Two years ago Reiner Hoyer lived in a squat 1950s-style bungalow in the north end of Toronto. Like most houses of that era, it was drafty, poorly insulated and cost a fortune to heat and cool each year. Today the bungalow has been transformed into a two-storey home, complete with three large bedrooms, hardwood floors and a basement apartment. But despite more than tripling the size of his home, Hoyer’s utility bills are about $1,200 for the year, a third of what he spent on his old bungalow, and less than half the national average.
Hoyer, a renovation consultant, took advantage of the latest energy-saving technology to dramatically lower the cost of living in his home. He doesn’t even have a furnace: triple-paned windows, super-insulated walls and solar panels are some of the features that keep his house comfortable year round. Hoyer also cut his water bill by installing a rainwater cistern in his backyard to supply his toilets. Not only is his home one of a kind, it’s one of the most energy-efficient homes in the country.
The average homeowner spends $2,234 a year on water, gas and electricity, costs that are likely to rise as we run out of cheap energy and our power grid starts showing its age. While Hoyer may have gone to extremes, there are many cheap and easy upgrades regular homeowners can do to reduce monthly expenses. In the pages that follow, you’ll visit our energy-efficient house, where we cost out exactly how much you’ll save for each home improvement. We hope you’ll get some ideas you can put into practice. Not only will you start seeing a payback almost immediately, you’ll also add to the long-term value of your home.