Five places you can look when evaluating a home for energy efficiency.

 

If you’re thinking about buying a new home, you probably hope it’s energy efficient. Not only is it better for the environment, you’ll save money, too.

 

With that in mind, here are five places you can look when evaluating a home for energy efficiency.

 

Windows

 

Most windows have two panes; some have three. Hold a flashlight to a window and count the reflections to see how many panes it has. The more panes, the better the window.

 

Also, make sure to check window orientation. Windows on the south side of a home gain solar heat in the winter and reduce your heat bills. West-facing windows can cause the house to overheat, increasing summer air conditioning bills.

 

Water Heater

 

Plan to replace a hot water tank that is more than eight to 10 years old. Newer tanks are a bit more efficient than the older ones, but not by much.

 

The best option? Tankless hot water heaters. Christenson recommends going with gas-heated devices rather than the electric version. Electric hot water tanks are still efficient but cost more to operate.

 

Furnace

 

If there’s a drain from the furnace to a sewer outlet and there are two pipes coming from the top, the furnace is likely high-efficiency.

 

Others will cost you more to operate and may soon need to be replaced.

 

Check the installation date. High-efficiency furnaces have been code in Alberta since 2007. Look for the EnerGuide label sticker to see the amount of energy the furnace consumes. A rating between 66 and 74 means that energy-efficient upgrades have been made to an existing home, while anything above a 75 means that it’s a new house built to meet or exceed efficiency standards.

 

Insulation

 

To get an idea of what the house contains, check the front door jamb. Most homes built after the early ’80s will have a 6 ½ inch jamb, while earlier homes will have a 4 ½ inch jamb. This indicates the amount of insulation in the home.

 

Typical older insulation is rated at R-12, while newer homes are R-19 or R-20. R-20 stops almost twice the heat loss of R-12.

 

Sometimes people have updated older homes, so don’t be surprised to find thicker walls in older houses. Thicker is usually better. New homes may have a high-density insulation in their walls, so check the builder’s specifications.

 

Home Rating

 

Natural Resources Canada has an energy rating system for new and existing homes: EnerGuide.

 

You can look for a rating label on the home’s electrical panel. Or the homeowner may have the report available.

 

Or you can have the home assessed after you move in.

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