Renovations and Home Energy Savings

Many Canadian homeowners are looking for ways to reduce their utility bills and environmental impact. Small changes like using fluorescent, energy-saving light bulbs or participating in a recycling program are a good start. If you're looking to make a bigger impact on home energy savings and improve your home at the same time, consider these three environmentally friendly home renovations and upgrades.

1. Replace old appliances with new, energy-efficient ones

Using an old refrigerator, dishwasher, clothes washer and dryer can run up your energy bill while creating more waste. Their older systems, bigger motors, and wear and tear cause them to consume a lot of energy. If your appliances are at least 10 years old, they're very likely big energy drains. Even if they still work, they don't work as well as newer, energy-efficient models.

As your appliances age, shop for new ones that come highly rated by EnerGuide. Sometimes stores will help you recycle your old appliance or even offer a slight discount on the purchase of a new model if you'll be getting rid of an old clunker. So, while there is some up front cost to upgrading your appliances, you can expect your gas and electric bills to decrease, resulting in home energy savings over time. Plus, in some cases you can even take advantage of government rebates and incentives.

2. Update your home's insulation

In Canada, there's no escaping the cold. For the owners of older homes, the low temperatures can often translate into sky-high heating bills. A big culprit here can be old insulation. Today's fiberglass materials are much more successful at regulating your home's temperature. Additionally, old insulation can crumble or compress, becoming less effective over time because it no longer seals your house against the elements. If your home's insulation is 15 or 20 years old, it may no longer be performing effectively.

If this is the case, contact insulation contractors. They can safely remove old insulation and install new fiberglass insulation, which will last for dozens of years. While you're assessing your insulation needs, you may also want to pay special attention to rooms like the attic, sunroom and additions. If they were never insulated or properly sealed, they can allow a lot of heat to escape. Have the contractor inspect those walls and ceilings as well.

3. Invest in new windows and doors

Following the upgrade to your insulation, investigate replacing old windows and doors. The outdated technology of storm windows has given way to new, energy-efficient windows that reflect sunlight in the summer and block cold air in the winter. They also seal tightly to avoid air leaks. Another perk is that new windows have better locks and are more secure.

Doors can have many of the same problems as windows. Old doors, especially wooden ones, will expand and contract with the weather. Over time, this means they won't seal as tightly as they once did. If they contain glass, they may have only a single sheet, which does a poor job of keeping the heat inside. If you stand next to your door in the winter and feel a cold draft coming from underneath or around it, you know your door isn't saving you money on home energy.

Get quotes from several companies that sell windows and doors. Compare their products to find units that are more energy-efficient than your current windows and doors but also fit your budget. In the long run, you can reduce your heating bills by as much as 10% or 15%. If the costs of replacing all the windows and doors at once is too steep, you could consider doing it in phases by replacing those that the face the street all at once or perhaps just the first floor.

Start renovating your home to be more eco-friendly

To get home energy savings, consider taking out a CIBC Home Power Plan®, which gives you access to ongoing funds, or a personal loan. Both can be secured, which allows you to borrow more at a lower interest rate. Plus, a line of credit can be accessed through debit cards, online, bank machines and more, so it's there whenever you need it.

With flexible repayment terms and competitive interest rates, you can add resale value to your home with these renovations while saving money on your home energy bills. If you have questions about your loan options, you can call a CIBC advisor at 1-866-294-5964.

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