Curbing Your Home’s Contribution to Climate Change
A need for change
It has taken humans centuries to raise the standard of living to where it is today, but only recently have be become fully aware at what cost.
According to scientists and economists from around the world, immediate and drastic action is needed to limit the fallout of climate change. To protect the environment and conserve our limited resources, leaders across the globe are focusing on implementing regulations to reduce environmental impact and encourage future sustainability.
In the housing industry, that means raising the national building code standard to achieve higher energy efficiency ratings, modifying behaviours to reduce overall energy consumption, and using renewable energy sources, high-performance materials, and energy-saving appliances to further reduce our energy needs and reliance on fossil fuels.
The new standard for building
Currently, buildings produce 17% of Canada’s greenhouse gases (GHGs), much of which can be attributed to the fossil fuel needed to provide heating and cooling to those spaces. To help offset GHGs associated with buildings, the federal government is working with provinces and territories to develop a building code that requires all new buildings to meet Net Zero Ready labelling standards by 2030.
Additionally, it’s estimated that by 2030, 75% of the country’s total buildings will be existing structures, making a retrofit code equally as important so that those buildings may be brought up to higher standards of energy efficiency as well. If all new builds can meet Net Zero Ready standards by 2030, and further, to Net Zero by 2050, Canada will be well-poised to achieve net zero emissions by 2050.
But to meet those goals, change must begin now.
Behind the scenes, organizations like the Canadian Home Builders’ Association – New Brunswick (CHBA-NB) are working hard to educate consumers and train builders so that both groups will be ready when those new standards come into effect, and Net Zero Ready becomes the baseline for new construction. The CHBA-NB’s Registered Energy Efficient Builder Program was designed for just this purpose – to offer FREE (thanks to the Environmental Trust Fund) proactive training to builders who want to be future-ready now, and to help consumers better understand their energy efficiency options and the long-term impact energy efficient housing will have, not only on the environment, but on their health and bank accounts, too.
Change starts at home
While governments and industry partners are enacting change on the regulatory level and investing in incentives to make energy efficiency training and upgrades financially accessible, consumers will also play a pivotal role in ensuring Canada hits its net zero emission target for 2050, mainly through increasing demand for energy efficient housing and implementing behavioural changes within the home to reduce overall energy consumption
Are you a homeowner ready to take action in the fight against climate change? Here are a few ways you can get started on your journey to increasing energy efficiency at home:
1) If you’re considering building a new home, invest in upgrades to make it more energy efficient. Check out the Canadian Home Builders’ Association Net Zero Home Labelling Program – it has become an important stepping stone in Canada’s pursuit of sustainable housing.
The average Canadian home uses about 100 gigajoules of energy per year. An ENERGY STAR® certified home (which is 20% more energy efficient than homes built to the national standard building code) saves approximately 17 gigajoules of energy per year. This is equivalent to the energy used in running a refrigerator for 10 years or washing 1,700 loads of laundry. Imagine how much more energy you’d save with a Net Zero home that operates at 100% efficiency!
Don’t forget to ask your contractor about homeowner incentives, too. From discounts on your mortgage insurance to grants to offset the upfront costs to upgrade the energy efficiency of your home, now’s the time to take advantage of financial benefits that make getting into a more efficient home easier.
2) Love your current home, but have concerns about energy efficiency? Now’s the time to renovate! Start with an energy audit to determine where your home is underperforming and then work with a Registered Energy Efficient Builder or Renovator and a licensed Energy Advisor to bring your home’s energy efficiency up a notch. Even if you can’t reach Net Zero status, any improvements can have a big, long-term impact.
Just like with new home builds, there are incentives available to homeowners to help offset the costs associated with energy efficient renovations. Make sure to ask your contractor and financial institution which ones you qualify for!
3) Swap out fixtures. Replace regular bulbs with energy-efficient alternatives and install programmable thermostats to help you regulate your home’s heating.
4) Appliances on the fritz? Replace them with more energy efficient models! For instance, an ENERGY STAR® certified clothes dryer uses 20% less energy than a regular model. Save twice by pairing it with an ENERGY STAR® certified clothes washer.
5) A few changes in your daily habits can also go a long way, too! Shorter showers, only running the dishwasher when it’s full, making sure your home’s air system is cleaned regularly, turning off lights when you leave the room, and ensuring electronics are plugged into a smart power bar to avoid energy use when they’re in standby mode, are just a few ways you can reduce your energy consumption.
We only have one planet to call home, so let’s all do our part to take care of it and slow climate change. Whether you’re able to make big changes today, or need to focus on small habits at home, the most important thing is we all contribute to the cause.