This blog explores changes in the energy industry from an insider’s perspective as it transitions from the old centralized utility model to the new paradigm of distributed generation.
This blog was previously called Inside the Housing Evolution and focused on energy efficient homes. Ultimately, it’s all linked. Soon, every building will have the potential to generate, store, and sell energy. Welcome to the era of the transactive grid – the greatest shift the electricity sector has seen in over 100 years!

November 8, 2010 1 Comment

Preparing Your Home for Winter

We had our first snowfall in Ottawa last week, and while it’s still a little early to get excited about the coming ski season, it’s a good reminder that it’s time to do some annual home maintenance.  Here’s some practical advice to make sure that your home is ready for the next four months of hibernation.


The most important winter maintenance is to check that your furnace is working properly.  At the very least, you should replace your furnace filter.  Furnace filters are designed to protect your furnace from dust and debris before it reaches the furnace fan, but they also protect your health by removing allergens and bacteria that float around in the air.  Furnace filters are only designed to last for a couple of months, and once they get clogged up they block the airflow, causing the furnace fan to work much harder.  This can be costly because it wastes energy, but it also will lead to dirtier indoor air.  If you have an older furnace, or if you find your house has an uneven temperature distribution, you may want to have your furnace and ducts professionally inspected and serviced. 

Thermostat and HRV Controls

If your home has a programmable thermostat, you should re-check the settings to ensure that that the automatic setback points are consistent with the season and your lifestyle.  There’s a misconception that you need to drastically change the temperature of your home to take advantage of the energy savings.  The truth is that you don’t want your indoor temperature to vary by too much or it makes the furnace work even harder to get back to the right temperature.  Turning the temperature down by as little as a couple of degrees while you’re out of the house during the day or while you’re sleeping can save you 8% to 12% on your heating bills.  If your home doesn’t have a programmable thermostat, get one.  You can almost always find some form of rebate on these units because the utilities and the government realize that it is a very cost effective way to save energy.  This is also a good time to ensure that your HRV controls are set for the winter heating season


If you’re like me, you have some windows in your home that you open in May and leave open until November.  Or maybe you have older windows that close, but don’t quite seal properly.  You should go through your house and check that all of your windows are closed and properly sealed.  If you can feel a draft, or if you find cobwebs in front of the window, that’s a sign that the window is not properly sealed.  (Spiders like to build webs in front of leaky windows because they find that’s a good place to catch flies!).  If you have a drafty window, a good cheap fix is to buy a simple window sealing kit from your local hardware store.  These kits allow you to install a plastic film over the window frame that stops drafts.


By now the leaves have all fallen off the trees, and guess where they end up?  Clogging your eavestrough!  It’s very important to clear your eavestrough before the winter because if water can’t run-off your roof properly you run the risk of ice-damming which can cause leaks.  If the eavestrough is blocked, the water will turn to ice and form a dam.  As more water melts from the roof and hits this ice dam it pools and can work its way under the shingles and into your attic.  Not good.  If you find that every winter your house has huge icicles hanging from the eavestrough this is a sign that your home is at risk for ice-damming.  If this is the case, you may want to consider installing heating wires in your eavestrough to ensure that the ice dams melt and water runs down the eavestrough properly.  If ice damming is a big problem for your home, it may be that you don’t have sufficient attic insulation or ventilation.  If this is the case, I would recommend hiring an expert to inspect your attic for proper insulation and ventialtion.

Outdoor Hoses

Drain and store any outdoor hoses. Close the interior valve to your outdoor hose connection and drain the hose bib (exterior faucet), unless your house has frost-proof hose bibs.

Snow Tires

While not technically home maintenance, I always forget to change my tires to winter tires.  Last year I actually spun out on the highway during a snowstorm (luckily no one was hurt)!  So, learn from my mistakes and don’t forget to change your tires to winter tires too!

For a more exhaustive list of seasonal maintenance, check out the CMHC Home Maintenance Schedule.

Posted by Matthew

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Matthew Sachs


  • COO of Peak Power since July 2016
  • General Manager of Urbandale Construction (May 2008 – Oct 2014)
  • Vice-Chair R-2000 Renewal Committee
  • Member of Energy Star Technical Advisory Committee
  • Greater Ottawa Homebuilders Green Committee
  • Recipient of Canadian Homebuilder’s Association 2009 R-2000 Builder of the Year Award
  • Participant in Natural Resources Canada’s Technology Roadmap for Sustainable Housing
  • Energy Consultant with Marbek Resource Consultants (Feb 2002 – May 2006)


Peak Power is a Microgrid project development company focused on delivering innovative solutions to offset the most expensive hours of electric demand. We specialize in optimizing the revenue streams from energy storage, advanced building automation, and renewable technologies for customer sited and utility scale projects. Please visit