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When all is said and reno’d

I’m done, but not like dinner. I’ve been cooking that on my new natural gas range. I’m just tired from four years of demoing drywall, installing insulation, nailing, drilling, mudding, caulking, taping, tiling, etc.  Now I get to sit back and enjoy all that I’ve accomplished. And what a feat!

In four years, I took a little, non-descript house and turned it into, what I think, is a cosy, unique and efficient home. Better yet, both my natural gas and electricity consumption have decreased. And that’s even after adding more natural gas appliances to my home.   

Thermostats, caulking and window film

When I first moved into my house I made some easy, low-cost changes that immediately helped to improve its comfort and reduce my energy bills. Caulking around windows and adding window film reduced drafts and my new programmable thermostat ensured that I never left the house forgetting to turn the heat down. In fact, FortisBC recommends you program your thermostat to 20°C for when you need heat and 17 °C for when you don’t. 

Space and water heating

In 2010 I replaced the furnace with a high-efficiency model and in 2011 I swapped out my leaky electric storage tank water heater for an ENERGY STAR® natural gas tankless one. You might think I just switched energy sources, but with the upgrades I am, in fact, using less electricity and less natural gas. Switching from an electric storage tank to a natural gas tankless water heater reduced my electricity bill by $10 a month; my natural gas increase was negligible.

If I had to choose one energy efficiency reno…

When you take on any energy efficiency renovation it’s important to consider the whole home. Meaning, you can upgrade your furnace to high-efficiency but if it’s heating up an under-insulated home, you’re not going to see as much savings (or comfort) as you could. Same goes if you replace all the insulation but still have an energy-hungry heating system in place.

That said, my personal choice for the best bang for your buck and improvement in comfort is insulation. Windows, water heaters and furnaces are big ticket items. They are investments that improve your home’s comfort and aesthetics and reduce your energy costs, but the payback can take years. And usually you have to pay skilled and licensed contractors to install them. While blown-in attic insulation is a job for a professional, installing batt insulation is an easy and affordable DIY project. Maybe I’m just biased because I installed all the batt insulation myself, but there’s nothing better than immediately feeling the results of a hard day’s work insulating (e.g. it’s warmer and quieter) and then getting your gas bill a month later and seeing a drop in your usage.

I don’t let my energy bills hang me out to dry – my savings journal synopsis

Overall, I have reduced my natural gas consumption by almost 25 per cent. I’ve also reduced my electricity consumption by about 37 per cent. In fact, I’ve saved so much electricity that BC Hydro rewarded me with $75 last year. To save electricity the first thing I did was purchase a new ENERGY STAR washing machine and a dryer. Next I upgraded the old fridge and even added a dishwasher as there wasn’t one before.  I think my biggest electricity savings has been from an activity I do religiously from May to October. Some people think it’s old-fashioned, for me it’s a meditation—hanging laundry on a line. Before buying my house, I’d lived in apartments since I was a teenager. Hanging laundry is a privilege, not a chore.

As for chores, now that the renos are done, I’ve got a whole lot of decorating to do!

I reduce my electricity consumption by avoiding my dryer from May to October and using a good old-fashioned clothes line.
One of the best ways I improved the energy efficiency and comfort of my home was by adding insulation. Here’s the kitchen. It sure was cosy after I was done. ​​