Let’s Commit to Retrofit

In our last post, we discussed habits you could change to help reduce your environmental footprint. However-if you have the financial capacity, you could implement the methods below to lessen your environmental impact even further as well as save your money!

  1. Consider adding ultra low flow or high efficiency toilets in your home to reduce your total water use! Ultra low flow toilets (ULFTs) utilize gravity or pressure assisted methods. Gravity toilets rey on gravity to clear the waste when the flapper is moved and water is released. Pressure-assisted toilets compress an air pocket to propel the released water to remove the waste. Meanwhile, high efficiency toilets (HETs) feature dual flush that reserves 1.6 gallons/6 liters of water for solid waste and 0.8 gallons/3 liters of water for liquid waste per flush. (1)

  2. Install energy-efficient light bulbs such as halogen incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Photocells, timers, dimmers, and motion sensors can further reduce electricity use.

  3. Use a smart thermostat such as a NEST thermostat which can more efficiently control the heating and cooling of your house, by adapting to your presence in your house (i.e. what time of the day you leave and come home), seasonal variations + fluctuations,  to not only positively impact the environment- but also to save you money!

  4. Install solar panels that integrate into your household! The average Albertan household requires 20-24 solar panels to be an electrically net-zero household (4). Once installed by an electrician, these panels can integrate seamlessly into your breaker panel, so that you can start using. The solar option typically won’t save you money immediately as the cost of installation will offset the electricity savings for the first few years, but in the long term the savings will definitely pay off- not to mention, the environmental impact starts as soon as you start using them yourself (4). For residents in Alberta, you can actually be eligible for a solar rebate of around 30% of the cost of installing the solar electrical system in your home!  

  5. There are several “green” or environmentally friendly forms of insulation that we can use, namely sheep’s wool, cotton, Aerogel, and rigid polystyrene (5)! Not only does proper insulation save the environment, it can also be a large money saver. Here are areas in the home to insulate.

  6. Heat gain and heat loss through windows are responsible for 25%–30% of residential heating and cooling energy use. Upgrading your home windows can increase air-tightness, reduce energy loss, and reduce road noise. These are some ways you can improve your windows (6):

    1. Cover any air leaks. Here is how to detect air leaks.

    2. Add storm windows or panels

    3. Add solar control film

    4. Add exterior shading (awnings, exterior blinds, or overhangs)

  7. Overall, if you can afford to build an entire house concept, take a look at net zero energy (nZEB) buildings: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0960148118304440 a net zero energy building. They produce as much energy as it uses over the course of a year, meaning the building has an energy utility bill of $0 over the course of a year.

This is the last of our environmental-themed post for the year.  We hope you’ve learned some handy tips over the last few months on some habits you can change to better help the environment!


Written by Kanesha Calo and Kasun Medagedara


References:

  1. Low Flow Toilets https://home.howstuffworks.com/low-flow-toilet.htm

  2. Lighting https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/save-electricity-and-fuel/lighting-choices-save-you-money

  3. Low Flow Showerheads https://www.brothersplumbing.com/plumbing/benefits-of-using-a-low-flow-shower-head/

  4. https://kubyenergy.ca/blog/the-complete-guide-to-installing-solar-panels-in-alberta

  5. https://www.usiinc.com/blog/insulation/which-is-the-best-insulation-for-the-environment/

  6. https://www.energy.gov/energysaver/design/windows-doors-and-skylights/update-or-replace-windows