Put a hat (on your house)
Bitter winter weather has lots of us thinking about ways to stay warm. In this week’s Hot Home Products column, I pointed to the role insulation has to play, and featured a new formaldehyde-free product from Owens Corning called EcoTouch.
It’s big news in the building world. Andy Goyda, marketing development manager for Owens Corning Canada, says it’s probably the most significant change he’s seen during the 35 years plus he’s been with the company.
Why is the absence of formaldehyde important? Goyda explains. “As emphasis on energy efficiency in housing has grown, buildings have been getting tighter and better sealed. That means you have to pay attention to indoor air quality, and remove things that add toxicity to the air.”
EcoTouch Pink has been certified byGreenguard Environmental Institute, which does third-party assessment of products and materials for low chemical emissions. As an aside, Building Greenis reporting that a US-based company, UL Environment, has acquired Greenguard, noting that the same outfit acquired Canada’s EcoLogo in August of last year.
He also suggests that it’s easier to handle — less dusty and itchy — than other products. (I haven’t tried the new EcoTouch yet, but I hope to soon. In the meantime, I can say that I have found Roxul mineral insulation to be extremely user-friendly)
A well-insulated home, says Goyda, saves up to 20 per cent on heating and cooling costs. Average homes built in Toronto in the last 60 years have probably been built to a R-value of 20. The building code in Ontario now stipulates R-40, but that will be bumped up to R-50 in 2012. Moving from R-40 to R-50 would not only save a family money, but would save up to half a ton in green house gas emissions.
So why don’t more homeowners think about their insulation? If, as Goyda says, “insulating an attic is like putting a toque on in the winter” why do some seven million Canadians have under-insulated attics?
Goyda admits it’s hard to understand, but adds that he’s sure that consumers are becoming more aware of the benefits of proper insulation. “What will really turn it around will be rising energy costs, and when people see an economic benefit. Energy Star homes are a classic example. It may be more expensive to buy, but it saves money in the long run. In a four year period, ES has gained command of 20 per cent of single family homes sales. I don’t know of another energy program that has captured that share in that amount of time.”
Godya notes that rebate programs went a long way to encourage people to insulate, and he expects more programs will be available in the future. “I cannot see the Feds not coming out with another program,” he says. “They were caught by surprise by the success of the ecoENERGY program. It wasn’t brought to a close because it wasn’t working. They did it because they didn’t budget enough for it.”