DIY Retrofit

There are quite a few things that you (or with the help of a professional) can do around the house that can make your home more energy efficient.  Here is a list of DIY fixes you can do to improve your energy bill, the environment and the re-sale value of your home!

The Department of Natural Resources is pushing Ottawa to require a mandatory energy performance audit for residential homes before the point of sale. This means that if your home checks all of the boxes, it will be worth more than a home that does not. Here are a few things that you can do to get your house up to snuff.

Interior Design with Purpose

Induction vs Gas Stove

We all know that the use of fossil gas aka “natural” gas is not a good option for the environment or your family.  Having a gas stove in the house generates high levels of nitrogen oxides, which has been linked to asthma in children.  The CBC ran a story about how you should switch to an electric induction stove to reduce your indoor pollution.  There are also a number of other reasons why induction is the way to go and why even chef’s prefer it over gas.  
  • One of the biggest is safety – there is no live heat source unless you’ve got the pan on (so loose clothing / kids won’t burn on an open flame).
  • It is easy to clean as the cooktop is flat (no more scrubbing at a greasy gas stovetop!)
  • Instant heating up, better temperature control (set it to a value and get consistent results every time – unlike a knob)
  • A cooler kitchen (temperature wise) as induction only heats the pot and not all of the air around it like an open gas flame does. The reduction in heat output avoids creating hot spots in the house and there will be a less sweaty chef.
Induction Stove
  • Methane continues to emit from the stove even when the stove is off
    (seen in both new and older gas stoves). This is a big problem
    because methane is a huge contributor to planetary.  It is estimated that stoves emit between 0.8-1.3% of the natural gas they consume as unburned methane. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) warns that “studies of human exposure to air pollutants indicate that indoor levels of pollutants may be two to five times – and occasionally more than100 times – higher than outdoor levels” – this exposure is equivalent to levels of air pollution inside homes that would be illegal outdoors under national air quality standards.
  • When the stove is lit, nitrogen dioxide is formed as a byproduct. Increasing airflow by using your rangehood can help reduce the personal health risk of natural gas-burning appliances, but for various reasons (namely noise, or malfunction), sometimes the rangehood isn’t used and this is disastrous for your health. There was a meta-analysis from 2013 by Oxford University Press of the effects of indoor nitrogen dioxide and gas cooking on asthma and wheeze in children across North America, Europe, Asia and the Pacific, and there was no variance between age nor regions. This study found that children living in homes with gas stoves were 42% more likely to experience symptoms associated with asthma, and 24% more likely to be diagnosed with lifetime asthma.
  • Taking natural gas out of the equation altogether and switching to electric appliances is one of the most effective ways cities can tackle the climate crisis and lower their emissions.

“Having a gas stove in the house generates high levels of nitrogen oxides, which has been linked to asthma in children”.

Electric vs Gas vs Wood Fireplace

When it comes to heating your home there are a few options you can take.  With our humid continental climate producing weather all over the map, and the cost of living rising and our household income being anything but steady, choosing an environmentally friendly option can help reduce your monthly energy bill. Additionally, maintaining clean air at home can have positive effects on the environment and local governments have financial rebates to incentivize going green. There are three options that you can use to heat your home: gas, electric or wood.  Let’s break it down.


“DIY fixes can improve your energy bill, the environment and the re-sale value of your home”

Gas Fireplace

  • Natural gas is a fossil fuel and is an inherent danger to the environment. Natural gas is excavated from the earth using fracking methods. Therefore, these units have a significant negative impact on the environment
  • “Natural” gas is non-renewable and mostly methane, which is a toxic greenhouse gas emission.
  • Fossil gas is a danger to you and your family’s health due to the quantity and toxicity of the gases emitted when fossil gas is burned.

Electric Fireplace

  • These are super practical as they are considered 100% efficient. They require no venting so you don’t lose any heat out of vent pipes and you can place them anywhere in the home. Let’s not forget that they have no combustible by products.
  • They are easy to install and can be added to any room that needs warmth
  • Electric fireplaces are becoming more popular. You can create the ambience and visual appeal of a fireplace at any time of the year without overheating a space.

Wood Fireplace

  • A wood burning fireplace use to be looked upon negatively however this stigma has significantly changed over the years. Wood is a sustainable resource and logging companies are required to plant more trees than they cut down.
  • Sourcing firewood locally cuts down on distribution costs and the carbon footprint related to shipping. If you live in a wooded area like Whistler, you can find fallen or dead trees to use leaving no impact for Mother Nature (as well as being FireSmart by removing dead trees, a potential fuel for forest fires).
  • It provides a great deal of warmth and the ambiance is unbeatable with the fresh smell and the crackle of a fireplace.


As we all know, hot air rises and if it is going to an uninsulated attic then you are basically heating the outside world again.  Another good way to save energy is to make sure the attic has insulation so that you are trapping your air and not losing it.  There are sustainable options out there for insulation such as cellouse which can be recycled newspaper, cardboard, cotton, straw, sawdust, hemp and corncob.  This option might not be a DIY but you can investigate and then hire someone on to help you if needed.

LED Lighting

LED lighting is highly energy efficient. They convert electrical energy to light more efficiently with less heat loss, so they lower your cost, using on average 85% less electricity for the same light output from a traditional light bulb.  They also have a longer lifespan, are safer as they don’t emit heat, are better for the environment as they don’t contain fluorescent or mercury vapor light, and you are able to use a dimmer system on them! 


When it comes to a sustainable home, windows are very important as they are the main source of energy loss.  A Passive House for example is triple pane glass which means that no heat escapes from the house leaving a warm enjoyable environment inside.  Most windows are single and or double pane so if you were to replace your windows, triple pane would be the way to go.  This one will definitely require the help of a professional, but once this is done, you will notice a difference instantly as less heat will be escaping during the winter and less heat will be penetrating during the summer.



Doors are another culprit for heat loss.  A great way to fix that without having to replace your doors is to add weatherstripping.  It It is a simple and relatively inexpensive way to improve the energy efficiency of your home.  Make sure that you choose a material that can withstand temperature change as we can fluctuate quite a bit here on the West Coast.  You also want it to withstand friction, and the wear and tear of opening and closing the door.  Reinforced vinyl, foam or silicone are good options.

Low Pressure Water

Installing low flow water fixtures can help out the environment as well as your pocketbook.  They save water, energy, money, and create a steady water pressure.  The words “low flow” can deter  people, but the truth is, it reduces the amount of water but it still offers great pressure for an enjoyable shower.  They are easy to install and can be used all over the house from showerheads and faucets to low flow toilets.


Installing smart thermostats around the house is a great way to save energy.  They can reduce your energy bill by 23% by keeping your space cool when it is not needed.  A smart thermostat can learn your behavior over time making them a bit better than programmable ones where you simply set the time you want the temperature to go up or down.

In Conclusion

When it comes to DIY projects at home, as you can see there is no shortage of ways you can improve the energy efficiency of your home.  Some items on the list will require a professional’s help, while others you can tackle at home on the weekends by yourself! All you need is a plan, the right tools and some extra time to take on something that will end up saving you money in the long run and let’s not forget a smaller carbon footprint!!

At GNAR Inc we are passionate about creating sustainable homes, let us know how we can help you bring your dream house to life.  Call us at 604.962.1611 or email for more information.