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Home Improvement Grants

Get home improvement grants for making your home more energy effiecient. Retrofit programs include home improvement grants for the following upgrades:

  • Air Sealing
  • Ventiliation
  • Insulation
  • Windows
  • Doors
  • Skylights
  • Heating systems
  • Cooling systems (air conditioning)
  • Water heating
  • Light fixtures
  • Clothes washer & dryer
  • and more!

Home Improvement Ideas

Draftproof Your Home

Wherever you feel cold air coming in, you have a leak, and warm air will escape through the same gap.  Drafts are big energy wasters that inflate your bills and make your home less comfortable than it could be.  Sealing the gaps and cracks with caulking and weather stripping is one of the most cost-effective home improvement steps to keep the heat inside your home, reducing heat loss by up to 10%.  Your home energy advisor can pinpoint leaks and will document them in your customized report. 

Manage Your Thermostat.  One simple way to minimize wasted energy and reduce heating costs is to pull on a sweater and some cozy slippers and turn down your thermostat setting. Another way is to heat your home strategically, turning down the thermostat while you are out or overnight.  You can do this yourself, or you can get a programmable thermostat to automatically regulate the temperature to preset levels at different times of the day.  When parts of your HVAC system are replaced, it is advisable to also invest in a new thermostat that “talks” to the electronics within your new furnace or heat pump.

Energy Efficient Windows.  Whether in a new house, or retrofitting and older home, windows can make a significant difference in your energy consumption. For most Canadian homes, the best windows are ones that will minimize heat loss and maximize solar light gains. It is equally important that windows are installed properly.  It is a major home improvement, but one that reduces noise, dust and utility bills.

Shade Your Windows.  Using blinds or drapes on your windows provides insulation winter and summer. Heat loss from windows can account for 10% to 25% of your heating bill in winter. Window coverings can be a quick and cost-effective way to cut heat loss, block cold drafts and save 5% to 15% of your energy expenses.  It’s a simple and attractive home improvement!

Annually Maintain Your Heating System.  Tune up your heating equipment and continue to give it regular maintenance in order to increase its energy efficiency, cost effectiveness and the comfort it provides.  This would be considered a home improvement since checking keeps you informed and keeps those furnace filters clean.  Air quality is always noticeable.

Ensure Your Fireplace is Efficient.  When you cozy up to a crackling fireplace on a cold day, you might be robbing your home of heat.  An open fireplace is one of the most inefficient heat sources you can use. It will actually draw warm air up the chimney and pull cold air into your home through any unsealed gaps or openings around windows and doors.  For the rest of your home to stay warm while you sit by the fire, your heating system has to work harder and longer. Your home energy advisor will check for leaks around this area during the blower door test.  Improving this area of your home can range from inserts to replacing a fan.

Add or Upgrade Insulation.  Upgrading your heating system might make your home warmer, but if it can't hold the heat in, you'll be wasting energy.  You can upgrade the insulation in many of the key heat loss areas of an existing house (attic, basement, etc.) without too much trouble or expense on your home improvement budget. If you are building a new home, take the opportunity to insulate it well.

Home Improvement 101 Insulate for the Greatest Savings

A sure-fire way to lower your heating bills is to improve the insulation in your property. Whether it’s the attic, walls or pipes, proper insulation makes a difference.

Insulate the attic. You can save heating costs by laying a fibreglass insulation blanket over the joists or filling the spaces between joists with loose-fill granules. Since up to 25% of your home’s heat is lost through the roof, you should recoup the cost within a few years.

Check existing insulation. Older houses often have only a thin layer of insulation. Ideally, it should be at least 20 cm (8 in.) deep. After your initial audit.  Top it up by 10–15 cm (4–6 in.) and you could be more comfortable and save money on heating costs.  Check this site for the terrific rebates available.

Insulate the pipes. Insulate hot-water pipes with electric heat tape or flexible foam tubing, which you can buy from a plumbers’ supply or DIY store. You could save more than just the cost of lost heat—proper insulation helps to stop pipes freezing and bursting in winter.

Home Improvement Made Simple - Draft Proofing

You can lose up to 15% of the heat in your home through drafty doors and windows, and another 10% through the floors. To help avoid this:  Keep drafts out. A brush or PVC seal for external doors costs just a few dollars from your local DIY store. Draft-stopping tape can be used around offending doors or windows. Try using a lit incense stick to help pinpoint where small drafts are originating.

Seal up floor cracks. Filling cracks between floorboards with newspaper or sealant reduces drafts. If you’ve just sanded your floor, save the sawdust from the sander and mix it with PVC. Then fill any small cracks for a seamless finish.

Sealing Windows against the Cold

The average house loses as much as 20% of its heat through the glass in windows; but there are ways of reducing this wasteful heat loss, such as double glazing, which can cut this loss by as much as half.  Save $60–$100 a year with double glazing. Although you won’t recoup the cost with the amount you save on heating bills, the other benefits associated with double glazing can make the expenditure worthwhile.  These benefits include the fact that all your old windows and frames are replaced with new ones, and the double glazing provides insulation against noise and smells.  For an average home, initial expenditure on double-glazed windows would be around $13,000, with a projected fuel saving of approximately $100 a year from the most energy-efficient option, low-E (low-emissivity) double glazing.

More Energy Saving Home Improvement Tips

Harnessing Solar Power to Improve your Home’s Comfort. Save on fuel bills by making use of solar energy.

Retain warmth in cold weather. During winter, allow as much sun as possible into the house. On sunny days, open blinds and shutters, and tie back curtains. Trim evergreen trees and shrubs that shade the windows. As soon as the sun starts to go down, close the blinds or curtains to hold the heat inside.

Keep cool in summer. For the summer, take the opposite approach. Plant deciduous trees to shade the house in hot weather, and install awnings over south-facing windows. Close your windows and curtains by mid-morning when the temperature begins to rise, or leave them closed if you’ll be out all day. If temperatures cool down after sunset, open up the house to take advantage of any breezes.

Home Improvement Project: Install or repair a fireplace. A flickering fire can have a dual purpose: not only does it look good, it allows you to heat the room you’re sitting in (your living room or family room, for example), without having to turn up the temperature in the entire house. Gas fireplaces are about 50% less expensive than electric to operate and 33% less expensive than wood.

Prices for wood-burning fireplace inserts range from $1,500 to $4,000. These come with blowers that spread the heat, so you don’t lose it all up the chimney.  You’ll pay around $1,200 to $3,000 for a gas fireplace and around $ 700 to $3,000 for an electric fireplace.

Cost cutting bathroom fittings a beautiful and practical home improvement idea.  When it comes time to replace your bathroom fittings, be sure to install new energy efficient models. With the fierce competition between manufacturers and retailers, good deals can be found.

Reduce water flow. Fitting inexpensive low-flow shower heads and taps in your home is a simple improvement you can do yourself that will reduce the amount of water you use by half. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions—all you’ll need is a wrench or pliers to do the job.

Stop the shower while you soap. Check out shower heads with an off-on switch that lets you interrupt the water flow while you soap up, shave or shampoo and then resume the flow to rinse.

Buy a low-flow toilet. For $150 you can get a CSA-approved, low-flow toilet that will save up to 14 litres (3 gal) per flush, putting a big dent in your water bill and giving you a chance to help the environment. And don’t worry, the newer models work well.

Though virtually all home improvements cost money, some can flush your money right down the toilet. Others, however, can make their cost back in a raised sales price -- sometimes several times over.

If you want to see the glass as half full, you should definitely consider replacing your windows. Potential buyers look for windows that effectively keep out the cold and warm weather. You can see an average return of 90 percent on your investment if you replace your windows. Not only does this help you when you go to sell your house, but replacing old windows also helps you cut back on energy costs while you're still living in your home.

The secret behind completing any home improvement project is to improve the value of a home and therefore obtaining the best return on investment.  This is why installing high cost items, such as installing new custom built kitchen cabinets, may not increase the home’s value unless the entire kitchen is completely remodeled.  Therefore, it is prudent to think what pays you back right away, lower the bills you already pay.

Who wouldn't like to save money on utility bills this winter?  But have you ever considered some of the more common energy-efficient home improvements - like insulating your hot water heater or replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents.  Simple and effective.

Home Improvements that Save Energy

Sometimes the act of saving money just isn't fun enough on its own.  Fortunately, you can make home improvements that will trim your utility bills and boost your home's appeal at the same time. Here are four home improvements that are surprisingly energy efficient as well:

1. Buy a new dishwasher - Or clothes washer. Older appliances were not only built to be less energy efficient, they can lose what little efficiency they had as they age. If your appliances are more than 10 years old, they likely use more energy and water than newer models, especially new models that are Energy Star qualified.

Dishwashers purchased before 1994 use an additional 10 gallons or more of water per cycle than a new Energy Star qualified model, according to EnergyStar.gov. And if you don't have a dishwasher at all, don't think of buying one as just a luxury. Energy Star says you'll save 5,000 gallons of water and knock $40 per year off your utility bills if you give up washing dishes by hand - not to mention 230 hours of your time.

2. Beautify your bathroom - Kitchens and baths sell homes, but they're also the rooms where the most water gets used and wasted. Old fixtures and faucets are among the top water-wasting culprits in a home. You can conserve water by turning off the tap when you brush your teeth, but that water savings goes down the drain if the toilet runs constantly when you leave the room.

Replacing leaky fixtures can reap significant water savings. Energy Star says a leaky faucet can waste gallons of water. Just one drip per second can waste up to 1,661 gallons of water in a year, according to EnergyStar.gov. You can also conserve water by installing a low-flow showerhead, which can save you as much as 5 gallons of water during a 10-minute shower. Many manufacturers now offer stylish, water-efficient faucets and showerheads.

3. Let the sun shine in - A venting skylight is a fun way to fill your home with nourishing natural light and passive ventilation, but did you know it's also energy efficient? Installing a venting skylight can help you lower your electric bill by reducing your dependency on artificial light and electric fans. Natural light has been tied to a host of health benefits, including improving mood. A skylight not only enhances the energy efficiency of your home, it adds decorating flair and could make you feel better about living there.

4. Install a fireplace - Zone heating the areas of your home where you spend the most time can reduce your home heating bill by 20 to 40 percent, according to the Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association. Installing an energy-efficient fireplace or a stove is a great, appealing way to zone heat the rooms you use the most.

What's more, this type of heating can be "greener," if you use renewable fuels like cord wood, pellets or other plant-derived materials in your high-efficiency stove or fireplace. As for the fun quotient, it's hard to top a fireplace for a home improvement that adds warmth and appeal to a room.  Saving money can be doubly exciting, when you opt for energy-efficient home improvements that also enhance enjoyment of your home.

How Total Home Solutions Can Help You

We provide you, the consumer of home products and services, with relevant and accurate information to make better decisions when doing home improvements.  Whether you are looking for home remodeling ideas, shopping for appliances or furniture, restoring, or simply maintaining and fixing your home, we’ve got the information you need. Search our site for details, perhaps some of the projects you are planning yield incentives.

No matter who you are, if you own a home, at some point in your life you are going to do some home improvements.  However, you have some work to do and some questions to ask before

Your attic should have between 19 and 22 inches of blown-in or batt insulation. If you're nervous about working with yards and yards of the itchy pink rolls, look for poly-encapsulated products. These are encased in a layer of plastic to reduce exposure to fiberglass particles. Also, the weave of the fiberglass is longer and more cotton-like, leaving fewer particles to escape into the air to become a respiratory irritant.

Even the most intrepid and experienced home improvement do-it-yourselfers come up against a project that’s beyond their skills—for example, kitchen updates or electrical work—and so they turn to a professional.  The trouble is, many homeowners think that’s the first step in a midsize project.  There’s actually a lot you need to do before you make that call.  Take a bathroom rehab: You will need to know the cabinetry, tile, fixtures and finishes you want, as well as their placement. If you haven’t made these decisions before you start calling contractors, you’re in for a pricing process based on what they think you want rather than what you actually expect.

Set yourself up for a smoother, more satisfying experience by coming up with your own specs: a list of your ideas and product efficiency specification choices for items you are thinking of replacing. If you give this sheet to each of the contractors you interview, you’ll then be able to do an apples-to-apples bid comparison. By investing some thought and preparation at the beginning, you’ll get the best prices on home improvements in the end. 

With the price of building a new home on a steep incline it is no wonder that home improvement contractors are busy. As homeowners go through their wish lists there are a few items that stand out as the most popular home improvement ideas:

With the price of electricity and home heating fuels climbing ever higher the way we look at heating systems will never be the same. So it is no wonder that one of most popular home improvement projects is a complete overhaul of the HVAC system, which is an acronym for heating, ventilating and air conditioning. As they are with their automobiles many homeowners are looking at their furnaces and looking at a “Smart Car” version of a heating system. In other words, they are looking efficiency and new ways to conserve energy. This includes heat pumps, both air and geothermal, and the re-introduction of wood stoves and heaters.

The most used room in the home is also the most renovated and this is the kitchen. No other area has had as many improvements in technology or changes in style in such a short time as the kitchen. The most popular styles in the past few years have been the “commercial,” or restaurant, look and the old Mediterranean rural setting with lavish cabinetry. Deep sinks and stone countertops are still popular as are working islands with cook tops or sinks. Cabinets have changes as well moving from the urban European “minimalist” designs to the rural European farm kitchens with travertine flooring. Along with granite and marble countertops is the introduction of polished wood for counters and, for those who are daring, smooth concrete.

Bathroom have evolved from the basic fixtures to an area much like a living room where the object is not a quick shower but a bathing experience. Large soaker tubs have replaced the shower/tub combination along with self-contained shower cabinets which feature steam and rain showerheads. Another innovation is the multi-room bathroom area that features a lounge or massage area where the bathe can relax and watch TV or read

The yard used to be a place for throwing a ball or having a barbecue but now it has become an extension of the home.  The deck off the kitchen is now a large patio area that features a standing fireplace and grilling area. Larger places port an above-ground swimming pool or spa. In Canada's climate the summer is short and all these conveniences lengthen the season into the spring and fall. Contractors are building these new additions out of wood or having masons put in stone or pavers as the base. The wooden structures can go as tall as the roofline of the home and feature 3 or 4 levels.

Along with the patio is the rest of the yard that many homeowners want dedicated to shrubs and gardens. Nowadays, garden areas are not only colorful but fulfill a need for the family as well. Areas of lawn are being carved out in favor of vegetable gardens and fruit-bearing trees to add to the family table. Landscape architects are also using terracing to achieve the most space available for the size of the lot.  In the long run this design will save water and prevent the use of pesticides because homeowners are beginning to plant gardens using methods that mean they can be free of pests without using chemicals.

Another popular home improvement is the addition of more storage, especially in parts of the home which are considered “wasted space.” In this way the home can be more organized without having to invest in outside storage sources.

The concern over energy had led to a boom in highly-efficient window installations. As windows are one of the greatest heat-losing portals in the home the introduction of low-emissivity and argon-filled windows came around at a welcome time. The window coatings reflect heat back into the home whereas the heavy argon gas-filling prevents convection currents in the space between the panes which used to accelerate heat loss.

End of Summer Sales: Time to buy that Lawn Mower, BBQ, Chainsaw, or Outdoor Furniture?

End of summer also means sales for BBQ’s, landscaping items, tools, and other home improvement items. Keep an eye out for that lawn mower, power washer or lawn sprinkler system that you’ve had your eyes on. Some of the biggest retailers will be discounting these warm weather items shortly. Web sites are often the easiest way to research the best sales in your city, but we’ve noticed that some retailers resort mainly to traditional advertising, so it may be worth leafing through the flyers on the weekend.

Home Improvement tip, keep an eye on Home Depot, Rona, Home Hardware, Canadian Tire and Costco sales…

Have you ever been asked for your email address while paying for your items? We’ve noticed that it’s worth giving your email address to retail stores since they often send you discount coupons by email for free! So keep this in mind next time a retail store asks for your email address. Savings sent for free are a good thing!

Fall Landscaping Tips for home owners

Did you know that fall is the best time to landscape? With the end of the drought season arriving, some plants and most trees, shrubs and grasses (especially sod) are best planted in the fall. Of course, don’t forget the tulips, crocus and daffodils either! If you want your home to look great next may, start planning now.

Landscaping Planning, is it too late to hire a landscape architect?

In a case of a major project, September is not too late to hire that landscape architect or qualified designer to plan your landscaping project. Since most landscaping projects do not require a building permit prior to start, home owners and contractors can often get to work within a few weeks of agreeing on the plan of action. And yes, having a plan in writing is important! Otherwise you and your contractor won’t know exactly what the job entails.

Landscaping is very important, get it right and get a plan drafted prior to starting any major work. Landscaping is often the hardest part for a home owner to visualize, so it’s best to hire an expert to design this space for you. Money well spent to say the least.

 

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