Wise Energy Guide Booklet
Energy Guide
At Union Gas, we take the word ‘conservation’
to heart. It’s our goal to help you conserve natural
gas with this Wise Energy Guide. The guide was
created to inform you of the best possible ways
to improve energy efficiency, use less energy and
still enjoy a warm, welcoming home.
The Wise Energy Guide can help you save on
energy bills, live comfortably and protect the
environment. Stewardship – caring about people
and the world we live in – is one of Union Gas’
business values. And the Wise Energy Guide is
a great place to start. It gives you the power to
take control and manage energy use in and
around your home.
In keeping with our goal of conservation, we
use recycled paper and environmentally-friendly
inks to produce this guide.
As you can see, together, we all make a difference.
Wise Energy Guide
Why it’s important to trim your energy use.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Understanding energy and your home.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
• Your home works as a system. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
• Keeping your system balanced. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
• Reducing winter condensation problems.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Manage my bill.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11
Getting started on an energy plan. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
• Rebates and incentives.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Equipment solutions.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
The product options. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
• Gas furnaces.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
• Space heaters and wall furnaces. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
• Combo hydronic baseboard.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
• Combo radiant floor heating.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
• Combo fan coil and forced air. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
• Fireplaces.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
• Water heaters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
• Other natural gas appliances. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
Efficient use of heating, cooling, ventilating equipment, appliances & lighting
• Furnaces and air-conditioning. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22
• Thermostats. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
• Fireplaces.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26
• Water heaters. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27
• Exhaust fans.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28
• Appliances. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29
• Lighting.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30
Building envelope solutions and simple tips
• Air sealing. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32
• Insulation. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35
Looking for more information. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39
Home Energy Checklist.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . between 20 - 21
trim energy use
Why it’s important to trim energy use
These days, more Canadians are
The following sections can help reduce
becoming concerned about energy
your energy use even further. They provide
efficiency. And for good reasons, too!
valuable ideas on cutting heating costs,
First of all, when you save energy,
you save money on your energy bills.
The less energy you use, the more
money you save. It’s simple! Second,
when your home is more energy
efficient, it’s more comfortable.
No more drafts…cold floors…leaky
windows. It makes a difference in
the winter and in the summer!
air sealing, insulating, dealing with moisture
problems, and efficiency tips for operating
water heaters, appliances, air-conditioners
and lighting. Most of them don’t require any
technical skills – and you can usually find
the required tools and some of the materials
required around your home.
This guide is only a starting point for
many projects - you may require further
information to complete a job. Check
That’s why Union Gas has put together
out chapter seven for a listing of other
this guide for you. You’ll find it contains
free publications on conserving energy
a wealth of valuable information to help
in your home.
you improve the energy efficiency of
your home!
To help you plan your energy projects,
we’ve created a Home Energy Checklist
We’ve organized it so it’s easy to read
insert. Work your way through your home
and understand. Included in this guide
with the checklist, then make a list
are many simple and inexpensive
of the projects you want to tackle first.
energy-saving tips that can help you
If your project requires the expertise of
save money and become more
a professional contractor, make sure you
energy efficient.
obtain competitive price quotes to help
Changing your habits and attitudes
you make your decision. Then go to it!
toward how you use energy can result
We hope you find this guide
in energy savings.
useful. If you’re looking for
If you are a current natural gas user
you’re already reducing your impact
on the environment by using natural
gas energy. However, you must still be
careful to use all types of energy wisely.
additional information or
know of anyone who would
like to order or download
the guide, visit
energy home
Understanding energy and your home
Here’s how it works. With the first sign
the fan removes the moisture-laden air and
of cold weather, your home starts to
replaces it with cool, dry, outdoor air, which
cool down and someone in your home
is drawn in through the home’s cracks and
will likely turn on the furnace. As you
leaks. In this case, the moisture, heat, and air
and your home adjust to the temperature
flows are being adjusted in your home.
changes outside, you will adjust the
thermostat accordingly – either by
turning it up to make your home
warmer, or turning it down to make
it cooler. Adjusting the temperature
is an action that balances the heat flows
in your home.
So, as you can see, your home is in a
constant balancing act. And this balancing
act can have a significant impact on the
energy efficiency of your home, and
therefore on your home comfort and the
amount you spend on your energy bills!
As the weather warms up and spring
arrives, you’ll notice that you and your
neighbours begin to open the windows
in your homes. Everyone wants to enjoy
the fresh, fragrant spring air! By opening
the windows, you move the air around
in your home – sending the stuffy air out
and bringing the fresh spring air inside.
By doing this, you are adjusting the air
flows in your home.
Then in the summertime, when the
humidity levels are high, you may either
turn on the air-conditioner (if you have
one) or a dehumidifier. By doing this,
you’re controlling the moisture flows
in your home.
Sometimes these flows work together.
For example, in the winter when you
take a shower, you may turn the exhaust
fan on. When the exhaust fan is running,
Understanding energy and your home
Your home works as a system
It is important to understand how your house functions when
The amount of insulation and air leakage
planning major retrofit work. This will ensure the retrofit will
in the building envelope will determine
meet your expectations and won’t cause new problems while
its relative resistance to air, heat and
solving the old. Though this may sound complicated, it’s a
moisture flows. For example, in the
simple question of balance. To be comfortable, energy efficient,
winter, if there is too much air flow
and safe – the air, moisture, and heat flows of your house must
through the building envelope via air
operate as a balanced system.
leaks, the warm, moist indoor air will
So before undertaking any major renovations, homeowners
and contractors must ask- “What are the potential reactions to
the work I am about to do?” “How can I avoid those problems
from occurring in the first place?”
As you already know, no two homes are the same. However,
whether your home is new or old, a bungalow or two storey,
all homes have four common elements that include:
1 Building Envelope
2 Outside Environment
3 Mechanical Systems
4 Occupants
The first step when looking at your house as a system is
understanding how the potential interaction of these four elements
can affect your home’s air, heat and moisture flows. Understanding
these relationships is the secret to avoiding problems!
1 Building Envelope
be forced out – drawing in the cold,
dry outdoor air. This creates a very dry,
drafty, uncomfortable home that can be
very expensive to heat.
Furthermore, as the warm, moist air
exits, it can cause structural damage if
it becomes trapped and condenses in the
walls and the attic. Moisture must exit
through controlled openings such
as open windows and exhaust fans to
avoid damage to building materials.
Likewise, if the building envelope
in your home has little air leakage,
and there is no provision for ventilation
and combustion air to be introduced
to the home through controlled means,
you may have a problem with your fuel
The first element of your home’s system is the building envelope.
burning appliances venting properly.
This is what separates the indoor living space from the outdoor
This situation could be hazardous to
environment. It is made up of all the materials and exterior
your health. In addition, without proper
surfaces in the building “shell” – the walls, ceiling, windows,
ventilation, moisture levels could rise
doors, and floors.
encouraging the growth of mold.
Understanding energy and your home
By air sealing and insulating your home’s building envelope, you
reduce the amount of outside air entering your home through the
cracks and leaks. This is a balancing act. You must still provide
enough dry outside air to enter the home for the combustion
appliances, its occupants, and to reduce moisture levels in the home
– but yet reduce the amount of air flow into the home to provide a
comfortable, cost effective home. You must find the “right” balance
for you and your home.
2 Outside Environment
The second element in understanding how your home works as a
system – is the outdoors! Although you expect your home to shelter
and protect you from external environmental conditions such as
3 Mechanical Systems
The third element to consider when
looking at your house as a system
is your home’s mechanical systems.
This includes all equipment and
appliances used for space heating
(including fireplaces) and cooling; indoor
humidification and de-humidification;
air exhaust and supply; water heating;
lighting; and laundry. These systems
add or remove heat, moisture and air
from your home’s indoor space.
precipitation, wind, sun, heat and cold, it sometimes fails to do so
Understanding how these mechanical
because of the intensity of the environmental conditions and/or the
systems operate is very important
condition of the building envelope.
since they depend on the air, heat, and
For example, prevailing winds can whistle right through your home,
bringing in cold air and robbing your home of its heat and moisture.
moisture flows of your home to operate
safely and efficiently.
Climate conditions will affect the level of moisture present in the
For example, the mechanical systems
outside air as well as the level of ground water and ground frost.
which require combustion air can be
A high water table around your home’s foundation walls may
increase the amount of moisture seeping into the basement through
the concrete walls. The effect of the sun providing free heat in the
winter and overheating in the summer depends on the orientation of
your home, as well as the amount of window glazing and shading.
affected if the building envelope is
tightened by an extensive reduction
of air flow through comprehensive air
sealing, the installation of new windows,
increased insulation levels, etc. A lack
of combustion air creates the potential
Many aspects of your home’s external environment cannot be
for poor venting of combustion
changed, but other elements of the house can be improved to
by-products. This is a potential health
minimize the impact. For example, air sealing will reduce the wind’s
hazard and one of the key reasons
effect; adding insulation will reduce heat flows through the walls
that you should understand how your
and attic; opening and closing blinds and drapes at appropriate times
home can work as a system, prior to
will capture/reduce the sun’s heat; and landscaping will improve
undertaking any major retrofit work.
drainage and provide wind and sun protection.
Understanding energy and your home
Your home may require direct combustion air. A knowledgeable
mechanical contractor can assist with testing and providing
combustion air needs.
Now that the four elements of your
home’s system have been identified
Operation and maintenance of this equipment is also important
– the building envelope, the outside
in creating a healthy balance in your home’s system. This
environment, the mechanical systems
equipment impacts the air, heat and moisture flows of your
and the occupants – it’s a little easier
home. For example, venting an electric clothes dryer into your
to understand how they interact.
home may provide additional heat, but it will also introduce
It’s also important to realize that
moisture, odours and lint into your home. If your home can’t
maintaining a healthy balance in your
handle the extra moisture, you may experience condensation
home’s system can have a profound
problems. In addition, the lint and odours can be sources of
effect on your home’s comfort and your
health problems, and may actually aggravate asthma and
energy bills! In many cases, it’s up to
allergy problems.
you to do a little homework to ensure
4 Occupants
that the balance is kept. Here are a
couple of actual case studies that will
You may not realize it, but you and your loved ones have an
help give you a better idea of how your
important effect on your home’s system! The number of people
home works as a system.
and pets living in your home, as well as their lifestyles, is the
fourth element of your home’s system.
For example, the number of showers, the use or non-use of
exhaust fans, the amount of cooking, and the operation of
humidifiers can all have an effect on the amount of moisture
being produced in your home. There is an increased need for
ventilation when moisture levels rise too high. However, many
people hesitate to open windows because they are concerned
about losing heat and do not use exhaust fans because they are
too noisy or are perceived to expel too much heated air.
It is often said that heat, air and moisture flows in a house
depends on the number of children and pets, and how often they
go in and out of doors! There is some truth to this – for example,
in the winter, when the front door is opened, there is a rush of
cold air into the house. The cold air is able to rush in because the
air inside the home has a place to exit (i.e. into the attic, through
cracks around windows, etc.). The air exiting the house takes heat
and moisture with it and cool, dry outside air is drawn in thus
cooling the house and lowering its moisture levels.
Understanding the relationship
Case study: Installing new windows
In this first case study, you’ve decided
to replace your old windows with new
energy-efficient ones. Once installed,
you’re pleased with the way your new
windows look and operate, and are glad
that they’re so easy to clean! You look
forward to winter this year, knowing
your home will be more energy efficient
and comfortable.
But – as the cold weather sets in, you
find condensation dripping down
several windows. You thought you’d left
condensation problems behind with the
old leaky windows! * Natural gas dryers, for safety reasons,
should NEVER be vented indoors.
Understanding energy and your home
You call the window contractor to complain that the windows are
defective. But instead of admitting fault, he says that in fact, the
windows have proven that they are airtight and properly installed.
He explains further that the old windows were very cold and leaky,
and easily allowed even the smallest amount of moisture in the
air to condense on them. However, much of the moisture passed
through to the outside. Since the moisture now has fewer exit
points through the building shell with your new windows, your
Heat moves out of the house in all
home’s humidity level has increased. When your home’s humidity
levels increase to this point, condensation can occur easily on any
surface that is slightly cooler than your home’s air – like the surface
of your new windows. So even though your new windows are more
energy efficient and warmer than your old ones, if the humidity levels
are higher, the window surface can still be cool enough to force
moisture to condense.
The reduction in air exchange in your home due to the tighter
windows is good, but now you have to take more control of your
home’s ventilation needs. Using your kitchen and bathroom
Case study: A woodburning
fireplace backdrafts!
The backdrafting of a woodburning
fireplace is often a sign that your home’s
system is out of balance.
exhaust fans more often, or by opening a window once in a while
What is backdrafting and how can it
will help to eliminate odours and excess moisture; in turn, forcing
be avoided? Combustion appliances,
fresh outdoor air to enter your home. How much do you control
that use a chimney for exhaust, like
or reduce it? To the point that condensation no longer appears on
woodburning fireplaces, natural gas
the window surface and/or the air smells fresh inside your home.
or oil furnaces and water heaters,
The goal of home renovations is to “build tight and ventilate right.”
need a source of air to operate safely
The key is for you to be in control of the ventilation, not the wind
and efficiently. Backdrafting occurs
whistling through the cracks and leaks in your building envelope!
when there is insufficient air for the
(for more information on controlling moisture refer to page nine
combustion process and the by-products
Reducing Winter Condensation Problems and check out the
of combustion, such as carbon monoxide
government websites noted in the last chapter).
(CO), are drawn back into the house
Was the contractor at fault? No. Were the windows faulty? No.
The mistake the contractor made was not warning you about
instead of venting safely up the chimney.
Carbon monoxide is an odourless,
the potential for condensation. His explanation shows that he
colourless, tasteless gas that is harmful
understands how your home works as a system, but he failed to
even in low doses. Every house with a
share this with you before he installed your new windows. The
combustion appliance should have a CO
secret to avoiding problems is in understanding the relationship
detector installed in the sleeping area.
between the elements of your home’s system and the air, heat and
For additional resource information see
moisture flows.
chapter seven.
Understanding energy and your home
Can home renovations cause backdrafting? Yes. One or a
combination of the following renovations can reduce enough
of the natural air supply (leaking in through cracks around
windows, etc.) to your woodburning fireplace, that it could cause
combustion by-products to be drawn back down the chimney!
1 Adding rigid board insulation to the outside walls behind
new siding or brick.
2 Extensive air sealing.
3 New energy-efficient windows.
4 Increasing basement, wall and attic insulation.
How can you tell if your woodburning fireplace is backdrafting?
Some of the precautions you can take
You’ll be able to smell the smoke if the combustion by-products
to prevent backdrafting include:
are entering the room instead of exiting up the chimney. You may
also notice that the smoke has stained the brickwork above the
fireplace, and/or it is difficult to light the fire.
In some homes, backdrafting is only experienced at certain times
and may not be linked to renovations. Check to see if an exhaust
fan or clothes dryer is operating while the woodburning fireplace
is in use. Exhaust fans and clothes dryers expel air from the house,
and may compete for air with your woodburning fireplace and
other combustion appliances. Outside air enters the home through
cracks to replace the air which has exited through the exhaust fans
or dryer, rebalancing the air pressure in your home. If the outside
air cannot be drawn in through baseboard, window and basement
equipment, vents, or flues
• Never insulate or try to seal up a
draft hood, wind cap, or exhaust vent
on any natural gas appliance
• It is absolutely essential, for your
safety, that panels and grills on the
furnace are kept in place and that
the fan compartment door is closed
when the furnace is operating
• If you have a natural gas water
wall cracks, it will pull from the next easiest source – the chimney,
heater, make sure that combustion
causing backdrafting when the fireplace is operating.
air openings at the bottom of the
Can you have an energy-efficient home and operate a woodburning
fireplace? Yes, but you must consider your home’s system when
planning your renovations. If you are planning extensive energy
management projects, you may have to provide a direct supply of
fresh air to your woodburning fireplace.
Other options include avoiding the use of exhaust appliances
tank and the opening below the draft
diverter (on top of the tank at the flue
duct) remain unblocked
• Do not store anything on top of your
natural gas water heater
• For all fuel-burning equipment, make
(i.e. dryer) when your woodburning fireplace is in operation, and
sure that vent hoods and pipes are
consider not using the woodburning fireplace at all. Standard
securely in place
woodburning fireplaces are not energy efficient, and actually
remove more heated air up the chimney than they provide to you.
If you want to have a fireplace, consider installing an alternative
such as a direct vent natural gas fireplace.
• Never tamper with fuel burning
Understanding energy and your home
Keeping your system balanced
Your home is an investment that should last a lifetime. To make
no matter where and when it occurs,
your home last longer, to take pride not only in its appearance but
moisture can be damaging once it
also in its structural integrity, you need to get to know how your
home’s system works and how to maintain a good balancing act
between the air, heat and moisture flows. Careful planning in the
early stages of renovation work will prevent unpleasant surprises
and ensure that the completed work meets your expectations.
Remember “Build Tight - Ventilate Right!”
You’ll see the results with a more comfortable home, greater energy
efficiency, and savings on your monthly energy bills. And that’s
well worth the investment.
Heat recovery ventilator
If you can warm up surfaces (i.e. window
glass), reduce moisture production, and/
or directly vent moisture outside, most
condensation problems can be resolved.
Often, achieving a comfortable level of
humidity in your home during the winter
can become a frustrating juggling act.
Sometimes the house air feels too humid;
at other times scratchy and dry. It is
If using exhaust fans and opening windows does not resolve your
generally easy to produce more moisture
indoor air quality problems, you may require a ventilation control
if needed (i.e. turning on a humidifier),
system such as a Heat Recovery Ventilator (HRV) to bring the airflow
so this section will deal with reducing
of your home in balance. This system acts like the lungs of your
moisture levels in your home.
home, automatically moving air in and out of the house. As its name
suggests, the unit recovers about 70 percent of the heat and preheats
the fresh air before distributing it through the home’s duct system.
HRVs are presently being installed in many new and existing homes.
HRVs only provide fresh air for your home’s occupants. According
to code, provision must be made for venting combustion air from
your appliances such as fireplaces, furnaces and water heaters.
An HRAI (Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute
Household Moisture Activity (for a family of
four) Average litres per week* per occupant
Cooking (three meals daily)
Dishwashing (three times daily)
Clothes washing
Clothes drying indoors,
or using an unvented dryer
help you determine whether an HRV and/or combustion air is
Floor mopping per 9.3 m
required for your house. Check the HRAI website (hrai.ca), toll
Normal respiration and skin
evaporation from occupants
of Canada) trained heating/ventilation specialist will be able to
free 877 467-4724 or check your Yellow Pages under ‘Heating
Contractors’ to find a qualified HRAI contractor.
Reducing Winter
Condensation Problems
Does condensation appear on your windows during cold weather,
or perhaps while you are cooking or showering? Is there mold
in an upper corner of a bedroom wall, in a closet, or on the
bathroom ceiling? Perhaps it only occurs in the basement during
the summer. These are all indications of moisture problems and
Building Related Average litres per week*
Seasonal building storage
(i.e., framing, drywall, concrete)
Exposed, uncovered
earth crawlspace
Drying and burning firewood
New construction – drying, framing
and concrete (over 18 months)
*Averaged over one year
Source: Natural Resources Canada
Understanding energy and your home
Drying up moisture problems
Step 1: Identify the source(s) of the moisture
Make a list of how your home and family produce moisture,
noting the largest sources, such as a dirt floor in the basement
or crawlspace (common in older homes), portable and furnace
Inside storm windows must be air-tight,
humidifiers, showers, cooking, laundry, wood stored indoors,
and outside storm windows must have
etc. Excess moisture may also be entering the basement due to
breathing holes to allow moisture to
disconnected downspouts and lack of grading around the outside.
drain and escape.
Step 2: Reduce the amount of moisture being produced
You can eliminate or reduce many sources of moisture with
Step 4: Whole-house ventilation
simple measures. For example, you can cover dirt floors with
Installing a Heat Recovery Ventilator
heavy plastic (overlapping and then sealing the edges of the
(HRV), as discussed earlier in this
plastic with acoustical caulking), turn humidifiers down or off,
section, is appropriate if you intend
use bathroom and kitchen exhaust fans more often, vent dryers
to retrofit your home to be energy
outside, avoid hanging clothes to dry inside, store wood outside,
efficient, comfortable and free of
reconnect downspouts, and grade the landscaping to encourage
moisture problems. You may need to
water drainage away from the walls. For more information on how
plan ahead to install an HRV
to choose an efficient and quiet exhaust fan see page 28 and refer
(i.e. install some new duct work),
to government websites noted on page 39.
so discuss your retrofit ideas with a
Step 3: Warm up cold surfaces
Moisture is generally only a problem if it condenses on a surface.
If surfaces are kept warm, condensation is less likely to occur.
For example, you can keep windows warmer by ensuring that
heat from baseboards, floor registers, or radiators isn’t blocked
by furniture or drapes. Another way you can warm the window
surface is to add an extra window glazing, either inside or out,
made of plastic sheeting, acrylic or glass.
Another example is condensation that occurs in particular
spots on walls or ceilings. This indicates a lack of sufficient
insulation. If possible, you need to add more insulation to
that location and/or reduce the amount of moisture being
produced in your home (see Step 2).
heating/ventilation specialist before
you begin renovating.
For additional resource information
on HRVs and controlling moisture
problems see chapter seven.
manage my bill
Manage my bill
Understanding your natural gas usage
In most areas, a Union Gas meter reader
is an important step in managing your
will go from customer to customer to read
energy costs and your bills. This section
the natural gas meter. This meter read is
will give you an overview of your
recorded as your “usage” on your monthly
Union Gas bill, how we bill and your
bill. Four winter months of usage account
billing options.
for more than half of your annual natural gas
Your Union Gas Bill is determined
by four important factors;
• Use - The amount of natural gas
consumed and measured in cubic metres
• Days of Service - The number of
days that your bill covers
• Rates - Union Gas rates change quarterly.
managing your bill; Equal Billing Plan (EBP),
Automatic Payment Plan (APP), MyAccount,
and Paperless Billing.
The EBP distributes your annual cost evenly
throughout the year, reducing the impact
of high winter heating bills. Automatic
Some customers may choose to sign
Payment Plan is pre-authorized electronic
up for a fixed rate through an energy
payment from your financial institution each
broker. Your broker name and rate is
month on the due date of your Union Gas
listed on your Union Gas bill. Broker
bill. Combining EBP and APP gives you the
rates and fixed/contract timelines
convenience of having a more predictable
will vary depending on your broker.
bill and the control of knowing your bill is
Please contact your broker for more
paid on time with no late fees. MyAccount is
an online account management tool that lets
• Degree Days/Average Daily
- account summary page
costs. Union Gas offers different features for
you view 24 months of bill history, register
Temperature - Details on temperature,
for EBP, APP, compare and download usage.
more specifically cold temperatures and
Paperless Billing gives you the freedom from
how it affects your natural gas usage -
managing paper and the convenience and
the colder it is the more natural gas you
control of MyAccount. When you register for
use to heat your home
Paperless Billing, an email notification will
be sent to you when your bill is ready for
viewing on MyAccount. Providing you with
the notice you need to view, link and pay
your bills online. EBP, APP, MyAccount and
Paperless Billing are all free. Register today
at uniongas.com/myaccount.
Manage my bill
12 steps to reduce your energy
consumption and save money
on your utility bill!
1 Understanding my bill, my natural gas usage:
See information on page 11.
2 Billing and payment options: Sometimes it seems like there are
6 Purchase ENERGY STAR® appliances:
so many options out there when buying your natural gas. Here’s
ENERGY STAR is the gold star of
a quick summary of what’s available to you.
energy efficiency. You’ll find it only
If you find that your gas bills are higher in the winter months,
our Equal Billing Plan (EBP) is a great way to spread out the
cost of your natural gas over the whole year. It will take the
guess work out of your monthly gas bill, and helps you better
predict your bill over those cold winter months.
If it’s hard to find time to pay your monthly bills, why not sign
up for our Automatic Payment Plan (APP)? Automating your
payments with Union Gas is a great way to always pay your
bills on time, without having to worry about late charges.
Simply provide us with your financial institution account
information, and we’ll take care of the rest!
For more information or to register for EBP, APP or Paperless
Billing visit uniongas.com/myaccount
3 Complete a home energy audit: An energy audit will evaluate
on appliances and products that have
made top grades in rigorous energy
efficiency tests. ENERGY STAR is a
symbol you’ll see on products around
the world and here in Canada. It’s a
symbol worth looking for and buying.
For more information see chapter five.
7 Reduce water heating demand:
After space heating, your water heater
is the second largest user of energy in
your home. It pays to use hot water
wisely! For more information including
tips and techniques see chapter five.
8 Install energy-efficient lighting: Today’s
market offers you a bewildering array
the energy efficiency of your home and outline improvements
of light fixtures and bulbs! If you
to the heating, cooling, hot water heating and other uses of
purchase and use energy-efficient
energy in the house that could result in energy savings.
light bulbs, over the course of a year
A do-it-yourself energy audit checklist has been included
your savings will certainly add up –
in this guide between pages 20 and 21.
even though lighting constitutes only
4 Install a programmable thermostat: By installing and properly
programming your programmable thermostat you can save up to
$100 a year in energy costs. For more information including tips
and techniques see chapter five.
5 Air sealing: Is your house leaking money? If your home is like
most, the greatest amount of heat loss is from air leakage; heated
air escaping to the colder outdoors through hundreds of tiny
holes and cracks around your home. For more information
including tips and techniques see chapter six.
six percent of your total monthly energy
costs. But remember, the best energysaving device for lighting is the switch!
Turn lights off when not in use. For
more information see chapter five.
Manage my bill
Contact us
9 Insulate your home: From the very moment heat is
generated inside your home, it tries to escape to the colder
outdoors. Over and above air leakage, heat is also lost through
the ceiling, basement, windows and doors, and walls by
conduction, convection, and radiation. The rate of heat
loss depends on the difference between inside and outside
temperatures and the insulation resistance met by escaping
heat. Increasing the insulation in these areas reduces the
heat loss. For tips and techniques see chapter six.
10 Use a clothesline: Did you know that an electric dryer can
cost a homeowner up to $100 a year in energy costs? Consider
using a clothesline. Not only will you save on your bill, but
you can also save on laundry products. The sun is a natural
whitener, so no need to buy any bleach. Static cling is created
by clothing rubbing together, but if your clothing is hung out
to dry it is not necessary to buy any dryer sheets.
11 Regular furnace maintenance: If your furnace is operating
at peak efficiency, it will use less energy and cost less to
operate. You should have a heating contractor perform a
On the web:
On the phone:
• Natural gas emergencies:
1 877 969-0999
• Call Before You Dig – Ontario One Call:
1 800 400-2255
• Account and Billing Inquiries:
1 888 774-3111
Our customer contact representatives
are available Monday to Friday from
8a.m. to 6p.m. (excluding major
holidays). Calls may be recorded for
quality and safety purposes.
By mail:
Union Gas Limited, P.O. Box 2001
Chatham, ON, Canada N7M 5M1
Bill Payment, P.O. Box 2025
Chatham, Ontario N7M 6C7
yearly maintenance check on your furnace, venting, and
cooling systems to ensure they are operating at peak
efficiency. For more information including tips and
techniques see chapter five.
12 Enrol in MyAccount: Manage your Union Gas bill with
MyAccount. MyAccount gives you the convenience of
online access 24/7 and the control to update contact
information, choose billing and payment preferences,
move, compare, graph, download and print 24 months
of usage history. MyAccount is free and easy to use.
Register today at uniongas.com/myaccount
Getting started on an energy plan
Thinking about energy renovations but not sure where to start or
invest your dollar for the most return on your energy bills? Now that
you have read chapter two and have a better understanding of energy,
your home, and heat loss you probably have a pretty good idea on
energy plan
where you think your renovation dollars should be spent. But have
you completed an assessment of your home from top to bottom?
By completing an assessment you can take a quick inventory or
status of your home for identification of energy-saving solutions.
Do it yourself assessment
A home energy assessment/audit will evaluate the energy efficiency
of your home and outline improvements to the heating, cooling, hot
water heating and other uses of energy in the house that could result
in energy savings. To help you get started a do-it-yourself energy
audit checklist has been included in this guide between pages 20 and 21.
If you are not comfortable taking on an assessment you may want to
bring in the professionals.
Getting started on an energy plan
Residential property owners can qualify for Ontario provincial
grants by improving the energy efficiency of their home and
reducing their home’s impact on the environment. The program
requires energy efficiency evaluations through licensed service
Rebates and Incentives
organizations. Energy advisors must be certified and conduct
When you’re planning your energy
a detailed, on-site evaluation of your home’s energy use from
renovation be sure to investigate all
the attic down to the foundation. They will then provide a
opportunities for rebates and incentives.
personalized report, including a checklist of recommended
Some upgrades will qualify for multiple
retrofits to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
incentives so do your homework first.
The report will also show the grant amounts for each
The links below will help you get started
eligible upgrade that you can receive by carrying out these
and find more information on how you
energy-saving improvements. The maximum grant you can
can save energy and cash on your
receive for a home is $5,000 from the provincial government.
energy renovations.
The grant is calculated and based on the grant amounts and
Union Gas
eligibility requirements that are in effect at the time of the
post-retrofit evaluation. You must complete your retrofits
and receive your post-retrofit evaluation within 18 months
from the date of your pre-retrofit evaluation report,
whichever comes first, is subject to available funding, and
• Energy Conservation tips, techniques,
current rebates and incentives
• Fuel Cost Comparisons for natural
gas products
may be withdrawn at any time.
• Where to buy or rent
For more information on this program, including a list
• Manufacturer links
of certified energy advisors visit Ontario Home Energy
Ontario Home Energy Savings Program
Savings Program at
• This program requires an energy
audit by a certified energy advisor/auditor
before and after renovations
Ontario Power Authority
• Cool Savings Program – rebates
for reducing your heating and
cooling electrical load
Equipment solutions
The Product Options
• Furnaces
• Space heaters and wall furnaces
• Combo hydronic baseboard
• Combo radiant floor heating
• Combo fan coil and forced air
Whether you’re currently using natural gas
energy, or are thinking about converting to
it, you can rest assured that natural gas is the
best environmental choice for home heating,
water heating, and appliances – particularly
when compared to other fossil fuels.
Natural gas energy offers a wide choice
• Fireplaces
of options to fit your budget, heating, and
• Water heaters
appliance requirements. You’ll find that
• Other natural gas appliances
the manufacturers of natural gas furnaces
and appliances have made many technical
advances to improve their efficiency. For
Efficient use of heating,
cooling, ventilating
equipment, appliances
and lighting
example, some continuous burning pilot
lights have been replaced with an energysaving electronic ignition. There is also
the option of venting a natural gas furnace,
water heater and natural gas fireplace
• Heating and air-conditioning
directly through the wall of the basement,
• Thermostats
which reduces the heat loss that used to
• Fireplaces
• Water heating
• Exhaust fans
• Appliances
• Lighting
escape up the chimney!
Equipment solutions
The Product Options
High-efficiency natural gas furnaces
The high-tech design of a high-efficiency natural gas furnace offers you significant energy savings and squeezes
the most heat out of every heating dollar. Another advantage of a high-efficiency natural gas furnace is that its
combustion gases are exhausted directly through a side wall to the outdoors, which eliminates the need for
a chimney, and the danger of backdrafting. Most units also have a direct source of combustion air from the
outdoors. (Note: As of Dec. 31, 2009 the new national standard for gas furnaces will require a minimum fuel
efficiency level of 90 percent).
If you run your furnace motor continuously for improved air circulation in your home consider purchasing a
high-efficiency brushless direct current (DC) motor with your new furnace. Government studies have shown
significant motor electrical consumption reductions of more than 50 percent in both winter and summer
operation. You can’t add this feature to an existing system, so be sure to ask your heating contractor about
the option when buying a new furnace.
EnerGuide and Energy Star® products for home heating
Energy Star
High-efficiency natural gas furnace
Printed on the back page of furnace
manufacturers’ literature. AFUE* rating
of 90% to 98%.
An asterisk (*) on the model/AFUE
rating indicates a high-efficiency motor.
Natural gas furnaces that have an
AFUE rating of 90% or higher
Natural gas-fired boiler
No EnerGuide label
ENERGY STAR qualified at an AFUE
rating of 85% or higher
Condensing natural gas-fired boiler
No EnerGuide label
The ENERGY STAR program does
not include natural gas-fired boiler
at this time
Natural gas fireplace
Fireplaces range in efficiency from about
30% to 70%. The higher the percentage
the more efficient the model. Printed in
manufacturer’s literature or on websites.
The ENERGY STAR program does
not include natural gas fireplaces at
this time
*Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE)
AFUE measures the amount of heat actually delivered to your house compared to the amount of fuel that you must supply to the furnace.
Thus, a furnace that has an 90% AFUE rating converts 90% of the fuel that you supply to heat -- the other 10% is lost out of the chimney.
EnerGuide allows you to compare the energy efficiency of the many different models of
household appliances or heating and cooling products sold in Canada. For some of these
products, Energy Star goes one step further and identifies specific models that meet
or exceed premium levels of energy efficiency. The Energy Star symbol may even
appear on an EnerGuide label. When you see Energy Star
on an EnerGuide label, you can be sure that the product is
among the most energy efficient available.
Equipment solutions
Want to upgrade your electric baseboards to natural gas?
Natural gas space heaters and wall furnaces are good
options to consider.
Natural gas space heaters and wall furnaces
What about those hard-to-heat areas of your home like
closed-in porches, add-on rooms, garages, or the basement?
A natural gas-fired convection space heater may be just the
right system to complement your existing heating system.
These compact, energy-efficient units are directly vented
outside, mounted on a wall, and can be sized to heat just
one room or several. Some units have built in humidifiers,
circulating fans and electronic ignitions. They are also
approved for mobile and manufactured homes.
installing a natural gas space heater, wall furnace, or a
natural gas fireplace and/or a natural gas water heater.
Any one of these options will allow you to enjoy the benefits
of natural gas energy without the bother and expense of
installing duct work.
Combination natural gas heating and water heating units
Combo systems are an innovative design that use a natural gas
water heater to provide heat and domestic hot water to your
If you have electric baseboard heating in your home, consider
home. While some combo systems have used conventional gas
storage tanks as the heat source, high-efficiency combo systems
A combo system requires professional
usually include either a condensing storage tank water heater
design for proper sizing. The Heating,
or a high-efficiency tankless water heater.
Refrigeration, and Air Conditioning
There are combo systems now available that also integrate
heat recovery ventilation with the space and water heating.
It is important to consider the efficiency of such an integrated
system, especially for heating your home. A combo or
Institute of Canada (HRAI) provides
this training to the industry based on the
Unified Canadian Guideline for Integrated
(Combo) Heating Systems. Ensure that
your contractor (designer) has been
integrated system should have a space heating efficiency
trained by HRAI. To search for a
of at least 78 percent although some systems are capable of
qualified designer or contractor call
space heating efficiencies of as high as 90 percent.
1 877 467-4724 or visit hrai.ca
Equipment solutions
There are three types of natural gas space heating systems, which
can be connected to the natural gas water heater: hydronic
baseboard, radiant floor heating, and fan coil and forced air.
1 Combo hydronic baseboard
Natural gas hydronic baseboards are a direct replacement for
electric baseboards. Hot water from the natural gas hot water
tank is piped directly to each baseboard, providing comfortable,
gentle, and even heat.
2 Combo radiant floor heating
Radiant floor heating warms from the floor up, utilizing hot
water circulating through a network of plastic tubing embedded
in concrete floors. As a result, radiant floor heating warms
everything in its path for a more comfortable and efficient
distribution of heat. Because radiant floor heating systems warm
from the floor up, radiating heat directly to you, you can feel
more comfortable, even with your thermostat set lower.
3 Combo fan coil and forced air
The combo fan coil and forced air system uses existing duct
work to distribute the heat recovered from the hot water tank.
Unlike hydronic baseboards and radiant floor heating, electronic
air cleaners, humidifiers, and air-conditioners can be used with
this system.
Whether you’re currently using natural gas energy, or are
thinking about converting to it, you can rest assured that natural
gas is the best environmental choice for home heating, water
heating, and appliances – particularly when compared to other
fossil fuels.
Natural gas energy offers a wide choice of options to fit your
budget, heating, and appliance requirements. You’ll find that
the manufacturers of natural gas furnaces and appliances have
made many technical advances to improve their efficiency.
For example, some continuous burning pilot lights have been
replaced with an energy-saving electronic ignition. There is also
the option of venting a natural gas furnace, water heater and
natural gas fireplace directly through the wall of the basement,
which reduces the heat loss that used to escape up the chimney.
Equipment solutions
Natural gas fireplaces
Natural gas fireplaces offer a beautiful, convenient, and
economical alternative to wood-burning fireplaces. Plus,
natural gas fireplaces are better for the environment, since
they eliminate the smoke, ashes, lingering embers and air
pollutants associated with wood-burning fireplaces.
When shopping for a natural gas fireplace, it is important
to know a few facts. Natural gas fireplaces are rated for
efficiency using the CAN/CSA - P.4 - 02 performance-testing
standard. This rating system helps to narrow your choices
when purchasing a natural gas fireplace.
Did you know natural gas is the
preferred choice of fuel for heating
A good energy-efficient model should have an efficiency
water? Natural gas heats water twice
rating of between 50 to 70 percent or even higher.
as fast as electric water heaters and
You will find the EnerGuide rating for gas fireplaces
at a lower cost. However, when
in the manufacturer’s literature or on their website.
comparing electric water heating to
Energy-efficient fireplaces have many of the
comparisons may vary depending on
following features:
location and usage. Some natural gas
1 An EnerGuide Fireplace Efficiency (FE) rating over 50 percent.
2 Direct-vent design.
3 Either an intermittent electronic ignition system, a means
natural gas water heating actual cost
water heaters can exhaust directly
through a wall instead of up a
chimney. This allows the water heater
to be installed closer to the point of
of turning off and relighting the pilot light, or a two-stage pilot
use, or in a more convenient location;
that runs with a very low flame when the fireplace is off.
and it also reduces excess heat loss
4 Radiation-transparent ceramic glass front.
5 A quiet squirrel-cage type circulating fan to help transfer
convective heat to the room.
6 Secondary heat exchanger.
7 Insulated outer casing to prevent heat loss through
the walls to the outside if located on an exterior wall.
8 Good turndown control or other means such as ducting
to prevent localized overheating.
Natural gas water heaters
that can escape up the chimney.
An ENERGY STAR® tankless water
heater heats water on demand. This
system can be sized to heat water for
all uses in your home or for just one
shower or sink.
Equipment solutions
You can also choose to use the sun to heat up to 50 percent of your
hot water with a solar collector system. Since energy from the sun is
free, solar water heaters can significantly reduce a household’s water
heating costs – savings that in turn can offset the higher purchase
and installation costs of a solar system.
Whichever way you choose to heat your water you can substantially
reduce your hot water heating costs with the installation of a
Drain Water Heat Recovery system. This system recovers the heat
remaining in your shower water and pre-heats the incoming water
Drain Water Heat Recovery Unit
hat feeds your water heater system. Up to 60 percent of the heat
from drain water is recovered and used to pre-heat cold water
going to the water heater from about 8°C to about 23°C. That saves
energy and saves homeowners up to 30 percent* of their water
heating costs.
Other natural gas appliances
You can also purchase natural gas
ranges, cooktops, clothes dryers,
barbecues, and pool heaters. These
Top 10 Reasons to install a Drain Water Heat Recovery System:
natural gas appliances are energy
• Simple technology reuses heat energy to reduce energy consumption
efficient and cost effective when
• Lower water heating costs by up to 30 percent
compared to the same electric
• After space heating, water heating is your largest energy expense
• Reduces greenhouse gas emissions
Visit uniongas.com for a listing
• Easy to retrofit into existing homes
of natural gas products. Including
• Maintenance free with no moving parts
information on installation, cost
• Recognized by ENERGY STAR® for New Homes
comparisons, manufacturers, and
• Increases water heating capacity
where to buy or rent.
• Purchase and rental options available
For more information visit uniongas.com/dwhr
* Savings may vary due to individual hot water use,
fluctuating energy costs and installation variables.
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) maintains the EnerGuide Appliance Directory,
which lists the energy consumption ratings of all new major electrical household
appliances sold in Canada. The directory also indicates the models that are
Energy Star® qualified.
For a printed copy, call 1 800 387-2000 or visit oee.nrcan.gc.ca
Equipment solutions
Efficient Use of Heating, cooling,
ventilating equipment and
Appliances and Lighting
Furnace and air-conditioning maintenance
If your furnace and air-conditioner are operating at peak
efficiency, they will use less energy and cost less to operate.
You should have a heating contractor perform a yearly
maintenance check on your furnace, venting, and cooling
Have a Heating, Ventilation and
systems to ensure they are operating at peak efficiency.
Air Conditioning contractor (HVAC)
In between those visits, there are some simple do-it-yourself
check and inspect your heating
tasks to help keep your systems working efficiently:
system components including:
• Change or clean your filter frequently (i.e. every one to two
months) during the heating and air-conditioning seasons.
• Air blower fan and motor
A dirty air filter reduces the airflow to the operating
• Flame pattern
equipment and forces it to run longer to heat and cool the
house. Using a furnace filter alarm can let you know when
• Test for carbon monoxide
the filter needs to be changed. Electronic air cleaner filters
• Burner, pilot
also need to be cleaned regularly (every one to two months)
• Furnace controls
• Keep return air grills, hot air registers, radiators, and space
• Bearings, belts, pumps
heaters/baseboards clear of furniture, rugs, and drapes to
• Venting
allow free movement of air
• Chimney
• You can ensure more heated or cooled air reaches its
destination by sealing the seams of accessible furnace
ducting with aluminum foil tape. TIP: Aluminum foil
tape out-performs duct tape for this job, as duct tape
has a tendency to dry out
• Insulate all ducts in unheated or cooler spaces with
commercial duct insulation – or make your own! Simply
• Pilot safety system
• Power exhaust
• Air filter
• Visible gas piping for leaks
• Electronic ignition system
• Electronic air cleaner
wrap the ducts with glass fibre batts, secure lightly with
Your HVAC contractor will clean
string, cover insulation with plastic, and tape all edges
the furnace components as necessary
You’ll be glad to know that making your home more energy
efficient doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. There are many
easy ways to keep your heating and cooling costs down.
• Heat exchanger
for proper operation and can inspect
your air-conditioning system.
Equipment solutions
Making the most of air-conditioning
Room air-conditioners
To provide comfortable conditions during hot, humid weather
Refer to these tips when you’re
you must not only cool your home, but also reduce the
shopping for and operating room
humidity levels.
If you operate them properly, central air-conditioning systems
• Before you buy, you’ll need the
will cool and dehumidify the whole house, and room air-
following information: exact room
conditioners will cool and dehumidify individual rooms.
dimensions and room details
Central air-conditioners
(i.e. is the room closed off or are
there open passages to other rooms);
Use the EnerGuide rating found on the back page of
size and type of windows; and
manufacturers’ brochures to identify the efficiency level
room location. Does it get morning
of a central air-conditioner. Like all EnerGuide labels and
or afternoon sun? Is there outside
ratings the scale shows you at a glance whether the
shading? What power supply is
air-conditioner is a good or an average energy performer
available in the room?
in comparison to other similar models. (Note: EnerGuide
ratings for air-conditioners and furnaces work in the reverse
to EnerGuide labels for household appliances. Look for a
larger number on the scale when buying heating and cooling
equipment to ensure the highest efficiency).
• Room air-conditioners are also
rated for their efficiency. Look for
the Energy Efficiency Ratio (EER)
printed on an EnerGuide label,
attached to the unit. The unit’s EER
To choose the most energy-efficient model available, you
is also normally stamped
can also look for the Energy Star® logo alongside the
on the nameplate affixed to the
EnerGuide rating. The Energy Star logo means that
outer casing of the unit
the product has exceeded the minimum SEER­­* (Seasonal
Energy Efficiency Ratio) level and meets the highest energy
efficiency levels. To qualify for Ontario Home Energy
*SEER is the measure of equipment energy efficiency
over one cooling season.
Savings Program, central air-conditioners must meet or
exceed a SEER level of 14.5.
Equipment solutions
The higher the EER, the less electricity the unit uses to do the
same job. Although there may be a higher price tag for a more
• If possible, remove window air-
efficient unit, the energy savings over the life of the unit should
conditioners for the winter. If they
more than offset the difference in purchase price. ENERGY
must stay in place, seal around them
STAR® labels are attached to room air-conditioners that use at
with caulking or tape and cover the
least 10 percent less energy than conventional models.
unit with a purchased or homemade,
• Consider replacing your old room air-conditioners – today’s
ENERGY STAR qualified units use 30 to 40 percent less energy
than most models sold 10 to 15 years ago
• An air-conditioner’s ability to cool is rated in British Thermal
Units (Btu/hr) and/or tons. About 18 Btu/hr are required to
cool and dehumidify one square foot of floor space in the
average house or apartment. For example, a 20’ x 25’
(500 sq. ft.) room would require approximately a 9,000 Btu/hr unit
• If the unit is too large, it may lower the room temperature
quicker, but it will not be on long enough to remove excess
humidity. Cool, humid air is uncomfortable
• If the unit is too small, it has to run longer to reduce the room
temperature, so your operating costs are high. Also, it may not
cool properly
airtight, insulated jacket
For more information on cooling your
home efficiently, visit NRCan’s Website
(oee.nrcan.gc.ca) to order a free copy of
Air Conditioning Your Home.
Keeping your cool
• Air sealing, insulating, and keeping
windows and doors closed are just
as effective at keeping the house cool
during the summer as they are in
keeping the heat in during the winter
• Exterior shading, such as awnings,
over-hangs, and deciduous trees,
are the most effective ways to block
excessive solar heat gain in your
• Operate room air-conditioners on timers. They only require
home in the summer. Interior shading,
such as drapes, blinds, and reflective
no need to leave them on if there’s no one home during the day
window film, is also effective
about 30 minutes to cool and dehumidify a room, so there is
Wind or sun breaks
Plant evergreen trees or a dense hedge as a wind break between the prevailing
wind and your home; usually the north-west side.
Deciduous trees planted on the east and west side of your property near the
house will help block the summer sun, and allow the winter sun to
warm your home once the leaves have fallen. Research indicates that a
mature shade tree cools a home similar to an air-conditioner, with
no operating cost!
Equipment solutions
• Your appliances and incandescent lights give off heat that
If you have an air-conditioner in
a cooling system must counteract. Turn off lights that are not
your home, you should turn UP your
in use! Minimize the use of appliances at the hottest times of
thermostat a few degrees during the
the day. Bake, wash, dry, and iron in the early morning or
hot summer months to reduce air-
in the evening
conditioning costs. It is not as easy
• Use a ceiling fan alone or in conjunction with an airconditioner to help circulate cooled air. Fans use less energy
than air-conditioners. ENERGY STAR® qualified ceiling fans
move air up to 20 percent more efficiently than standard
ceiling fans
The greater the temperature difference between the inside
and outside of your home, the greater the potential for heat
loss or gain. You can reduce energy consumption by lowering
the temperature on your thermostat a few degrees while you’re
to state recommended temperature
settings for air-conditioning as it is for
heating because the air-conditioning
system must do two jobs; cool and
dehumidify the air to make you
comfortable. Generally, an efficient
and comfortable temperature zone
to maintain is between 24°C (74°F)
and 26°C (78°F), and never set the
thermostat more than 8°C (15°F)
below the outdoor temperature.
away or while you’re sleeping. During the heating season,
if you reduce the temperature in your home by 1°C over
a seven-hour period each day, you can save one percent on
your heating bill.
As a rule of thumb, don’t turn the temperature down
more than 6°C (10°F) below your normal setting in
the winter. Also, remember no matter how high you
turn up the thermostat, you will not heat your home
any quicker.
Programmable thermostats allow you to pre-program
temperature settings and they never ‘forget’ to raise or lower
the temperature of your house. For example, you can program
the thermostat to turn down the temperature of your house
at night when you are sleeping and raise it again before
you get up. Some programmable thermostats even have
a separate setting for weekend use and are compatible
with most air-conditioning systems.
Equipment solutions
Where is your thermostat located? This can affect the
If you can’t replace your wood-burning
efficient operation of your heating or cooling system. Be
fireplace, here are some tips to minimize
sure your thermostat is located away from direct sunlight
your heat loss:
and blasts of cold air from an opening exterior door.
• Provide outside air for combustion.
Avoid locating it above or near appliances such as lamps,
It may be as simple as opening a
TVs, or other appliances that give off heat.
window in the room or installing a
Once you have purchased and installed your fireplace,
it is important to use it wisely. The following guidelines
will help to maximize your fireplace’s performance and
minimize its energy consumption, saving on your overall
heating bill:
• If your unit has a pilot light, ensure it is turned off during
the summer
• Turn down your home’s main thermostat if possible when
the fireplace is operating
• If the fireplace has a thermostat, keep it at the lowest setting
possible when not in use (otherwise the thermostat could
cycle the fireplace on when you are not home, or when the
room is not occupied)
• Radiant heat transfer is maximized when the glass is clean.
A standard wood-burning fireplace may be traditional, but
it is not energy efficient! In fact, it removes more heated air
up the chimney than it provides. Cold air rushes in through
cracks and leaks in the home to replace the air that exits up
the chimney – even when the fireplace is not operating.
A direct vent, natural gas fireplace eliminates this problem
with a direct, outside combustion air supply. Consider a
natural gas fireplace for hard-to-heat areas or as a supplement
to electric baseboard heating
fresh air vent for the fireplace. Contact
your local fireplace specialty store for
further advice and options
• Install tight fitting glass doors and keep
them closed when the fireplace is not
in use to prevent the home’s warm air
from escaping up the chimney
• Seal off an unused fireplace with a
home-made insulated plug. Simply
cut a piece of rigid polystyrene
insulation to fit snugly in the front
opening and decorate the plug with
either wallpaper or paint
• If your fireplace has a damper, make
sure it is closed when the fireplace is
not being used
Efficient use of fireplaces
To keep your fireplace running efficiently,
regular maintenance is a must.
Equipment solutions
Water Heating
After space heating, your water heater is the second largest
• Install an energy-efficient showerhead
user of energy in your home. It pays to use hot water wisely!
(less than 11 litres/minute) which
Here are some simple tips on how to use hot water more
can reduce the amount of water you
efficiently without affecting comfort, cleanliness or safety:
use for showers by up to 50 percent.
• Insulate at least the first two meters of the hot water pipe
and the first meter of the cold water pipe running from the
tank, to reduce heat loss or gain and reduce pipe ‘sweating’
You’ll use less water and energy and
still enjoy hot, skin-tingling showers!
• Fix dripping taps immediately.
problems in the summer. For safety reasons, do not place
Replacing a worn washer (just
any pipe wrap insulation within 15 cm of the exhaust vent
pennies in cost) can save you up
at the top of the natural gas water heater. The two basic
to 800 litres monthly, at one drop
types of pipe insulation are wrap-around or slip-on,
of water per second
pre-formed foam. Both are easy to install and are available
at building supply stores
• Replace existing kitchen and bathroom
faucet aerators with energy-efficient
• Operating your water heater at unnecessarily high
temperatures increases energy consumption and shortens
tank life. It also increases the likelihood of scalds; this is of
particular concern for young children and seniors. In fact,
the building code requires the installation of a mixing valve
when installing a new water heater to ensure a maximum
delivery temperature at the fixture of 49°C. For existing water
heaters without a mixing valve be sure to set your water
ones (13 litres/minute)
• One-quarter of your hot water use is
for laundry. You can reduce that by
washing clothes in warm or cold water
and always rinsing in cold. Use the
water level controls, if your washing
machine has them
heater temperature no higher than 60°C. To reduce scalding
consider lowering the temperature to 54°C. You can test your
water temperature with a cooking thermometer held under
a running tap
How your energy dollar is spent*
Space heating and cooling
Water heating
Source: Ministry of Environment and Energy
*Based on an average of the three main fuels
over a year.
Equipment solutions
Exhaust fans
Here are some energy-saving tips for the efficient operation
of your exhaust fans:
• Check that your exhaust fans vent directly outside and not
simply into the attic. Are there special exhaust hoods or vents
on your roof, in your soffit or on the outside wall? Look in
To calculate the second price tag for
your attic – can you see where and how the ducting exits?
one year of operation – multiply the
Venting moist air into the attic can damage the attic wood
EnerGuide rating (kWh/yr) by local
and insulation
electricity rates (dollars/kWh).
• Replace exhaust covers if they are broken or rusted open
• Clean your kitchen fan filter periodically with soap and water
• Replace your bathroom exhaust fan’s on/off switch with a
timer switch or dehumidistat control. A timer switch allows
the exhaust fan to remove moisture for a set amount of time.
A dehumidistat control turns the exhaust fan on and off
automatically when prescribed relative humidity levels are
• If buying a new exhaust fan look for an ENERGY STAR®
qualified product which uses 65 percent less energy than
standard models. A more efficient blade design and motor
means they move more air with less noise, last longer and
cost less money to operate
• Clear the lint that gathers in the dryer’s exhaust cover on a
regular basis. The lint stops the exhaust cover from closing
properly. A properly closed exhaust cover prevents the cold
outside air from entering the dryer when it’s not being used
• Internal venting of electric dryers is not recommended.
Though you recover some heat, you gain excessive moisture,
odours, and lint. For safety reasons, natural gas dryers must
never be vented inside the home
For example, the EnerGuide label
shown here for a refrigerator model
indicates a yearly operating cost of:
582 kWh/year x $0.10/kWh =
$58.20 per year
Refrigerators are rated to function for
about 17 years, so the second price tag
would be: $58.20 x 17 years = $989.40
These calculations are to be used
only as an estimate for comparison
purposes. Since everyone uses their
appliances differently, your energy
use may not be exactly the same as
that indicated on the EnerGuide label.
Equipment solutions
Operating your appliances efficiently
• All of your appliances will work more efficiently if you keep
• Small appliances use about half the
them clean. For example, vacuum the coils at the back of the
wattage of an electric range, so use the
refrigerator and clean door seals, drip pans, and filters
smallest appliance available for the
• Full loads are most efficient, but overloading can result in dishes
and clothes that don’t come clean
• Avoid overloading your fridge with food, since air needs to
circulate in the compartment. Your freezer, on the other hand,
works best when kept nearly full
• Keep your appliances in good working order. A malfunctioning
appliance is energy inefficient
• After purchasing a new refrigerator, you may be tempted to put
the old fridge in the basement as a spare for overflow. Today’s
food you want to cook. For example, a
microwave oven, electric kettle, toaster
oven, and electric frying pan are more
efficient than your electric range
• If you’re going away for an extended
period of time, consider clearing out
the refrigerator and unplugging it (be
sure to prop the door open), turning
off the water heater, and unplugging
TVs with the instant-on feature
refrigerators/freezers are nearly three times more energy efficient
than those built 20 years ago. That spare fridge can cost you
between $120 to $150/year in electricity or more, depending on
its age! Consider only plugging it in for special events or getting
rid of it altogether. Check with your local electric utility for a
refrigerator removal program
Equipment solutions
Turning on energy-efficient lighting
Today’s market offers you a bewildering array of light
fixtures and bulbs. If you purchase and use energy-efficient
light bulbs, over the course of a year your savings will
2 Compact fluorescents
certainly add up – even though lighting constitutes only
You are probably familiar with the
six percent of your total monthly energy costs. But
standard long tube fluorescent ceiling
remember, the best energy-saving device for lighting is the
fixtures used in homes, stores and
switch! Turn lights off when not in use.
offices. The same technology has been
improved for energy efficiency and
your lighting choices
When buying light bulbs, you probably think of watts as a
measure of brightness. In fact, the watt (W) is a measure of
light quality, and is packaged in a small
compact shape for use in lamps and
other lighting fixtures.
energy, not of light output. A 40-W bulb uses 40 watts of
There are a variety of wattages, shapes,
electricity, no matter what type of bulb it is. But the amount
and styles of compact fluorescents
of light it produces will vary, depending on the bulb type.
for different locations and uses in
Light output is measured in lumens.
1 Incandescent bulbs
throughout your home. They are considered to be energy
inefficient because they produce more heat than light. Some
incandescents have been made more efficient by reducing
the wattage (though there is a slightly reduced light output).
Look for these energy-saving replacement bulbs, which are
commonly available: a 34-W for a 40-W; a 52-W for a 60-W;
and a 90-W for a 100-W.
Although you may find incandescent bulbs with efficient
sounding names like ‘long life’ or ‘extended life’, they are not
Incandescent bulbs are the standard, familiar bulbs you use
energy efficient. They do have a longer life span because they
only produce about 70 percent of the light that they could,
while using the same amount of energy as an equivalent
A standard 40-W incandescent bulb
produces about 510 lumens, whereas a
wattage regular bulb. Incandescent bulbs are slated to be
40-W fluorescent tube produces about
banned from the Canadian market by the year 2012, making
2150 lumens – nearly five times as much
way for more efficient lighting choices.
light for the same amount of money!
Equipment solutions
your home. Although they are 70 percent more efficient than
incandescent bulbs and last 10 times longer, because of their
initial cost, they should only replace those bulbs that are used
for a minimum of three hours/day.
Follow these steps to determine where and what kind of energyefficient lighting you should install for maximum benefit:
• Note which light fixtures are used for a minimum of three hours/
Look for compact fluorescent bulbs and
fixtures that carry the ENERGY STAR®
symbol to ensure you are purchasing
the most energy-efficient lighting products
on the market.
day. If certain lights aren’t used extensively each day they are
already very efficient
• Once identified, record what the light is used for (reading,
general room lighting); where the fixture is located (ceiling,
table lamp, inside or outside); style and dimensions of the
fixture (space available for a new bulb); and the wattage of
the existing incandescent bulb
• When you take into consideration the amount of time the light
is used, the shape and style of the existing fixture, and the
function of the light, your home may have only eight to twelve
light fixtures which are appropriate for the new energy-efficient
compact fluorescents, halogens, and light emitting diode bulbs
3 Halogens
4 Light-Emitting Diodes (LEDs)
The latest addition to efficient lighting
is light-emitting diodes (LEDs). LEDs
are commonly used for traffic signals,
exit signs, flashlights, and seasonal
light strings. They are just starting to
be developed for home lighting. LEDs
boast a 90 percent efficiency over
traditional lighting and have a much
longer lifespan. They are small in size,
When compared to incandescents, halogens produce a whiter
very durable, and produce an intense
light, last two to four times longer, and use about 40 percent
white light with very little waste heat.
less energy to produce the same amount of light; however,
However they are relatively expensive
they are slightly more expensive to purchase. They are a good
but this barrier will weaken as their
replacement for outdoor flood and spot lights. For example,
availability strengthens.
a 45-W PAR (parabolic aluminum reflector) halogen spot
light replaces a 75-W PAR incandescent spot light.
There is another type of halogen bulb, often called a low
The best energy-saving device for
lighting is the switch. Turn lights
off when not in use.
voltage or quartz, which requires a specifically designed
halogen fixture. This bulb provides a bright, white, focused
light suitable for highlighting art work or use as a desk lamp.
Building envelope solutions and simple tips
Air sealing
But there’s good news! Preventing cold
Is your house leaking money?
If your home is like most, the greatest
amount of heat loss is from air leakage;
air from entering and exiting your home
is easy to do.
heated air escaping to the colder
Of all the energy-saving jobs that need
outdoors through hundreds of tiny
to be done around the house, caulking and
holes and cracks around your home.
weatherstripping are perfect candidates for
In fact, up to 40 percent of your home’s
do-it-yourself projects.
heating bill is spent on heating cold
A thorough and effective air sealing job
air that has leaked into your home,
can save you money on your heating bill.
because warm air has leaked out. The
Of course, the first step is to figure out
movement of air in and out
where the cold drafts are entering and where
of your home is increased by the
the warm, moist air is leaving. Statistically,
wind, the difference between inside
air leakage in a house is broken down as
and outside temperatures, and the
illustrated on the right.
operation of mechanical systems in
your home, such as dryers, exhaust
Playing detective for drafts
fans and furnaces. It is not unusual for
You won’t need any fancy tools to find the
your home to undergo minor expansion
leaks. With the help of the illustration on
and contraction as it adjusts to climate
the right and your eyes and hands, you can
changes, thereby creating air leaks as
identify areas in need of air sealing. The best
your home ages and weathers.
time to feel for drafts is on a cold or windy
solutions & tips
In an unfinished basement, you don’t have to wait for a
cold or windy day to detect drafts – just look for spider
webs! Generally, where there’s a web, there’s a draft.
Building envelope solutions and simple tips
day by feeling for the cold air that’s entering in through the cracks. But, if you see a crack and don’t feel a cold
draft, the heated air is probably exiting the house and the crack needs to be sealed.
Ceiling leaks can be a little more difficult to find; try looking for dirty insulation in the attic, as this indicates
indoor air is being cleaned by the insulation as it exits your home. You can pinpoint the location of
light fixtures and ceiling fans under the insulation by measuring their distance from the walls in the
room below. Then, it’s easy to locate them in the attic by using a tape measure and the wall-to-fixture
measurements. Even though locating and then air sealing the ceiling penetrations may be difficult or
awkward, it is the most important step in reducing your home’s air leakage and minimizing moisture
damage in the attic. If you choose to have a home audit, your air leaks will be easy to find when
the certified auditor turns on the blower door. This equipment depressurizes your home forcing outside
air to come in through all cracks.
Percentage of air leakage* in a typical house
Pipes and wire entrances (for heating fuel, cable television, telephone, electrical
services, etc.) 6%, Attic hatch 5%
Exhaust fans (through
poor fitting dampers when
not in use, and through
fireplace 11%
the cracks around the fan
when installed in ceilings or
Ceiling penetrations
walls) 4%
(i.e. interior wall
penetrations, light fixtures,
ceiling fans, plumbing
outlets and switches 4%
stack, chimneys) 23%
Windows (including
Exterior doors
the trim around the
(including the trim
around the doors) 8%
windows) 12%
Sill plates (i.e. the first piece of wood at the top of the foundation wall and at each
floor assembly at the baseboard) 27%
*All percentages are approximate and may vary from home to home depending on its age and condition. Source: R2000 Training Manual
Building envelope solutions and simple tips
Caulking is a putty-like substance that is applied to nonmoveable joints around the home, such as the edges of
windows and door trim. You must caulk on the inside of
the house to provide both a draft seal and a moisture block.
Blocking the moisture is most important since it prevents the
moist air inside your house from penetrating into the walls
and attic, and possibly accumulating and causing moisture
damage to the insulation and wood framing. Although
caulking is usually only done on the inside of the home, a
bead of caulking is also applied around outside window and
caulking on top of the crack
door frames to prevent rain from getting into the walls.
Exterior brick, siding, and storm windows all have built-in
Weatherstripping is used around doors,
the opening parts of windows, and attic
hatches. You can choose from many
different types of weatherstripping;
from materials such as foam, vinyl,
rubber, and metal. There are also
different means of attaching them,
vent holes that must not be caulked. These holes provide an
exit point for moisture.
Some key points to keep in mind when purchasing and
applying caulking:
• Make sure that the caulking material you are using is suitable
for the job and is properly applied to ensure a better, longerlasting job. Some characteristic variations include: flexibility,
such as tape and screws.
When properly applied,
ability to paint over, ability to adhere to various surfaces,
weatherstripping makes the moveable
temperature conditions for application, ease of preparation
joint airtight and still allows the door,
and clean up, expected lifetime, and cost
window, or attic hatch to be easily
• Purchase a good quality, durable caulking gun. A good
caulking gun is easier to use and the finished result will
be neater
• Before applying the caulking, clean the surfaces to remove
dirt and grime. Follow the manufacturer’s directions on the
opened or closed.
Some key points to keep in mind
when you purchase and apply
• Before heading to the building supply
container. If improperly installed, even the best caulking
store, be sure to note how your doors
available will do little to prevent air leakage
and windows operate, the size of gap,
• To minimize the problem of too much caulking for the crack,
cut the caulking tube nozzle to suit the size of gap to fill.
Caulk the smaller cracks first and increase the nozzle hole
size for the wider gaps
• Practice on scrap wood before
you attempt the baseboards. When
practicing, try cutting the nozzle flat
and pushing the caulking into the
crack while holding the caulking gun
at a 90 degree angle. This is often more
effective than cutting the nozzle on
a slant and pulling the caulking tube
and gun, which only lays a bead of
and colour
Building envelope solutions and simple tips
• Good weatherstripping will be easy to install, aesthetically
pleasing, and provide a long-lasting, effective seal
• Use effective products that can perform in cold weather and
in high-traffic areas
• Clean surfaces before attaching adhesive-backed
For more information on where and how to air seal,
see chapter seven.
insulating your home
How to stop the great escape!
Refer to chapter seven to request more
information when considering adding
R-value: The measure of insulation
Insulation is measured based on its
heat loss resistance: R-value for short
(RSI-value in metric). A higher R-value
number indicates a more effective level
of insulation.
As insulation is made from different
From the very moment heat is generated inside your home,
materials, there are varying R-values
it tries to escape to the colder outdoors. Over and above air
for the same thickness of insulation.
leakage, heat is also lost through the ceiling, basement, windows
To check the insulation levels of
and doors, and walls by conduction, convection, and radiation.
exterior walls, turn the power off and
The rate of heat loss depends on the difference between inside
remove the cover of an electrical outlet.
and outside temperatures and the insulation resistance met by
If there is a gap, you may be able to
escaping heat. Increasing the insulation in these areas reduces
see the insulation. Push a thin wooden
the heat loss.
stick between the electrical box and
Does your home need extra insulation?
the drywall or plaster to the back of
the wall and measure the depth. In the
If snow is melting on your roof on a cold, dull winter day,
attic, slide a ruler down the side of a
you likely don’t have enough insulation in the attic. If snow
floor joist and measure the depth of
is disappearing from around the sides of your house, you
probably need more insulation on the basement walls.
The recommended R-value of
Sometimes it may be obvious where you need insulation;
insulation may vary depending
other times it may be difficult to determine the best locations
on where you live. Check with
to add insulation.
your local building department for
To determine payback on your investment you must consider
the ease of doing the job and the cost of materials. However, if
comfort is your priority, upgrade insulation in your home in
any order – as long as air sealing is done first. Air sealing will
current required levels. The amount
of insulation you can add may also
depend on how much physical space
is available in the walls or attic.
achieve the fastest payback and will help to protect the wood
framing and insulation from moisture damage.
Building envelope solutions and simple tips
Protecting the insulation with air and vapour barriers
Vapour barriers
To be effective and to minimize moisture damage, you must
Vapour barriers stop moisture
protect insulation with both an air and vapour barrier. In the
travelling directly through a material,
winter, the air that leaves your home is warm and moisture-
like drywall, by diffusion. They are
laden. When this moisture meets cold surfaces in the walls
usually constructed of six millimetre
and attic, it will condense and can then be absorbed by the
polyethylene and installed on the warm
wood framing and insulation. If insulation becomes wet, its
side of insulation (normally right behind
ability to resist heat loss is diminished. There are numerous
the drywall).
ways to create effective air/vapour barriers.
older because each coat of paint and
Air barriers prevent indoor air, which is carrying moisture,
some wallpapers help resist moisture
from exiting through cracks. Air barriers also prevent wind
travelling through the drywall or plaster.
from whistling through the insulation. Some insulation, such as
To make the vapour barrier most effective,
glass fiber, rock wool, and cellulose, resist heat loss by trapping
the six millimetre polyethylene needs to
small pockets of air. The greater the number of undisturbed air
be sealed at every seam with acoustical
pockets, the higher the R-value. If wind can blow through this
caulking (a tar-like caulking). Together,
insulation, its ability to resist heat loss is greatly reduced.
the polyethylene and the caulking form
To be effective an air barrier must be resistant to air movement,
continuous, and durable. There are several ways to create an
air barrier. The simplest method is to apply caulking or foam
and install weatherstripping on the indoor cracks and leaks to
prevent air and moisture from entering or exiting the house. In
new construction, including additions to your home and new
siding, especially designed housewrap materials are wrapped
around the outside of the house behind the siding or brick. This
material resists wind, but still allows any moisture that gets in
the wall to diffuse through.
Air barriers are very important. In fact, studies indicate that an
air barrier is 100 times more effective than a vapour barrier at
stopping moisture from getting into a wall or attic.
Vapour barriers improve as a house gets
Air barriers
an air/vapour barrier.
Building envelope solutions and simple tips
Reducing window heat loss
Here are some tips to improve your window’s insulating value:
•Heavy drapes or energy-efficient window coverings can be
used to reduce heat loss, especially at night. During the winter,
be sure to open your drapes to allow heat and air to get to the
glass to help minimize condensation problems and to allow the
winter sun into your home for some free heat. In the summer,
block the hot sun by closing your drapes during the day,
installing awnings or reflective window film
To determine the approximate R-value
of batt or loose fill insulation, multiply
the depth (in inches) by 3. For example,
4 inches x 3 = R-12. Approximate R-value
= Depth of insulation in inches x 3
• Improve the thermal resistance of the existing window glazing
by installing additional layers of glazing. This can be done
by adding either a loose fitting exterior storm window or an
To minimize heat loss, windows must
airtight ‘interior storm window’, such as shrink wrap plastic
be insulated and air sealed at the
that is attached to your interior window frame with double
frame-to-wall joint when installed.
sided tape and ‘shrunk’ drum tight with a hair dryer
You need to confirm this procedure
Some tips for purchasing new windows:
To identify energy-efficient windows and sliding glass doors
look for the Energy Star® label. The label indicates that the
product has met the government’s requirements for efficiency
and for which climate zone(s) the product has been designed.
Four climate zones have been designated across Canada, the
more zones a product qualifies for, the more energy efficient it is.
Energy Star information is printed in the product literature
for each model. Energy Star qualified windows and sliding
glass doors will have many of the following features:
with the contractor prior to and during
the installation.
To ensure a quality installation of your
new windows, choose a contractor
who has been trained and certified by
Window Wise. Window Wise is a quality
assurance program that independently
audits and certifies contractors and
window manufacturers, and conducts
comprehensive window installation
training for installers. Look for the
• double or triple glazing with sealed insulating glass unit
Window Wise logo and be protected
• low-emissivity (low-e) glass
by an industry-backed guarantee. For
• inert gas, such as argon or krypton, in the sealed unit
more information on Window Wise
• low conductivity or ‘warm edge’ spacer bars
and to find certified companies,
• insulated frames and sashes
visit windowwise.com
• superior air-tightness
Building envelope solutions and simple tips
The following priority list will assist you in
determining where your energy dollars and
efforts are best spent:
1 Attic
Though it has a relatively low heat loss, 10 to 15 percent, the attic is the first place
to consider adding more insulation. It is generally the easiest and least expensive
area to insulate. If there is room, attic insulation should be 13 to 16 inches deep
(R-40 to R-50) and evenly distributed. Insulation can be kept away from the soffit
vents with the use of foam, plastic or cardboard baffles. Caulk or foam all attic
floor cracks prior to adding more insulation.
2 Basement
Since an unfinished basement has a high heat loss, 20 to 25 percent, adding
exterior or interior insulation is a major opportunity to improve your home’s
thermal efficiency. Basement insulation is most cost-effective when done in
conjunction with finishing the basement as living space, or when digging up
the exterior to repair foundation wall drainage. Basement walls should be air
sealed and insulated with at least R-10 to R-20 including the header space
between the floor joists and all the way to the basement floor.
3 Windows and doors
Windows and doors represent about 15 to 20 percent of your home’s heat loss.
Remember, this is the heat loss through the glass, wood, and framing materials;
not heat loss from air leakage (heat loss from air leakage is included in the air leakage
statistic of 30 to 40 percent). Depending on the age, operation, and design of your
windows and doors, you may want to consider replacing them. Consider replacing
windows and doors if they do not operate easily, are in poor condition, or are
difficult to weatherstrip.
4 Walls
Adding insulation to walls is cost effective if done in coordination with renovating
the interior walls or re-siding. Don’t miss the opportunity to add a continuous air
barrier over top of the insulation before installing the siding.
Looking for more information
There is a wide variety of free government literature available on each of the topics
you have read about in this guide. Before you undertake any major projects, you
should check out the available information.
Canada Mortgage and Housing
Corporation (CMHC)
Order publications by phone:
1 800 663-2642 or through their
website: cmhc.ca
• About Your House – Wide variety of
fact sheets on common housing
questions such as moisture, mold,
ventilation, carbon monoxide, ice dams,
windows, hiring a contractor, etc.
• The Renovation Series – Fact sheets on
renovation projects such as basements,
attics, different styles and ages of homes
Ontario Ministry of Energy and
Infrastructure (OMEI)
Visit their website mei.gov.on.ca for
information on:
• General energy efficiency information
• Provincial conservation programs such
as rebates for Ontario Home Energy
Savings Program
Ontario Power Authority (OPA)
Visit their website powerauthority.on.ca
for information on:
• Electricity conservation programs and rebates
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and
the Office of Energy Efficiency (OEE)
Order publications by phone
1 800 367-2000 or through their website
• Individual brochures and website
information on air leakage, insulation,
moisture, windows and doors, heating/
cooling, appliances and lighting
• Information on EnerGuide labels
• Renewable energy and the Green Energy Act
Union Gas
Visit our website uniongas.com for
information on:
• Energy Conservation programs and education
• Natural gas products, cost comparisons and
where to buy or rent
• Rate and fuel cost comparisons by region
and ratings and ENERGY STAR®
federal rebates
• Keeping The Heat In – 130 plus pages of
House as a System and renovation ideas
for all areas of your home
your home
Get your
home in shape
Now that you’ve read this guide, the rest is up to
you. The hints and tips in these pages can help you
determine how energy efficient your home already
is, and what energy-efficient measures to implement.
With the handy Home Energy Checklist insert, your
first step is easy – take an hour-long walking tour of
your home to pinpoint areas that need improving.
Then roll up your sleeves, get to work and get your
home in shape!
If you’re not already a natural gas consumer,
you may want to consider converting to natural
gas space and water heating. Also, there are many
energy-efficient natural gas appliances which can
reduce your energy bills.
Visit uniongas.com/energyefficiency for more
information about how natural gas can help
you save energy and money.
Natural Gas.
Simply Smart.
Natural gas is a primary source of energy.
It’s delivered directly to your home, ready to use.
Electricity, on the other hand, needs to be generated,
and that process of generation is often fuelled by natural
gas. Using energy to make energy isn’t efficient. Natural gas
goes straight to your home with no stops in between.
No other home heating energy source does that.
Now that’s smart energy.
Make the smart energy choice and select
clean, efficient natural gas.
Visit uniongas.com for more information
about the benefits of using natural gas.
Printed on recycled
paper •using
inks. © Union Gas Limited 2010 06/2010 UG20100115
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