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Water & Electric

Toronto Passive Home Design

Owners have the highest effect on the amount of water and energy used in their buildings.  Over 30% of the energy use in houses is at the discretion of the user.  This limits architects and engineer’s ability to reduce the energy requirements of a building. 

Using LED lighting in combination with layering of types of fixtures will maximize lighting flexibility and minimize energy use.

Appliances should be as efficient as possible as well as reflect the use patterns of the owners. In our house for example, we have a chest freezer in the kitchen as well as an upright refrigerator with out a freezer compartment.  This combination ensures maximum storage size and energy efficiency.  it also reflects our preference for buying the highest quality food on sale for use at a later date.  Someone more interested in fresh food storage would have a different set up.

Low flow fixtures are now the standard but be sure to fully understand what that means.  It is a balancing act based on individual preferences.  Low flow showers may require longer shower times to remove soap from long hair.  Some are fine with shorter showers with more flow, but restricting flow for others saves the hot water for the rest.  Tank-less hot water systems provide a continuous supply of hot water but if everyone had one, spikes in energy during peak times would ensue requiring larger infrastructure. Tanks moderate these spikes by storing water over longer periods, but this expends more energy overall.  Each type has a place depending on the situation. High quality water saving toilets are available but many are disappointing.  Composting toilets take us to another level of sustainability, but are not for everyone.   

Roof water collection for gardening is a simple way to save water. Using roof water for toilets as well is possible but requires more upfront costs and permits. Collecting water for use in potable situation is a much more complex proposition in cities. Although as I write this realize we do this at cottages with lake water all the time.