Simply put, by means of superior construction materials and methodologies, an energy-efficient Energy-Star home is less expensive to operate, more comfortable to live in, and healthier for the environment than its counterparts. In the initial home planning stages, we discuss energy improvements with you, as most are installed early in construction. Topics include the selection of heating and ventilation equipment, windows and doors, and insulation types and levels. Any investment you make at the building stage is worthwhile.

After your house has been built, an energy advisor conducts a walk-through tour to see which energy-efficient upgrades have been included. A “blower door’ test is performed to give the house an official rating out of 100. The rating gives you an estimate of the electricity, natural gas, or oil that you can expect to consume each year, based on standard assumptions. Generally speaking, moving up the scale by one point saves you 3–5 % on energy consumption. An energy-efficient new house would receive a rating of 75–79. By the way, few new homes approach a 100 rating. Those that do are using technologies that are not yet widely available or cost effective.

Also note that Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), offers a 10 percent refund on its mortgage loan insurance premium when a borrower buys or build an energy-efficient home. The home must be rated as explained above, or be R-2000 certified. Visit CMHC’s web site at or call 1-800-668-2642 for more information.