Buying Eco-Friendly homes
When most people hear the term “eco-friendly homes”, they think of solar panels on the roofs or large windmills in the yards. While these eco-friendly solutions are a reality in Calgary's 332 days of sun and warm Chinook winds, there are many other ways Calgary home builders and renovators are becoming more green.
Whether building, renovating or buying real estate, choosing the right building materials can make all the difference between a regular home and an eco-friendly home. Starting with the lumber choices. Avoiding lumber sourced from old growth or tropical forests and opting to salvaged wood either from riverbeds or recycled from old buildings, or using composite wood based materials that also utilize reclaimed wood.
When it comes to windows, choosing ones that are low emissivity can save on heating and cooling. Highly reflective materials have a low emissivity, so the glass is treated with ultraviolet coatings that reflect the light. Low-E coatings are rated based on the passive, or solar control they offer and include values like U-value ratings which are based on how much heat loss the window allows; visible light transmittance or how much light the window lets through; the solar heat gain coefficient which “is the fraction of incident solar radiation admitted through a window, both directly transmitted and that is absorbed and re-radiated inward”; and the Light to Solar Gain Ratio.
Builders and renovators also consider the amount of water that will be used in the eco-friendly home. Installing low flow toilets and shower heads, tankless water heaters, and Energy Star Approved appliances all decrease water consumption and energy costs.
When looking to buy a home that is eco-friendly, another bonus is the financial reward buyers are eligible for. CMHC has a 10% mortgage loan insurance premium refund, the government offers grants and refunds on various eco-friendly upgrades such as toilet and furnace replacement, and homes that have solar cells or photovoltaic panels can receive rebates and refunds or even earn money from utility companies depending on the amount of energy they produce.
For home buyers interested in buying green, CREB has a feature on their site called HomeSmarts, which allows your Realtor® to search for eco-friendly homes for sale in Calgary and surrounding areas. Prices of these homes are comparable to other homes so the decision to be green is not going to be a costly one.
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