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When thinking about buying a new home, one of the things that may be high on your list is energy and water efficiency, and other environmental features.

  • Investing in energy efficiency will help to reduce the cost of homeownership, not only today, but also down the road. It will also protect you against sudden large increases in energy costs that can play havoc with your budget—a reassuring thought.

    Energy efficiency will result in a more comfortable home for you and your family, and it is the most important step you can take to reduce your home’s impact on the environment.

    There are many options available to new home buyers. The key is to talk with new home builders to find out what they offer and get their advice on features, benefits and costs.

  • Common energy upgrades include more insulation, high-performance windows and upgraded heating and cooling systems. You may want to look more closely at heat pumps, on-demand water heaters, dual-purpose systems for space and water heating—these are now mainstream technologies. Increase your energy savings with Energy Star™ appliances as well as halogen, compact fluorescent and LED lighting.

  • Similarly, water efficiency will result in lower costs and better use of resources. It is also a hedge against future increases as many municipalities are looking to update decaying infrastructure, with users likely being asked to shoulder some of the cost. The starting point for homebuyers is low-flow toilets and faucets, as well as water-conserving landscaping. Also talk with your builder about grey water recycling and rain collection, for non-potable water use.

  • Healthy indoor air is important to you and your family. Ventilation is key to protecting the quality of your home’s air, and a heat recovery ventilator will continuously exhaust stale air, and bring in fresh air from the outside. The use of non-toxic materials and products in the building of your home also helps keep the air from becoming contaminated. Hard-surface flooring and other non-porous surfaces make it easy keep the house clean and free of dust and molds.

  • There is a vast selection of resource-smart products that give you the look and function you want while reducing the impact on the environment. This includes products made from recycled waste or from easily renewable or well-managed sources, locally produced products, and products with a longer lifespan. Ask for details, so you know that a product is truly greener and better for the environment.

  • Greening your home can also save you money at the time of purchase. You may be eligible for a 10% reduction on the mortgage insurance premium when you buy an energy-efficient home. Some financial institutions offer reduced interest rates or a rebate on a “green mortgage”, and some provincial governments and utilities have green incentive programs. Be sure to check with your lender and your builder to see what may be available in your region.