Greenrealestate: Help clients save by going green

Green Real Estate Jan 6, 2011

shoppingcartBy 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;