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Shrink your electricity bill and carbon footprint with these environmental upgrades

Many Canadians try to recycle, compost and cut down on water use to reduce their environmental impact. However, one of the largest aspects of your environmental footprint is actually your home’s energy use. For those looking to reduce their home’s energy consumption, the Canadian government has begun offering grants of up to $5000 that can be used towards the installation of energy-saving projectsincluding solar panels, high-efficiency water heaters and improved insulation, as well as $600 of coverage for EnerGuide evaluations to help you plan your retrofits.2 Learn more about these environmental upgrades and how to insure them.
Solar panels
The popularity of solar panels is on the rise across the country - according to Canada Energy Regulator, generation growth of solar energy in Canada from 2005 to 2015 increased by 2344%.3 Solar panels may seem expensive up front, but they do pay off in the long run - the average pay back period for solar shoppers is about eight years.In addition, you can rest assured knowing the planet is benefitting from your use of a renewable energy source.

When you include solar panels in your home insurance coverage, most damage that might happen to the attachments are covered. This typically includes accidents caused by wind, hail, lightning, vandalism, broken tree limbs and fire.5 In the event that your solar panel is placed on a separate building (like a garage or barn), there is a set limit of coverage for those structures which you should check before installing. Special additional coverage may be helpful here, so talk to your insurance broker to explore your options. Finally, to avoid unnecessary risks, make sure to use an alarm system to prevent theft and ground your panels to avoid damage from lightening.6
Water heaters
Many homeowners don’t know that water heaters over 10-12 years old need to be replaced. If you don’t upgrade to a new water heater when it’s time, your home insurance has the ability to deny coverage for any water damage it may cause. Replacing your old water heater with a newer energy efficient model can significantly reduce your heater’s electricity use. As the heater ages, lime deposits building up at the bottom of the tank can begin reducing its efficiency by as much as 20%.Look for an ENERGY STAR® qualified heater to find a new unit that’s energy efficient.

The certification plate on your water heater will tell you when it was manufactured. If you’re not sure if it needs to be replaced, check your home insurance policy or call your insurance provider to confirm how often the water heater must be replaced in order to be covered.
When it comes to insulation, there’s lot of things you can do, even on your own, to make your home more energy efficient. Adding in extra insulation or replacing your existing insulation with new insulation that has a higher R-value (the measurement of how well it keeps in heat) can make a big difference. Insulating your attic, ceiling, exterior walls, crawl space, basement, and water heater are great places to start.
You can also improve the insulation of your home by making it as airtight as possible. Sealing doorways and windows with rubber weatherstripping and installing thicker curtains is a great way to prevent air leaks while keeping cold air out during the winter.8

Before you start your environmental upgrades, it’s a good idea to get an EnerGuide evaluation of your home first so that an expert can advise you on what upgrades your home needs. Then once you’ve decided on the upgrades, make sure you inform your insurer of your plans so that they can adjust your home insurance coverage if necessary. For more details on the federal grant, visit this guide on how to apply to the Canada Greener Homes Grant.

If you have questions about your current OTIP home insurance policy, call 1-800-267-6847. If you would like to get a quote for home insurance, connect with an OTIP broker today at 1-866-561-5559.

  1. CTV News - Feds to offer homeowners $5,000 for making their homes more energy-efficient

  2. Government of Canada

  3. Canada Energy Regulator - Canada’s Adoption of Renewable Power Sources – Energy Market Analysis

  4. Energy Sage – How to calculate solar panel payback period

  5. Forbes – Where solar panels fit in property insurance

  6. Nexergy Solar – Learn about solar

  7. Chicago Tribune – Updating an old water heater can pay off in the long run

  8. Assured Comfort – 8 Little Known DIY Tips on How to Better Insulate Your Home

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