Greening your Home
Older buildings can be environmentally friendly without compromising their character defining features.
Before hiring an energy advisor, prepare a list of aspects of your home that you value. Traditionally constructed buildings feature character-defining elements that should remain untouched in accordance with the Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada.
- Seal the worst leaks. Repair holes and gaps in a way that is complementary to existing finishes and that will have a long life expectancy.
- Close fireplace dampers when not in use.
- Insulate uninsulated walls. Blown cellulose (recycled newsprint), incorporating a borax additive, does not slump within the wall cavity.
- Insulate the attic at ceiling level, and when re-roofing insulate roof structures over dormers by removing sheathing or blowing in insulation.
- Ideally, overhaul (ease, strip, repaint, replace cords, wax sash grooves, weather strip, etc.) windows at the same time as insulating the wall and add interior or exterior storms.
- Don’t incorporate a vapour barrier. Interior moisture vapour is generally inhibited from entering the walls by layers of paint. Moisture entering from the exterior tends to dry out by itself through evaporation and convection.
- Avoid mixing building components made for sealed building envelopes (such as modern plastic and aluminum replacement windows) with traditional building envelopes.
Heating & Insulation
- Particularly in coastal B.C., an air-source heat pump can be used to heat air for distribution through an existing ducted air system or to heat water for radiators. In colder climates, a ground-source heat pump for heating may be the right choice.
- Consider going to an electric, gas or propane tankless hot water system.
- Retrieve waste heat from your soil and vent pipe with a heat exchanger.
- Seek federal government grants for these technologies. [LINK:
- Purchase a lagging kit (an insulating cloak) for your hot water tank.
- Caulking and sealing cracks will help to minimize air leaks in windows and keep cold air out in the winter.
- Install a heat shrink film if you rent or can’t commit to repairs.
- Consider installing storm windows. Storm windows (also known as storm sashes) are additional layers of glazing that are fixed to either the exterior or interior of your existing windows.
- Reduce the amount of new materials manufactured by repairing rather than replacing materials.
- Reuse old materials that have been recovered from demolished buildings.
- Recycle materials that cannot be repaired.