By Elden Freeman
The weather outside might be frightful but even more fearsome are the meters
doing their fast-forward spin on winter energy costs.
As a real estate professional, it behoves you to serve your clients well by
knowing about the environmental shape of that property you’re showing. The
average house consumes about $2,000 per year in energy costs. Help your
clients define what they’ll need to spend to make their purchase a happy,
efficient and affordable one.
So let’s start our tour on how to green your home:
Basement or utility room: If the furnace is more than 15 years old, consider
replacing it. Newer models are 90 per cent or more efficient compared to
older ones, which may be as low as 60 per cent or less. Turn down the heat
on your water temperature and be sure to maintain your heating and cooling
systems. Make sure water lines are insulated.
Kitchen: Electrical appliances use a whopping 30 per cent of energy in a
typical home with refrigeration taking up about eight per cent of that. New
appliances are up to three times more efficient than their older
counterparts. Be sure to unplug secondary fridges and freezers and only run
the dishwasher when it’s full.
Family room: Because heating and cooling represent about 45 per cent of
total energy costs, use a programmable thermostat so you can set it cooler
in winter and warmer in summer. Be sure to close the damper on your
fireplace and unplug electronics when they’re not in use.
Bedroom: Bedrooms use up to about 11 per cent of a home’s lighting
consumption. Replace incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lights.
Remember to turn off lights when leaving the room. Install dimmer switches
to save on energy costs where you can’t use CFLs.
Bathroom: The most obvious way to save energy in the bathroom is to use less
water, especially hot water. Showers and baths use over 50 per cent of a
house’s water consumption while toilets use 20 to 30 per cent. Install
low-flow toilets, faucets and showerheads. Take shorter, cooler showers.
Roof: Up to one-third of the heat produced in a house is lost through the
roof, walls and ceiling. Add insulation to hike R-values to 32 or more. Use
ceiling fans to stay cool in summer and install a solar hot water system.
Windows and doors: While highly efficient, new windows and doors aren’t
always affordable. As an alternative, caulk and weather strip leaky windows
and doors. Consider adding low-e glazing to storm windows.
Landscaping: Smaller lawns mean less maintenance and less watering. To
reduce the effects of harsh winter winds, plant a windbreak along the
windward side of the house. Deciduous trees planted along the south side
help with cooling.
According to Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp., homes also have different
energy features based on the era in which they were built. Pre-Second World
War homes, for instance, benefit big-time from energy-saving improvements as
many of the techniques and construction materials used in them are now
obsolete. Split-level homes are prone to air leakage problems, especially
where the second floor meets the attic of the lower section or where the
crawl space meets the basement. Bungalows built in the 1960s and 1970s leak
air at the ceiling and the header area.
Being in a position to take the energy pulse of a property will put you
ahead of your colleagues. Clients will appreciate your expertise and you’ll
take pride knowing that you’ve done the right thing for our environment by
taking the high road.
For more information about how to help your clients green their homes, visit
Elden Freeman B.A., M.E.S, broker is the founder and executive director of
the non-profit National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB).
Freeman believes that Realtors across Canada can play an important role in
educating their clients on increasing energy efficiency and reducing
greenhouse gas emissions. (416) 536-7325;