This Tool Puts Money in Your Pocket

Photo: iStockphoto.com/Squaredpixels
Rising energy and water costs? Get recommended green improvements for your home with the Home Energy Savings Calculator.

At Green Living we know there are dozens of ways to use less energy and water at home, and the bonus is you’ll save money. But what works for one household may not be ideal for another. That’s what intrigued us about this powerful new Home Energy Savings Calculator: it considers your living circumstances and calculates the home improvements that make the most sense for the planet and your home and bank account.

This online tool arms homeowners with a tailored list of energy-saving recommendations based on estimated costs for upgrades, annual savings and the number of years until the improvement pays for itself. “It used to be cost-prohibitive to make environmental upgrades,” says Craig Backman, chair of the nonprofit Sustainable Housing Foundation (SHF). “But water and energy prices are getting so high that these retrofits are now the best investments you can make.” SHF, which is devoted to increasing the number of sustainable homes in Canada, helped develop the calculator as part of Scotiabank’s EcoLiving program, which helps Canadians save with green home improvements.

Canadians can expect sound financial advice from the calculator, since it tops each list of recommendations with the best investments. That puts some of the easiest, most affordable retrofits—like programmable thermostats—ahead of options with longer payback periods, such as replacement windows. “Canadians can see where they should invest first to get the best return on their money,” Backman says.

And the tool comes with serious cred. The SHF gathered some of Canada’s leading green building experts to do the math behind the estimates. Calculations are modelled on up-to-date data from actual home audits where the SHF used the most sophisticated tools available to take measurements before and after energy-saving retrofits. Estimates are tailored to each homeowner’s circumstances such as geographic location, size of house, level of insulation, etc. “This tool takes into account all the important factors for your home,” says Backman.

How the Home Energy Savings Calculator Works

Step 1: Share basic household info
Enter answers to questions ranging from where you live to the age of your home to the number of Energy Star–certified appliances you own. 

Step 2: See what you could save
Your list of recommended retrofits, estimated costs, savings and break-even period is tailored to your climate, house style and more. Suggested upgrades—from attic insulation to heating equipment—are listed from best to worst investment.

Step 3: Take action
Now that you know your best investments, follow up with the SHF for an energy audit to get a detailed plan for executing energy-saving home improvements, and talk to a Scotiabank representative about financing options.

See more green home improvement ideas:

  •   Find out how one family is saving almost $4,000 with their seriously energy efficient home
  •   Learn which home improvement projects will help you save on energy
  •   Get expert tips and DIY projects in the green home improvement section