Green Housing Videos

Looking for tips on how to save water and energy at home? Watch these videos to learn more.

These videos are also available on CMHC's Youtube channel.

Windows for Sustainable Homes

Windows can be a defining feature of a home, enhancing both its curb appeal and interior ambience. But they can also be a major source of air leakage, outside noise and water problems. Whether replacing existing windows in your home or selecting windows for a new house, making the right choices today can reduce your energy costs, improve comfort levels and reduce maintenance needs for years to come.

{Visual}: Host in living room and view of windows.

Windows can be a defining feature of a home, enhancing both its curb appeal and interior ambience. But they can also be a major source of air leakage, outside noise and water problems.

{Visual}: Exterior of a house. Camera pans across façade with windows and zooms in toward a fixed window. 

Whether replacing existing windows in your home or selecting windows for a new house, making the right choices today can reduce your energy costs, improve comfort levels and reduce maintenance needs for years to come.

{Visual}: Living room, graphic with still images of different window frames.

One of your first decisions will be about frame material: should you go with wood, vinyl, aluminum or fibreglass? Each has benefits in terms of energy efficiency, upkeep, ease of operation and appearance, so do some research before making a decision.

{Visual}: Room with a desk in front of a corner with both a fixed and an operable casement window.

Another important consideration is whether you want a fixed or operable window.

{Visual}: Close-up detail of the fixed window.

Fixed windows are often the best energy performers because there are no moving parts that can allow air leakage.

{Visual}: Casement window which is partly open. A man enters and turns the crank to close it and then flips lever to lock it.

If you need an operable window, casement or awning units are generally the best choice since they provide a relatively airtight seal.

{Visual}: Cut-away section of a triple-glazed window.

For enhanced performance, consider installing triple-pane windows. Make sure they have insulating spacers between the panes to avoid heat loss in the winter and prevent condensation issues.

{Visual}: Host seated on sofa in the living room. Scene cuts to windows in living room. Camera tilts from bottom to top of windows. Scene then cuts to exterior shot of same windows. Two open awning windows are closed.

Solar heat gain is another consideration. By allowing solar energy from the sun into your house during the winter, high-performance windows can significantly reduce your home heating bill. But the key is location, size () and the right type of specialized coatings that can be applied to the glass. Too many south-facing windows can overheat rooms, even in winter.

{Visual}: Front of house, showing awnings over several of the windows.

Exterior shading devices, such as awnings, can help control unwanted solar gains.

{Visual}: Host seated on sofa in the living room.

Poor installation can affect the performance of even the most energy-efficient windows, so talk to a window specialist and make sure your new windows are installed by a certified technician.

For more information on sustainable features for your home, visit www.cmhc.ca.

Going Tankless — Save Energy With a Tankless Water Heater

Water heating can account for 25 per cent of the energy bill for many Canadian homes — especially those with large families that use lots of hot water. Hot water usage can be reduced by installing low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, insulating pipes, and water efficient appliances. You may also be able to reduce your water heating bill by installing an “on-demand” or “instantaneous” water heater.

{Visual}: Host in a kitchen.

Water heating can account for 25 per cent of the energy bill for many Canadian homes — especially those with large families that use lots of hot water.

{Visual}: Low-flow shower head with water running,  followed by insulated hot water pipes in a basement.

Hot water usage can be reduced by installing low-flow shower heads, faucet aerators, insulating pipes, and water efficient appliances.

{Visual}: Tankless water heater mounted on the wall in basement.

You may also be able to reduce your water heating bill by installing an “on-demand” or “instantaneous” water heater.

{Visual}: Tankless water heater, revealing venting at the top of the unit.

These compact water heaters use high inputs of gas or electricity to instantly heat water as it is needed.

{Visual}: Host in the kitchen.

As high-efficiency tankless water heaters don’t have to keep large volumes of water heated 24 hours a day, studies have shown that they can reduce energy consumption for water heating by 40 per cent.

{Visual}: Basement laundry room. Washer and dryer, then tankless water heater installed on the wall of the room.

Tankless water heaters can be hung on a wall and require little floor space making them attractive for smaller homes.

{Visual}: Tankless water heater installed in the laundry room.

But they need to be properly located, sized and installed to meet your household’s needs.

{Visual}: Exterior of the house, showing the exhaust vent of the water heater coming through the wall, followed by interior basement of a home, showing gas pipes feeding a tankless water heater.

For instance, gas-fired instantaneous water tanks may need different venting arrangements and perhaps larger gas pipes to deliver higher gas flows to the heater.

{Visual}: Host in the kitchen.

Keep in mind that the energy savings from an instantaneous water heater can literally go down the drain if their “endless” hot water capabilities just mean longer showers by household members. Whatever system you choose, it’s always a good idea to know the costs and potential savings so you can make an informed decision.

{Visual}: Images of different tankless hot water heating appliances.

Ask a qualified contractor to assess your hot water needs and recommend a water heating system that will meet them as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

{Visual}: Host in the kitchen.

To learn more about tankless water heaters, or for more information on sustainable features for your home, visit www.cmhc.ca.

Window Awnings for Better Cooling

If you live in a home with energy-efficient, south-facing windows, you’re probably enjoying lower heating bills thanks to passive solar heat gain from the sun’s rays. In summer, however, this same phenomenon can make your home uncomfortably hot, causing the air conditioner to work harder and your cooling costs to rise.

The answer to this dilemma may lie in outdoor shading devices, such as window awnings and screens, which can limit how much sun enters your home. Once a common feature on houses and storefronts, outdoor awnings are making a comeback thanks in part to rising energy costs and concerns about the environment.

{Visual}: Host in backyard of a home with awnings over several windows.

If you live in a home with energy-efficient, south-facing windows, you’re probably enjoying lower heating bills thanks to passive solar heat gain from the sun’s rays. In summer, however, this same phenomenon can make your home uncomfortably hot, causing the air conditioner to work harder and your cooling costs to rise.

{Visual}: Exterior of the front of a different house. Front of house, showing awnings over several of the windows.

The answer to this dilemma may lie in outdoor shading devices, such as window awnings and screens, which can limit how much sun enters your home.

{Visual}: Two different types of awnings.

Once a common feature on houses and storefronts, outdoor awnings are making a comeback thanks in part to rising energy costs and concerns about the environment.

{Visual}: Window with an awning over it. Host in the backyard.

Awnings can help reduce a home’s cooling load by about 15 per cent during the summer season. They can also keep the entire house cooler — not just the rooms where the awnings are installed — when continuous air mixing is provided by your furnace fan.

{Visual}: Images of different awning styles and installations, followed by an awning being extended over a small patio.

Awnings come in many styles, colours and materials. They can be fixed or retractable, and can cover large areas like a deck or patio, or individual windows.

{Visual}: Wind detection sensor on an awning installation.

Retractable awnings can be manual or fully automated, and some models can detect high winds and close the awning before damage occurs.

{Visual}: Series of images of a window showing a solar screen being progressively lowered to cover the window.

Solar screens are a less common outdoor shading technology. They roll down like interior blinds and can do a great job blocking the sun’s rays, but may also block the view.

{Visual}: Host in the backyard.

To learn more about controlling energy and comfort levels in your home, or for more information on sustainable features, visit www.cmhc.ca.

Stop Heat from Going Down the Drain

Most of us take hot water for bathing and showering for granted — until we open our gas or electricity bills. Heating water accounts for close to 20 per cent of the energy used in a typical home — and most of it just disappears down the drain. But it doesn’t have to be this way — you can reduce your water heating costs by capturing heat from wastewater.

{Visual}: Camera pans across bathroom.

Most of us take hot water for bathing and showering for granted — until we open our utility bills.

{Visual}: Host speaking with kitchen in the background.

Close to 20 per cent of the energy used in a typical home is for heating hot water — and most of it goes right down the drain. But it doesn’t have to be that way — you can reduce your water heating costs by capturing some of the heat from wastewater.

{Visual}:  Drainwater heat recovery system with copper piping around a drainpipe. Illustration of warm water transfer.

Drainwater heat recovery systems consist of copper piping coiled around a drainpipe. As warm water flows down the drainpipe, some of its heat is transferred to cold water flowing upward through the copper coil.

{Visual}: Close up view of drainwater heat recovery system and piping.

This heated water can then be delivered to your hot water tank, where it helps to warm the cold water provided by your municipality or well.

{Visual}: Water coming out of a shower head and water going down the drain.

This means that your water heater doesn’t have to work as hard to bring the water up to a useable temperature, which reduces your energy consumption and saves you money.

{Visual}: Host speaking with kitchen in the background.

These systems range in cost from $400 to $1,000, plus installation.

{Visual}: Search engine displaying results of drainwater energy savings calculators.

Search online for drainwater energy savings calculators to help you determine how much energy and money you can save, based on factors such as shower usage and local energy costs.

{Visual}: Drainwater heat recovery system with copper piping around a drainpipe.

Drainwater heat recovery systems need to be properly sized and installed in compliance with local codes and regulations. You’ll want to make sure they make sense for your new home or as a part of a renovation.

{Visual}: Host speaking with kitchen in the background.

Seek the advice and services of a qualified plumber who is knowledgeable with this innovative, yet simple, approach to reducing your hot water energy bills.

For more information on sustainable features for your home, visit www.cmhc.ca.

Insulating Your Walls

Older homes not built to today's standards of energy efficiency can often benefit from the addition of more insulation. Upgrading insulation can reduce the amount of energy used for space heating and cooling. It will also help protect you against future increases in energy costs and makes your house more comfortable to live in.

Lungs for Your House

New homes in Canada are more airtight and energy-efficient than ever. That's a good thing because it reduces heating costs and helps keep your house comfortable. But it may also mean that it's harder for fresh air to get into your house - and for stale or humid air to get out.

In older homes, leaks may provide some ventilation. But there will likely be drafts, and the effect is localized and impossible to control. You can open a window when the weather is nice, but if you try that in the winter, you'll have higher heating bills. Your best bet is to use a heat recovery ventilator, or HRV.

Passive Solar Designs: Energy Savings All Year

Are you considering a new house? Did you know that if you take advantage of the sun's energy you could reduce your heating costs by up to 50%? A house with south-facing energy efficient windows will maximize solar heat gain during the winter and good insulation with airtight walls will help to keep that heat in!

Collect Rainwater for Your Lawn or Garden

Rainwater collection is a great way to save money and keep your garden healthy. The rainwater that comes off your roof can be collected through a downspout, and then stored in either a large reservoir, or in smaller rainbarrels depending on how much water you need. When you need water for your lawn or garden, simply attach a garden hose to the spigot and turn on the tap!

Electricity: Phantom Loads in Your House

The term "phantom load" refers to the electricity used by a device when it is turned off. Typically, a household has 20 or more electrical devices consuming stand-by power at any given time. This may represent up to 10% of your total electrical bill! Look for devices that have a light or clock that operates, even when the device is turned off or chargers that are warm to the touch. With these cues, you can unplug the various devices and save! If buying new, look for the EnergySTAR symbol.

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