Matt Lukas shares how he is building a ‘green’ home!

house under construction

I would consider myself to be environmentally conscious – I recycle, use the green bin and try to keep as much garbage out of our landfills as possible. But owning a home and being green goes beyond just what you put out at the curb every week.

When working with our builder, we talked a lot about resource consumption (water, electricity and natural gas), so we’ve elected for a high efficiency gas furnace, heat recovery ventilator, on-demand hot water heater, energy efficient windows & doors, spray foam insulation. During my research I found some great resources and incentives that are worthwhile looking into further.

First, Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation takes energy efficient homes seriously – so much so, that they offer a 10% refund on your CMHC premiums if your home qualifies under the Energy Star guidelines. Not only will you save money on your utility bills – but, take that refund and apply it back to your mortgage as a principal payment – over 25 years you will save hundreds in interest costs and pay your Mortgage off sooner, it’s a win-win situation!

Let’s say you aren’t building a brand new home, have you ever considered having an energy audit done on your current home?

At our last house, we did. What an eye opening experience that was!

green house infographic

https://www.energystar.gov/

The audit revealed where the house excelled from resource consumption and where there were areas for opportunity. We had some windows and a sliding glass door that were identified as potential leak areas, and we needed to replace a mid-efficiency furnace – these were more major expenses, however, we also noticed some inexpensive fixes: silicone replacement, receptacle insulation, programmable thermostat, energy star light bulbs, low flush toilets, flashing repairs and door seals.

We did a number of high return repairs and improved our initial score from adequately efficient to most energy efficient. The investment we made in our home went beyond the obvious electricity and natural gas savings – it helped us market our home to interested buyers, and reduced our greenhouse gas emissions by 0.6 tonnes per year.

 

If you have been considering ways to go green here are some great resources for more information:

Home Energy Efficiency – Natural Resources Canada: http://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy/efficiency/housing

Green Housing – CMHC: http://www.cmhc.ca/en/co/grho/index.cfm

CMHC Green Home Rebate: http://www.cmhc.ca/en/co/moloin/moloin_008.cfm

Energy Audit Information – Barrier Sciences Group: http://www.barriersciences.com/services

Can living on a budget improve your health? You betcha!

 

woman lifting weights with trainer

5 Ways Living On a Budget Improves Your Health

You’ll be eating less food that’s bad for you

We all know how easy it is to slip through the Tim Horton’s drive through on the way to work, grab a quick lunch at McDonalds, and/or order pizza on Friday night because we’re exhausted by the end of the week. However, these spending habits add up! Several years ago my husband and I were in the habit of ordering pizza every Friday night for our family of five. With an average bill of $40 including tip, I calculated that we were spending about $2,000 a year – on pizza! We now make our own pizza every Friday night – it not only costs less, the toppings we use make it much more nutritious. Plus, it’s delicious!

2 male hikers

Budget friendly entertainment often involves more exercise

Consider going hiking, playing tag with your kids, taking a bike ride, or going to the community pool. Budget friendly entertainment can take you outdoors to explore, walk and play, which is great for both the body and mind. It’s also a terrific way to improve your health in the process.

 

When your budget is in place and you aren’t creating more debt, you will have less stress

Financial strain is one of the biggest causes of stress in most families. Added stress can lead to health issues like:

  •  Heart disease                                                       man with hands on his head because he is stressed
  • High blood pressure
  • Asthma
  • Obesity
  • Diabetes
  • Headaches
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Gastrointestinal problems

 

When you are living on a budget, you can relieve stress by paying off debt, and staying out of debt. Creating and maintaining an emergency savings fund will also help to relieve stress.

You have more money to spend toward a gym membership or equipment 

A budget does more than just provide a blueprint for living within your means. It can also help you to save money for things that really matter to your quality of life. This could include a gym membership, personal exercise equipment, or working out with a personal trainer.

Poor spending habits hurt relationships, while good spending habits can help relationships 

Relationships are greatly impacted by a family’s financial situation. The stress of poor financial decision making can cause overwhelming stress and friction between family members. Not only does this effect relationships, it can lead to worsening physical health. Changing spending habits and decreasing debt load can alleviate stress and force couples and families to focus more on their relationships. Parents also provide a good role model to kids, because kids tend to emulate the spending habits of their parents.

 

The moral of this story? Living on a budget really can help you to improve your health. Your health is more important than owning a fancy car, designer purse or an expensive house you can’t really afford . By creating and adhering to a realistic budget , you can improve both your physical and mental health.

Need help creating a budget that you can live with? Contact your local YNCU branch to make an appointment. We have locations all over Southwestern Ontario, and now in Sault Ste. Marie and Timmins too!