Learn how to redo your house and save energy

Many techniques to get energy use and dollars spent to near zero. - Contributed
Many techniques to get energy use and dollars spent to near zero.
— image credit: Contributed

There’s power in the economies of scale to save big dollars in renovation costs and over the years, thousands in utility bills.

Is there enough interest, though, in Maple Ridge for homeowners to plan their renovations together?

James Rowley wants to find out next Feb. 5 at 6:30 p.m. in council chambers when Now House explains how retrofitting old homes can save thousands of dollars in electricity and natural gas bills.

He pointed out that when Now House retrofitted a single older home in Ontario, the price came in at about $80,000, meaning the homeowner would wait years before recouping the renovation costs.

Then Now House did the same thing to five houses and the cost dropped to $60,000 for each house.

“Then they did 95 in Windsor, Ont., and they got it down to about $15,000 each. That’s the economies of scale.”

Rowley said the meeting is just to see how many homeowners in Maple Ridge are interested in a cooperative approach to eco renovations.

“If we could get 200 homes in Maple Ridge, that would put Maple Ridge on the map.”

Rowley lives in an older home, built in 1923 in Hammond, which he’s already renovating under a heritage agreement, so installing energy-saving devices and materials as part of the process is a logical thing to do.

“We’re renovating our house. If we’re renovating, we may as well try to reduce the footprint.”

Older homes usually benefit most by retrofitting, but homes built in the 1980s are also inefficient and could benefit while there are many older houses around the Hammond cedar mill that would be suitable for an energy redo.

Rowley is a member of Hammond Neighbours and has posted the details about the event on the group’s website.

According to its website, Now House  is a group of architects, building designers and engineers who collaborate on converting older homes to near-zero energy use. Some even can provide energy back into the electrical grid.

Maple Ridge district is supporting the event by providing the venue while City Green Solutions and Oasis Eco- Group, which builds green homes, will also be there and there’s a chance to win a free energy audit.

Every house is different, but retro-fitting techniques can range from insulating the concrete foundations of a house using rigid foam insulation, re-insulating a roof, installing solar electric and solar-thermal panels, adding an extra layer of insulation to the outside walls, upgrading lighting and heating, even insulating the basement floor can all bring energy costs to near zero.

Some grants are available from the provincial government but more free money is available if residents band together.

Rowley said ensuring the building envelope – the walls and roof – are insulated offers the most energy savings. “If you just take care of the building envelope, you don’t have to do much more.”

And renovating older homes with the latest in building materials and using energy saving techniques has far less environmental impact than building a new one.

“The greenest house is the one still standing.”

He said that many homeowners may not be in his position, with plans ready for a major refit, but said getting people thinking of the idea of saving energy is important.

“I think its time we property-tax-payers stopped waiting for our governments to give us the right incentive to do the right thing. It’s always the right time to do what is right.”



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