Last winter many Canadians were caught off guard by extreme cold weather, power outages or gas shortages. As this year’s winter season approaches and many Canadians plan to spend an increased amount of time indoors, NAIMA Canada would like to remind homeowners that the most effective home protection from winter is a tight building envelope.

“An under-performing building envelope is the main reason why the average Canadian spends unnecessary money on heating costs,” notes Jay Nordenstrom, Executive Director of NAIMA Canada. “A robust building envelope means homeowners decrease their energy needs. This lowers monthly heating bills, along with the associated greenhouse gas emissions, and enhances comfort during catastrophic winter weather.”

A building envelope is “tech talk” to describe the building components that separate the indoors from the outdoors. A home with a modern building envelope–well-insulated, properly sealed, and well-ventilated–can provide shelter during the most brutal weather conditions. It also provides insurance in the event that the furnace is disabled by a power outage.

An effective building envelope has a weather barrier, air barrier, and thermal barrier. Signs of a deficient building envelope can include condensation around windows, drafts and cold floors.

Paying a premium for a house with increased wall and attic insulation makes sense since a well-sealed building envelope provides month-over-month payback by lowering heating and cooling bills.  Savings vary.  Find out why in the seller’s fact sheet on R-values.  Higher R-values mean greater insulating power.

While new construction offers the best opportunity for creating a high-performance building envelope, renovations also offer many opportunities. The most beneficial include installing appropriate amounts of insulation and weather sealing where drafts and air leakages are occurring. Many of these upgrades can be done as do-it-yourself projects.

Ensuring that your building envelope has proper draft proofing and the right amount of insulation remains one of the best things you can do to protect yourself from winter’s chill and the accompanying increased heating bills. While often not top of mind, renovating the building’s envelope can play a significant role in reducing a building’s energy consumption.