Old Home / New Energy Tricks

YOUR HOME: Energy efficiency: CMHC offers a free fact sheet

By Mark Salerno, Special to QMI Agency

There are many ways you can make your house more energy efficient to conserve energy and save money on your utility bills. But specific home designs come with unique energy-efficient retrofit challenges and opportunities. For example, the numerous one-and-a-half-storey houses built in all parts of Canada between 1945 and 1960 have many design and construction features that affect the type of measures that can be used to reduce energy consumption and increase comfort.

In the early postwar years, many of these modest houses had a finished floor area of less than 1,200 square feet and included unfinished basements, bedrooms within the roof space, and living area on the main floor. Many had additions later such as dormers and closed-in porches.

Drafts are common problems with older one-and-a-half-storey houses. The average house of this vintage could have an opening of roughly 13 x 13 inches.

The major areas for air sealing in this type of house are the ceiling and the knee wall on the upper floor, the edge of the floor platform on the ground floor and the attic.

If you plan to redo the siding on your house, it’s a great opportunity to increase insulation and air sealing. Insulation can be blown into any empty wall cavities from the outside. If the wall cavities are already insulated, add a layer of exterior insulation and a house-wrap air barrier. If you can replace windows with better-performing units, the combined retrofit can give your older house a facelift, better energy efficiency and higher levels of comfort.

Houses from this era may still have their original furnace or boiler. If the furnace has been replaced, it may be an older, low-efficiency unit that is only about 68% efficient. If so, consider replacing your warm-air furnace or boiler with a new high-efficiency unit.

If the new furnace vents directly to the outside and doesn’t need a chimney, the old abandoned chimney should be capped and sealed to reduce heat loss.

Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers free Renovating for Energy Savings fact sheets at www.cmhc.ca or call 1-800-668-2642.

Mark Salerno is district manager for the Greater Toronto Area at Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. You can reach him at 416-218-3479 or at msalerno@cmhc.ca.

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