1. Energy use monitoring systems.
As Hydro rates rise and provinces, such as Ontario introduce time-of-use billing for electricity, consumers desperate to manage energy costs will snap up this technology. Easily installed products, like Blue Line’s Powercost Monitor (about $60 at www.thesource.ca), which provide real-time information on energy use and are compatible with trend-tracking software, will be especially popular.
2. Smaller is Better.
Money-sucking McMansions will increasingly go the way of the dodo as homeowners face skyrocketing energy bills, a lacklustre economy and social pressure to do more with less.
3. Solar products.
Solar systems for electricity generation and domestic hot water will dot more roofs as energy production capacity grows, product costs shrink and future-thinking governments like Ontario’s, ramp up financial incentives for alternative energy production. (Quebec, you want to take note of that)
4. Formaldehyde-free interiors.
Formaldehyde, a naturally occurring substance added to some adhesives and other products, is considered a potential contributor to upper respiratory irritation, asthma, and, at very high levels, even cancer.
5. Wool carpets.
Nolan also sees a jump in the popularity of wool carpets. Wool is sustainable — it comes from sheep, after all — and free of the off-gassing that characterizes synthetic carpets. Nolan says that wool carpets have dropped from upwards of $100 a square yard to as little as $35.
6. Super-efficient windows.
Triple-glazed windows, some with xenon gas fill and boasting insulation values of up to R-13, will become the new darling of the eco-conscious homeowner, according to EcoHome Magazine (www.ecohomemagazine.com). These windows can cost 20- to 30 -per-cent more than double-glazed, low-E windows, but their energy efficiency is impressive.
7. Buying local.
Like the 100-mile diet, buying locally-produced products salves the environmental mind. The trick is to ensure that the product is produced within a 500-mile radius, not just supplied by a local company. Even marble, which often comes from Italy or elsewhere, can be found locally: Polycor (www.polycor.com) in the Eastern Townships quarries it or hardwood flooring made from 100-year-old logs pulled from the river looks good and also boosts the local economy.