August 12, 2010

Eco Renovations in Canada

CANADA/ENVIRONMENT - If you're looking to cut back on heating and electricity prices there are a number of ways you can do it.

#1. Insulation - Anything, and we do mean ANYTHING you can do to better insulate your home both in the summer and the winter will save you a bundle. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX and you can come up with other ways to insulate your home cheaply and efficiently.

For example wooden shutters. Sure, they're old fashioned and they sometimes get ripped off in a windstorm (which might happen once every 4-5 years), but they provide very good value for money. In the winter shutters shield your windows from the cold and in the summer they shield you from the bright sunlight and heat.

Or another alternative to wooden shutters is fabric blinds, which is more energy efficient than regular blinds.

#2. Roofing - The last thing you want is heat escaping out your roof during the winter or too much heat being absorbed in the summer. Roofing is similar to insulation, but you want it to be durable in all kinds of weather. If you have a flat roof you could also build something across or above it (ie. lattice work or some kind of barrier) which can deflect the heat in the summer and helps insulate in the winter.

#3. Decks and Verandas - Another thing we like for keeping the heat off the house is decks and verandas (with a roof above it).

In all seasons verandas and decks can be quite useful for insulating the exterior of the house, creating a barrier between it and the snow/heat. Some people even have dettachable steel siding/wooden walls they can add to their verandas in the winter to insulate it even more. Deck building isn't for amateurs however. You want to hire a skilled carpenter or deck building, or even better someone who specializes in building verandas. You can also get eco friendly deck designs these days.

#4. Windmills and Solar Power - If you own a house there is very little stopping you in my opinion from setting up several windmills and solar panels on your roof, backyard, etc. One of the cheapest routes is to use portable solar power which is usually meant for cottages/etc, but can be quite useful for home use as well if you're frugal about how you use your electricity.

#5. Recycle Old Things - When it comes to insulation and renovation don't be afraid to recycle old things. A colleague of ours, Robert Campbell, has a number of websites including one for social media marketing, and he reviews bloggers / blogging websites on his site Canada Blog Friends, but the one we really want to mention is Dumpdiggers which promotes the idea of digging through garbage dumps and looking for items that can be used again. Now you don't have to go to an actual dump to do this. You could just as easily walk down the street in a neighbourhood and look at all the stuff people have set by the curb for the garbage collector... old couches, chairs, scrap computers, books, whatever.

What we'd be looking for myself is glass, mirrors, wood and steel which is still usable. If you spot anything that looks like a propeller or windmill blades, or a 12 Volt electric motor then you could even build your own windmill.

Once you have the necessary tools and materials then you go about adding to your home, insulating it, adding shutters, a veranda, a greenhouse, whatever ideas you can come up to make your home more efficient.

#6. STONE MASONRY - This is the one we love the most and we've used CAPS for a reason. Stone masonry is hard work, but very rewarding once you have stone walls on your home. Stone is the absolute best insulator regardless of season. And best of all you can make your stone walls as thick as you feel like. They could be 3 or 6 feet thick if you want, the more you have the better insulated your home is.

Learning stone masonry is actually fairly easy, but the real trick is the heavy lifting. This is not something to do if you can't even lift a 50 or 100 lb rock. Finding rocks can also be tricky. We are firm believers in abandoned gravel pits, where the large rocks have been tossed to the side. You go there with a truck, load up half a tonne of rocks, take them back home and unload them. You mix the mortar start placing stones, mortar inbetween them and keep going at it until you run out of both mortar and stones.

Learning how to split rocks with a splitting sledge, building joints and corners on a building are more tricky so we recommend doing lots of research at the library and becoming an unofficial expert on the topic before embarking on this. We also recommend working with a partner because it will make the work much easier.

Hiring a stone mason is very expensive, because the work is so heavy and stonemasons are rare yet in demand. Doing it yourself is the best option, but only if you're physical fit and mentally capable of the challenge... both in terms of understanding the principles of masonry, but also in terms of determination. The last thing you want is to start the job, lose your confidence/determination and then do a half-ass job of it.

#7. What about your car...? - Now you might think what can you do to renovate your car... but the truth it is possible, depending on how ruthless you want to be. Every kilogram of weight you can shed from your vehicle will save you in mileage and gasoline later. The most basic thing is to throw out all the useless junk and garbage that is in your trunk, backseat, under the seats, in the glovebox, etc. You especially don't need that 40 kilogram roof rack that you never use (or only use once/year). If you are much more ruthless however you can toss out the backseats entirely and start removing unnecessary parts in an effort to cut as much weight off your car as possible... like dumping those old speakers you never use.

Another important thing you can do is maintenance. Tire pressure, a clean engine from the inside out and remove anything that is messing with the efficiency of the engine. A well-tuned engine will save you gasoline just because its more efficient and runs better.

"It has very little to do with saving the planet and so much more to do with saving money."

See Also:
Window Blinds and Your Health

1 comment:

  1. Great post Charles. The green roofs are okay I guess, and it makes a good picture, but I predict the next big thing in home fashion will be to have a white roof. There is a story that all McDonalds all over North American are going to paint all their roofs white, and this will have a significant effect on climate change. Do you believe that?


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