Have you ever heard of a “green home”? Some Canadians might associate the term with one of the most famous green homes – the one in PEI where Anne of Green Gables lived! But we’re not talking about the colour green; we’re talking about homes that are environmentally friendly.
This article explains what green homes are, their benefits, and how to properly insure your green home. Keep reading to learn more!
What is a green home?
Simply put, a green home is one that’s designed to be environmentally sustainable so that it uses water, energy and building materials to the highest efficiency.
Note that in Canada, there is no official designation that defines a green home. It’s simply a general way to describe a home that has elements of sustainability.
Here are a few of the things that can make your home “green”:
Green homes maximize the resources offered by the home’s surroundings without harming them. They also take advantage of the local climate. For instance, if practical, green homes are oriented to face south to maximize solar heat gain.
The physical materials used to construct a green home should be locally sourced, biodegradable, non-toxic, repurposed, and/or renewable.
Green homes use energy-efficient appliances and strategic insulation and ventilation methods that reduce artificial heating and cooling as much as possible.
To conserve water, a green home uses efficient plumbing fixtures or a rainwater recapture system. The landscaping might include native plants, which require less water than their non-native counterparts.
Steps to turn your home into a green home
Many homes being built today are built from a perspective of sustainability. If you have a house that’s a bit older, it may not have been built with the environment in mind. Here are a few things you can do to make your home more sustainable and environmentally friendly:
- Upgrade your home’s insulation
- Go for double or triple window glazing
- Invest in solar panels
- Reclaim and reuse building materials when doing repairs or building additions
- Decorate with up-cycled materials
- Install underfloor (radiant) heating
There are also small measures you can take that will make your home more environmentally friendly. Here are a few ideas:
- Buy appliances with Energy Star ratings. These products are tested and certified to meet guidelines for energy efficiency. You can learn more about Energy Star products on the Government of Canada’s website.
- Swap incandescent light bulbs for LED lights that use a fraction of the electricity.
- Unplug the biggest energy drains when they are not in use, such as: TVs, computers, printers, video game consoles, microwave ovens, and cell phone chargers when you’re not using them. Make it easier on yourself by simply switching off everything on a power strip!
- Turn up the temperature setting on your air conditioner by two degrees in the summer and turn down your heat by two degrees in the winter to save up to 2,000 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
- Use cold water for your laundry to save 80% on your energy consumption while washing your clothes.
- Seal up air leaks in windows and doors to prevent energy loss.
These tips and tricks won’t just make your home more environmentally friendly, they can also save money on your utility bills!
Examples of green materials you can use for a green home
Some materials are better for the environment than others. If you are planning to renovate or make improvements to your home, consider using materials that are sustainably sourced. Here are a few examples of materials to consider:
Flooring made from recycled tire rubber is a great way to divert tires from the landfill. If you are building a home-gym, this is a great flooring material to consider. It’s slip resistant and easy to install.
Why is bamboo an environmentally friendly option? This material grows quickly, which means you won’t be depleting forests of trees. This is a durable and stylish option.
Natural plasters can be used as an alternative to paint to decorate your walls. Materials such as natural clay and lime can are a few examples of the alternatives available. These materials can also improve your indoor air quality through the absorption of toxins and odours.
A living roof, also known as a green roof, is a roof that is partially or completely covered with vegetation and plants. Some of the benefits of a green roof can include:
- Absorption of rainwater, which can reduce flooding
- Additional insulation, which can keep your home warm in the winter and cool in the summer
- Lower urban air temperature
- They look cool!
Protect your new green home
If you have made any renovations to your home to make it more environmentally friendly, it’s important to let your insurance broker know! Home improvements can have an impact on your home insurance, so always keep your broker in the loop.
If you have questions about how green home renovations can impact your home insurance, give BrokerLink a call! Our experts are always ready to chat.
FAQs for Green Home Renovations
Are green homes better than traditional homes?
A home that is more sustainable and environmentally friendly is certainly ideal! However, any home can be made more “green” by taking simple steps such as buying Energy Star appliances, using cold water to do laundry and switching to LED lightbulbs.
What is a net zero energy home?
According to the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, a net zero energy home is one that produces as much energy as it consumes. It is up to 80% more energy efficient than a traditionally built home.
Are green homes more expensive to build?
That depends on many different factors. Materials and housing costs vary depending on where you live in Canada. You also have to consider the energy savings you might get from living in a more sustainable home.