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There is a rising awareness and concern about our planet and how environmental issues affect every aspect of our lives. How and where we work, play and even where we live all have an impact on the planet, and today people, from children to seniorsare increasingly interested in how they can make a difference.

Many of today's homeowners are looking at retrofitting their houses to increase the efficiency and help reduce their energy costs as well. Much of the older housing stock that is popular in many ofToronto's neighbourhoods, is currently energy-inefficient. Taking such steps to improve the energy-efficient features that will help keep the home operating costs down and also improve their home comfort are becoming more important to Sellers who want to know what energy and cost-saving features Buyers will value and which upgrades could improve resale marketability. More efficient fixtures, appliances and plumbing could help owners save on utility costs as well as adding to the properties value.

To assist homeowners, NRCan's ecoENERGY Retrofit for Homes program provides up to $5,000 in grants to homeowners who invest in energy efficiency improvements for their home. In order to qualify for the grants, the homeowner must first have a home energy audit conducted by a qualified energy advisor. The cost of an average audit runs about $300. The ecoENERGY grant is based on the type and number of energy improvements that have been made, and how much the efficiency of the home has been improved. The grant is based on the effectiveness in saving energy, not on the cost of the upgrade. Once the upgrades have been completed, a second audit will be done to ensure that the improvements achieve the efficiency goals. Post-retrofit evaluations must be completed by March 31, 2011, or within 18 months from the date of the original pre-retrofit evaluation report to qualify.

Some examples of eligible improvements are:

  • ENERGY STAR qualified gas or oilfurnaces and boilers
  • Ground source heat pumps
  • Low flush and dual flush toilets
  • Solar domestic hot water system
  • Drain-water heat recovery (DWHR) system
  • Ceiling, floor and wall insulation
  • Doors, windows and skylights

For a complete list and information:


Many of us have already started taking steps to change our personal impact on the planet, from changing our light bulbs, buying low-flow shower heads and turning down our thermostat when we're not home. Aside from purchasing organic items, we need to make different choices on a day to day basis within our homes and our lives. We can make those changes throughout our homes starting with how we clean them!

Do you remember growing up with your family home being clean, but not as sterilized and frenzied as today? The ever popular habit of spritzing food & animal odours away, disposable mop tossing and trying to keep our families safe from all germs. More chemicals that pollute are being sprayed inside our homes, raising levels higher than you'll find outdoors. It's time to go back to basics!

  • Make your own cleaning products with simple and natural ingredients and save yourself possibly hundreds of $'s a year on cleaning supplies
  • Buy 100% natural, plant based cleaners free of bleach, phosphates, ammonia, phenols, triclosan etc.
  • Read all of the ingredients on the back of packaging before you purchase it
  • Look for natural concentrated cleaners you can dilute at home and save on packaging over time

Try these:

Toilet cleaner: sprinkle in borax and vinegar, let sit overnight and in the morning, scrub

Draino: cup baking , cup vinegar. Fizz for 5 minutes then boil kettle and pour down drain

Oven cleaner: spray water, sprinkle baking soda, spray water overtop and let sit overnight. Wipe down in the morning, and then clean with pure soap

Burnt food at bottom of pans: sprinkle baking soda and a little water. Sit overnight and in the morning rub and clean with a pure soap. Not only does the food come off completely, your stainless steel pans will shine!

And if you're looking for a green cleaning service that uses all-natural products...

The non-profit National Association of Green Agents and Brokers (NAGAB) was formed in 2007 with the aim of educating real estate professionals on how to reduce the environmental impact of housing by reducing green house gas emissions and increasing home energy conservation. For those NAGAB members, this program educates and empowers Realtors and Brokers, as well as consumers on how to make eco-friendly decisions when it comes to the home.

April Esteves is a proud member of NAGAB.

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