A more efficient home may be one of the best investments you ever make. Unlike many home upgrades, energy efficiency is an investment that will provide ongoing monthly savings from reduced energy bills.
The PerformancePlus rebate program provides builders and Nova Scotians planning their homes with expert advice on their new home plans to help build in better energy efficiency choices. Building a PerformancePlus home is a solid investment that begins to provide a return almost immediately. The up-front costs of energy upgrades are fixed when you build, but savings continue to rise each time energy prices increase.
There are many ways to increase your new home’s EnerGuide rating. The exact impact of specific upgrades will depend on how your new home is designed, orientated on the lot and the products you choose to build it with. You will be provided with detailed advice tailored to your specific situation when you register your new home plans with a PerformancePlus service provider.
The most cost effective time to improve the energy efficiency of a new home is at the design stage. When designing your home, keep the following in mind:
• Smaller homes use less energy… and cost less to build.
• Avoid unnecessary projections and design features (such as dormers or extra corners) that increase the exposed surface area of the building.
• Large bungalows, especially with heated slabs, tend to reduce EnerGuide ratings since all ceiling and floor surfaces are exposed to heat loss. Multi-level homes usually have less exterior surface area per cubic foot of interior volume.
• Take advantage of the sun. Passive solar heating can supply a third or more of your home's heating requirements for free. The key is to face windows and the rooms you use during the day towards the south.
Reducing a building's heating requirements is always the best way to minimize heating bills. Reducing the amount of energy you need to purchase also protects your household energy budget from future fuel price increases. Increasing insulation levels to upgrade the R value of poorly insulated surfaces (walls, attics, basements, basement floor slabs, windows and doors) provides the largest savings.
Water heating is a year round energy load, so it pays to heat water efficiently. Very efficient homes can actually use more energy for water heating than for space heating. Installing energy and water efficient appliances, insulating hot water pipes and water heater tanks, and investing in an efficient water heating system can all save on water heating costs. Solar hot water systems and drain water heat recovery systems may also be good options for your new home.
Many new home buyers believe that their future energy costs will depend primarily on the type of heating system they select. They don't realize that the heating system's sole function is to replace heat lost by the building. The more efficient the building, the less energy the heating system needs to supply and the less it will cost to operate – forever. So the most efficient and cost effective heating system is nearly always … an energy efficient building. The energy you don't need to buy will never go up in price.
By carefully planning your new home’s energy efficiency features you can get generous rebates now, and save on energy bills year after year.