You think the winters are cold in Quebec? If you have to crank the heat up to max, along with your Hydro bill, it’s time to put the cold back where it belongs – outside.

Energy efficiency refers to everything we do to lower our energy consumption. When it comes to buildings, we are mainly talking about the materials and construction standards. The goal is to have a high performance envelope in order to conserve heat gains and avoid losses.

If the place we are living is older, the advantages of moving to a new house or condo could be very tempting.

Economic efficiency

In Quebec there is a new standard in the construction code, effective August 2012, based on the Novoclimat program. Novoclimat, launched in 1999, proposes housing built with materials that offer superior insulation, and a great  étanchéité in order to avoid the passage of air and humidity, as well as an adapted ventilation system. This means that the standards that were considered innovative in terms of energy efficiency a few years ago now represent the minimum requirement.

In terms of energy efficiency, there is also a concept that goes beyond the construction materials and concerns the design of the building itself. It is known as passive solar design. This does not refer to solar panels on the roof; the idea is to use solar energy without a mechanical support. The building is designed in a way that maximizes solar heat. The direction, the shape and the distribution of the windows all play an important role. Ideally, there will be many windows on the front of the building, which faces directly south. This way, you benefit from the most hours of sunlight in the day.  To maximize the advantages and avoid losses, it is still important to use high performing materials.

Home, warm home

Are there reasons for wanting to consume less energy, besides saving money? The environment, of course! Going “green” is not a passing fad, it is more than anything representative of an ecological conscience and a long-term vision. You don’t have to live in the woods to do your part. Green can live in a very modern house, by buying a new house or condo that meets energy efficiency requirements.

Still need convincing? Think comfort.  If you live in a place that is poorly insulated, with a draft coming in around the windows, and the heat turned up to 30C to get you through the winter, you will certainly appreciate the advantages of a new home.

What’s better, in fact, than the comfort of home all year round? And although you may be able to afford that holiday in the south thanks to all the money you save on heating, you might just decide to stay home and enjoy yourself right where you are.