Walk through an energy efficient home

Imagine owning a home that doesn’t need a furnace. It can be done, and for less than you’d expect.



Online only.


Imagine living in a home that is so efficient it doesn’t need a furnace. Unless you’re living in the tropics it sounds like fantasy, right? Tell that to Reiner Hoyer. The renovation consultant recently transformed his 1950s-style bungalow into a two-storey home in the north end of Toronto that is a model of energy efficiency and style—and no it doesn’t have a furnace.

It sounds hard to believe, but Hoyer thinks his home is the wave of the future in Canada. If anything, he says, Canada’s behind the curve. Hoyer’s home is based off the “passive house” standard developed in Germany. The standard puts emphasis on upgrading the building envelope, or exterior structure of the building, to make sure it’s well insulated and airtight. Buildings using this approach have seen a drastic reduction in the amount of energy they use for heating or cooling.

While there are few passive homes in Canada, there are more than 20,000 houses in Germany using this technology. And there will be many more soon. A European Union resolution passed in 2008 calls on each member state to adopt the passive house standard by 2016 for all new construction and major renovation projects.

“We’ve been building houses backwards our whole life,” says Hoyer. Normally, pipes and air ducts start to get added to a home once the framing is done; but in a passive house the mechanical and insulation is kept completely separate. And the only way to do that is to fully insulate the house first, right down to the floor and then fit the duct work and pipes into the house.

Of course, building an airtight home is only the beginning. Triple-paned windows, solar panels and an innovative heat recovery system keep Hoyer’s house comfortable year round. Hoyer has even cut his water bill by installing a rainwater cistern in his backyard to supply his toilets.

The cost to build a home like this isn’t as high as you might think. Hoyer estimates features like the ones in his home would add about 6% to 7% to construction costs. “It’s a no brainer,” he says. “Going forward this is the cheapest house to own.”

The payoff has been dramatic. Despite more than tripling the size of his home, Hoyer’s utility bills are about $1,200 for the year, a third of what he spent on his old bungalow, and less than half the national average.

See how it all comes together in this video.


Do you want to cut your utility bill in half? In “The home energy makeover” we show you the projects you can do on your own and identify which projects give you the biggest bang for your buck.

9 comments on “Walk through an energy efficient home

  1. i am so happy to see the move in canada. we are tying since three years to talk and convice people but the result is very poor. it might help with the media, with this little article. thank you, thank you, thank you -spouse of the certified passive house engineer, bc, invermere


  2. how much was the 12 inches 2 pound spray foam under the basement floor?????


    • Rigid EPS or XPS insulation would have been used beneath the basement concrete slab and it is significantly cheaper than spray foam. Up to 20-30% of all heat loss in a home actually occurs through the foundation walls and concrete floor slab.


  3. Who does a person call to get pricing information etc. ?


  4. How do you keep utilities down to 1200.00 a year if you are using Hydro to run a heat pump and air circulating system with an HRV? My Hydro alone for a house with a conventional gas furnace is about 250.00 a month.


    • We read: “Hoyer’s utility bills are about $1,200 for the year.” Hydro alone charges about $600 a year for carriage and debt reduction, which does not leave much for light and cooking. The text of this particular article is indeed incredible, i.e. not to be believed.


  5. I'm an avid supporter of green energy. I'm very much amazed with the video you shared. I also want to have an energy efficient home. This is such a good investment, not only at present time but for future generation as well. I started by having solar panels.


  6. Well, I think this is a good news for everyone. Indeed, a very economical way to own a solar panel and enjoy the benefits of green energy. In this case, solar panels were used as roofng.


Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *