Energy Efficiency

Total Home Energy Use - Then and Now.

What could be more exciting than a brand new home with all of the features and benefits to suit your family’s lifestyle, wants and needs? How about all that and knowing your new home is not only new, but energy efficient?

Have you thought much about what that means for your home and why it has such a huge importance for families, the construction industry and the environment? Without a doubt, energy efficiency has received growing interest among most new homebuyers who want to buy or build a home that will use less energy. Energy savings makes sense, especially in an era where energy costs continue to increase, year after year.

Through various energy testings and comparisons, it is evident that both new homes and new cars are more efficient today than in 1975. However, a recent study done by the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) took an actual comparison of an Ottawa-built home in 1975, complete with archived construction specifications, with a computer simulation for exactly the same-sized house built using today’s specifications.

The results showed the 1975 home reached an EnerGuide rating of only 41, while the home built today was rated as an 80. In overall terms, the same home built today used 66% less energy for all purposes – heating, lighting and everyday living.

“We know we have increased the energy efficiency of new homes over the years, but this study allows us to know just how significant this increase has been,” says Paul Pettipas, Nova Scotia Home Builders’
Association chief executive officer. “In Nova Scotia we continue to push the envelope with energy efficiency and the results we have seen from our builders show us they are not only making energy efficiency a priority, which results in an increase in their building science knowledge, but it also means there are increased savings for home-owners that start from the day they move into their new home.”

Pettipas adds that if builders aren’t talking about the benefits of energy efficiency, homeowners need to be asking the questions. Find out what the builder does in terms of ensuring the homeowner has peace of mind that their home has been built with energy efficiency as a priority.

Having the home rated through the EnerGuide for New Houses (Energy Rating System) or R-2000 programs offered by the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association is one step a homeowner and builder can take to make sure the home meets or exceeds current energy performance requirements in new homes.

Every commercial, every ad, everywhere you turn, there is always information about how fuel efficient a new car is and the decreased impact it has on the environment. Of course, this is wonderful. However, if you compare a new car’s efficiency from 1975 and a new home’s efficiency from the same time period, guess what? There is a big difference!

All changes and energy efficiency savings are good, but where do you spend the most time? Which would you prefer to be the most efficient choice? For many, it would undoubtably be their home.

So what kind of energy efficiency savings over time have cars made? Overall, depending on the car, the increase in energy efficiency since 1975 ranges from just under 4% to almost 16%.

You may also be interested to know that the energy efficiency of a new home outpaces a new car by greater than four times in terms of efficiency. Significant? That would be a resounding YES!

Bottom line, make energy efficiency a priority for your new home and you will reap the rewards for years to come.

The NSHBA will host its annual Energy Efficiency Showcase of Homes from May 18 – June 9 with energy efficient homes open for viewing on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 pm – 4 pm.

For more information on the house locations contact the NSHBA at 450-5554 / 1-800-668-2001 or visit


Sherry Donovan

Sherry Donovan

Sherry Donovan is Communications Director for the Nova Scotia Home Builders' Association. She is a regular contributer to various local media and currently has columns appearing in Halifax Metro News and The Chronicle Herald's Homesetc publication.