How to know if your energy­-efficient home will reduce your bills, environmental impact

True energy efficient homes require careful planning from the blueprint stage to the very last window installation, so if you want an efficient home that meets the energy standards of the future (and reduces your utility bill), you need a builder who’s committed to the cause.

Pretum Narang, purchasing manager for Cedarglen Homes in Cranston’s Riverstone of Calgary has years of experience working on energy­efficient homes, and knows it can be overwhelming to try and decide what you need to make your home more efficient.

“It’s hard for homeowners to be educated about everything that’s being put into the homes,” says Narang, whose company builds all their new houses to meet the high efficiency standards of the EnerGuide.

It’s a government tool used to help Canadians rate the energy efficiency of their homes and cars. To reduce greenhouse gases, Natural Resources Canada has an EnerGuide target of 80 out of a possible hundred for new builds. According to Cedarglen, their average ratings for single family homes have been between 80 and 83—right in line with and above the government’s target standard for the whole country.

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“It’s a good way to set ourselves apart,” says Narang, who’s been with the company for over 10 years. Those uncompromised standards mean homebuyers can be confident in the product they’re buying.

For every home they build, Cedarglen consults an Energy Advisor who makes sure certain standards are met at every step of planning and construction.

“Prior to building the house, we send him the plans,” says Narang. The advisor then evaluates each home based on its size and orientation on the lot, and calculates the dwelling’s EnerGuide score.

“If it’s not going to hit 80, we ask what else they can do in the home to help bring it up to 80,” says Narang.

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Upgrades are made throughout the many stages of building a home, too, from better, more efficient insulation to tankless water heaters that only heat water on demand instead of all day, and air leakage tests before and after drywall is installed to stop energy­wasting drafts in their tracks.

“Energy efficiency goes well beyond the efficiency of appliances,” Alberta’s climate change advisory panel says. “The design of cities and neighbourhoods matters profoundly.”

So what does the energy efficient neighbourhood of the future look like? Full of homes that are more comfortable, budget­friendly and environmentally conscious. The spaces will be like living in your dream house, while knowing you’re also making a difference.

Says Narang, “That plays a part in the comfort.”

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