insulation properties than air. These windows also come with a coating on the glass called low-emissivity (low-e for short). This low-e coating allows heat from the sun to come in during the winter, but prevents the sun's energy from coming into the house during the warm summer months. Low-e reduces energy consumption by letting the sun help heat your home during the winter, but preventing it from making your house even hotter in the summer. By replacing old windows with double-glazed, low-e windows, you can reduce your home's energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 10 percent and also make your house more comfortable to live in. As its energy efficiency increases, a window not only lets less warmth out of the house, but also lets less cold into the house in winter. An energy-efficient window feels warmer in winter than a single-pane window if you touch it inside because it is better at keeping the cold out.

Tip #2: Upgrade attic insulation to R-32. The R-value of insulation is a measure of the insulating power of the material. The higher the R-value, the greater the insulating power. Generally, the thicker the insulating material, the greater its R-value and its insulating power. A fibreglass batt or loose-blown cellulose insulation would need to be approximately 30 cm (12 inches) thick to provide an R-value of 32. Increasing the amount of insulation in your attic is a fairly cost-effective way of reducing your home's energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Depending on how much insulation you now have in your attic, you can save as much as 11 percent on your energy bills and greenhouse gas emissions by insulating your attic to R-32. Generally, the more insulation you add, the more energy you will save, so it's always a good idea to add as much insulation as you can afford. As a rule of thumb, R-32 is a good minimum level of attic insulation.

Tip #3: Upgrade wall insulation to R-12. The best time to consider upgrading the insulation in your walls is when you are renovating your house. Increasing the levels of insulation in your walls can significantly increase the overall energy efficiency of your home, significantly decrease your overall greenhouse gas emissions, and make the whole house feel warmer during the winter months. If you live in an old house, it is possible that the amount of insulation in your walls is very low. New homes generally have high levels of insulation in walls, around R-20, which makes them more energy efficient and more comfortable in the winter. You can tell fairly easily whether you could use more insulation in your walls by placing your hand on a wall that faces the exterior of your house during a cold winter day. If the wall feels cold to the touch, you probably have low levels of insulation and are losing a lot of heat! By upgrading wall insulation in an older home to R-12, you could save as much as 24 percent on your energy bills and reduce your home's greenhouse gas emissions by the same amount. If you are planning to upgrade your wall insulation, put in as much insulation as you can, because the more you put in, the more you will save on your heating bills!

Tip #4: Upgrade basement wall insulation to R-12. By not insulating basement walls, the result is that a lot of heat is lost to the outside. Insulating basement walls is a cost-effective way of reducing your home's energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions because, unless your basement is finished, it is relatively easy to install insulation on the walls. By upgrading your basement wall insulation to R-12, you could reduce your heating bills and your home's greenhouse gas emissions by as much as 16 percent.

Tip #5: Plug the leaks around doors and windows. Air sealing your house - "plugging the leaks" around windows and doors with caulking and weatherstripping - is the easiest and most cost-effective way of reducing energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. In many homes, much warm indoor air escapes through cracks and gaps around doors, windows or other openings. By plugging the leaks and using energy efficient doors you can save as much as 25 percent on your energy bills, at minimal cost. In general, older doors and windows tend to be the leakiest. New doors and windows are factory designed with weatherstripping around the frame to reduce leaks. Weatherstripping and caulking come in many different makes and styles, and can be found in any hardware store. Weatherstripping is a strip of foam, rubber or vinyl plastic that is usually attached to the door or window frame. Because it is soft and flexible, when it is snug against a closed door or window it seals the gap between the door or window and frame, preventing air from leaking out of the house. Caulking usually comes in cardboard tubes with a plastic nozzle. Caulking is a kind of plastic that is liquid when is it squeezed out of the tube with a caulking gun but then dries in gaps and cracks to become a solid but flexible sealant. You apply caulking to any gap, crack or opening other than a window that is in use or a door. Air sealing can also involve installing new, energy-efficient doors. Energy-efficient doors are made of steel or fibreglass surrounding a polystyrene or polyurethane core. Polystyrene and polyurethane are types of rigid foam insulation, and doors made of these materials reduce substantially the amount of heat lost to the outdoors compared with doors made of wood.

Tip #6: Set thermostat temperature back by 1�C. The Climate Change Calculator assumes that your thermostat is set to 21�C (70�F) in winter. As a rule of thumb, for every degree Celsius you reduce the temperature in your house when you are using your furnace, you save 8 percent on your energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. Try reducing your thermostat temperature by 1�C for a few days. Try reducing the temperature by one more degree until you find your house has become too cold. Keep the thermostat set at the lowest temperature that you found comfortable. Tip #7: Set the thermostat temperature back by 3�C only at night. Many people find that during the winter they can set their thermostat temperature back at night to temperatures that would be uncomfortable during the daytime. A heavy blanket or comforter allows you to stay warm in bed while the rest of the house is a little cooler. You can either set the temperature back yourself when you go to bed, or you can buy a programmable thermostat that will automatically set the temperature back at night and bring the temperature back up in the morning, keeping the house comfortable at all times. Try keeping your house as cool at night as you find acceptable. As a rule of thumb, for every degree Celsius you set your temperature back over an eight-hour period, you save 2 percent on your heating bills. Tip #8: Seal and insulate forced air system ducts. Leaky ducts are an important source of energy inefficiency in a home. Duct leaks can raise a home's heating and cooling costs by 20 to 30 percent. That figure can double in homes where ducts are uninsulated in an attic, exterior wall or unheated crawl space. Sealing leaks in your ducts and insulating ducts in the attic or in uninsulated basements or crawl spaces is an easy and cost-effective way of significantly reducing your heating-related greenhouse gas emissions. Even in heated basements, it is a good idea to seal and then insulate your ducts. As a minimum, it's recommended that the warm air return and the first three metres (10 feet) of warm air ducting be insulated. In this way, the heat from your furnace goes only where you want it. When sealing ducts, first look for sections that should be joined but have separated, and then look for other holes and openings where hot air is escaping. If you can, switch your furnace's circulating fan to "on" (many thermostats will allow you to do this) while you use your hand to feel for leaks. Use a special water-based duct mastic (sealant).