Simple Upgrades for Improved Energy Efficiency
If you are looking to upgrade your property for energy savings, consider scheduling a Certified Energy Advisor to conduct an evaluation of your property. The evaluation consists of a blower door test that reveals air leakages through the building envelope followed by a personal consultation with the advisor to improve your property's energy efficiency based on your location and budget. One of the best parts of this evaluation is that it qualifies you for the
ecoENERGY grants and incentives program.
For a typical 1913 traditionally-constructed wood frame home:
- Ask a certified energy advisor to show you how your home is performing using a blower door test. This is a very effective way, at modest expense, to visualize air leakage.
- Seal the worst leaks. This does not mean going berserk with a caulking gun. Repair fissures and gaps in a way that is complementary to existing finishes and that will have a long life expectancy. Close fireplace dampers when not in use.
- Insulate uninsulated walls. There has been positive reviews of blown cellulose (recycled newsprint) incorporating a borax additive, that does not slump within the wall cavity like some predecessor products.
- Insulate the attic at ceiling level, and, when re-roofing, insulate otherwise inaccessible cathedral roof structures over dormers by removing sheathing or blowing in insulation.
- Ideally, overhaul (ease, strip, repaint, replace cords, wax sash grooves, weather strip etc.) windows at the same time as insulating the wall and augment them with interior or exterior storms. In this way the improvement of the R value of the envelope is consistent across the wall assembly and does not lead to temperature differences at window wall junctions that can cause condensation and mold.
- Do not incorporate a vapour barrier. Interior moisture vapour is generally inhibited from entering the walls by layers of paint. Moisture entering from the exterior tends to dry out by itself through evaporation and convection (that's why these buildings have been around so long).
- Avoid mixing building components made for sealed building envelopes (such as modern plastic and aluminum replacement windows) with traditional building envelopes. The effects on moisture movement at the boundary of the two can be unpredictable, and in some regions have been shown to accelerate decay of the building envelope.
- Purchase a lagging kit (an insulating cloak) for your hot water tank.
New energy-efficient domestic heating and hot water systems are both cost effective (they have short payback periods) and can be retrofitted without damaging the special character of your home:
- Particularly in coastal B.C., an air-source heat pump can be used to heat air for distribution through an existing ducted air system or to heat water for radiators. In colder climates, a ground-source heat pump for heating may be the right choice
- Consider going to an electric, gas or propane tankless hot water system
- Retrieve waste heat from your soil and vent pipe with a heat exchanger
- Seek federal government grants for these technologies.
Linzey, Richard. "Upgrading Your Heritage Home." Heritage BC Quarterly. Spring 2008.