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Sherry Donovan's Blog!


Green Holiday

It kind of puts you in the festive spirit when wherever you go you hear Christmas music playing, people are rushing around buying presents, eggnog are being consumed and people trying to fit in lots of visiting and trying to get everything done in time to celebrate the holidays. You can be sure that most of us are expending a lot of energy to make sure we don’t forget anyone on our lists. However, are we putting as much effort in our own homes and the amount of energy we can save at the top of our minds during this festive time?

Regardless of whether or not you want to make your house to win the most decorated house on the street, you can still have this honour and keep cost savings in mind.
“Energy efficient construction is an extremely important consideration when building or renovating your home,” says Paul Pettipas, chief executive officer of the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association. “In saying this, we want to make sure homeowners also know how to incorporate energy efficient savings year round on items that aren’t included in the construction process, after the house is built, especially during the holiday season.”

A few suggestions for consideration include:

  • Although you may be holding onto older, non-energy efficient holiday lights for the nostalgic memories they hold for you and your family, you may want to consider purchasing new LED holiday lights for the exterior and interior of your home - LED lights use up to 98% less energy than traditional lights and can last 50 times longer. They are an excellent choice for the outside of your house and on the tree as well.
  • Install timers on your lights - Using timers on holiday lights is one way to help save energy. Setting your lights to come on at dusk and go off when you are sleeping will result in you not using as much energy as you would if you left the lights on all day and night.
  • Recycle your ornaments from previous holiday seasons – Although this is not so much an energy efficiency tip, it is an important consideration in terms of waste reduction. Reuse your ornaments from past years rather than purchasing new ones each year. This helps to reduce waste in the landfills and helps you to create new memories and traditions for your family.
Make the holidays about spending time with family and friends and if this is possible while making energy efficient and environmental friendly choices throughout your holiday season, not only will you save money, all the better for everyone! The NSHBA wishes everyone a happy and safe holiday.

Water Conservation – Part 2

Herald Homes – The Chronicle Herald
Sherry Donovan, NSHBA

Water is a part of everything we do which is why conserving the water we do have is so important. We are fortunate in our province not to have a water shortage issue. YET! If all of us don’t do our part to make sure we conserve this resource, than we soon won’t have the option of this luxury.

As mentioned last week, did you get a chance to take a look around your home and identify areas where you could reduce your water consumption, or where repairs could be made to certain products where leaks may be occurring?

“Conserving water now makes good sense,” says Paul Pettipas, Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association’s chief executive officer. “Changing our habits now can result in great cost savings to you in the long term and help protect our water supply.”

A few tips to consider:


Older toilets could use as much as 18 litres or more of water per flush. If you have a toilet that is older than 15 years old, this is likely the case. Changing it out for a six litre or dual flush option will create water savings.

If your toilet is running continually, check the flush valve and make sure it fits properly. This is an inexpensive fix. One astounding fact I found in my research on the Environment Canada website was that a running toilet could create 200,000 litres of wasted water annually if it is a large enough leak. To test if your toilet is leaking, place a few drops of food colouring in the toilet tank and if you notice there is coloured water in the bowl a few seconds later, you have your answer – a leaky toilet!

Showerheads & Faucets

The use of conventional showerheads can result in the use of 15 – 20 litres per minute. Changing  your showerhead will create reduced water consumption and annual savings on your water bill. The other tip when it comes to showering is to shorten the length of time you spend in the shower, or if baths are your preferred choice, use less water when filling the tub.

Faucets can become leaky as well, and can result in upwards of 10,000 litres of wasted water per year, if the leak is only one to two drops per second, according to Environment Canada’s website. Think about the savings you will see just by changing out a leaky faucet. 

General Tips

How many times have you left the faucet running to make sure the water is cold before filling your glass? Try keeping a container of water in the fridge and not only will you reduce your water consumption, you will always have cold water at your fingertips.

In the end, it is much easier to conserve water which will help maintain the life of the municipal water plants rather than to have to spend significant amounts of money to build new infrastructure. Little steps go a long way!

For more information on building or renovating visit


Why Would we Conserve Water?

Herald Homes – The Chronicle Herald
Sherry Donovan, NSHBA

The topic of water has been loud and clear over the past weeks and months as we start to see significant increases in our water bills, and if they haven’t increased in all areas of the province, there is always a possibility if not now, than in the future, so when it comes to water, there is one theme – CONSERVATION.

New construction, under the Nova Scotia Building Code, is mandated to use low flow taps, showers and toilets and the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association (NSHBA) would like to see conservation of water a part of all existing houses as well.

This stems from the fact that in the Halifax Regional Municipality, Halifax Water will be looking for $2.5 billion over the next 30 years from new and existing customers of the utility. Six hundred million dollars of this will be borne by new home purchasers in the form of a “growth fee” on Building Permits over this time period.

So what can we do about this? We can look at the way we use water in our own homes and start to make changes that will reduce water consumption, reduce the need for such added costs if you want to purchase a new home and, while you’re at it, you will save money on your water bills.

 “Water conservation makes perfect sense,” says Paul Pettipas, NSHBA chief executive officer. “Nova Scotia is a leader in energy efficiency, so why don’t we step up and add water conservation to the things our province is great at accomplishing?”

This week, take a walk through your home, inside and out and identify what areas you are using the most water. Are you wasting water? Are there things you can do to reduce your consumption and create more water efficient practices? Next week we will look at specific water conservation practices that you can implement that will not only reduce your consumption, but will save you money.

For more information on building or renovating visit


What’s in a Home?

When you think of home, what comes to mind? Is it a special room your family can kick back and relax in or is it the thought of an exciting new kitchen or bathroom? The word home evokes a wide range of different thoughts in everyone’s minds.
Imagine the possibilities you will find when you visit the Real Home Show 2013 taking place March 1 – 3 at the Halifax Forum. There will be everything from land to new home builders, designers, interior and exterior finishes - everything from your foundation to your roof and everything in between.
Gathering ideas and talking to those who work with people who are building and renovating their homes everyday allows you to gain information that will make it easier for you to make the right decisions for you and your family.
You may find the right layout for your new home, the perfect location, the contractor to meet your building or renovation needs, or a great new product you hadn’t considered or known about before seeing it at the show. You won’t know what nugget you will find until you visit and talk to the pros.
There really is something for everyone – mark your calendar, you don’t want to miss out on this opportunity to realize the possibilities for your home.


Efficiency Nova Scotia Demonstration Homes Last Weekend for Open House

Energy efficiency is top-of-mind when homeowners are considering building or buying a new home. This year, the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association, in partnership with Efficiency Nova Scotia presented two of the most energy efficient homes in Nova Scotia – the Efficiency Nova Scotia Demonstration Homes to demonstrate what is possible for homeowners who want to make energy efficiency a priority in new home construction

There have been several questions in regards to photovoltaic (PV) panels and solar thermal panels throughout the weeks the homes have been opened. The homes are close to net-zero, which means the home is able to produce as much energy as is required to operate, which is large part due to the on-site renewable energy sources the homes use. The reason two different panel systems are used on the demonstration homes is because they each have a different purpose. The PV system generates electricity and the solar thermal water panels heat hot water.

When speaking with Caleb Howden from Denim Homes, one of the Efficiency Nova Scotia Demonstration Homes builders, he explains the two systems and how they tie into net metering as follows:

Solar Thermal Water

The solar thermal water panels do not generate electricity, they are there to specifically heat water. Many homes use electric water heaters to create hot water, which accounts for approximately 20% of the home’s electricity demand. The water panels absorb the sun’s energy and transfers it into a liquid (usually glycol), and this liquid is circulated through a heat exchanger in your hot water tank, heating the water rather than electrically heating cold water from the street (or well). When the sun is shining, you are provided with sufficient hot water for your home, and will probably only need the heating element in your tank on the coldest days of the year.


Photovoltaic (PV) systems generate electricity. The Sackville home has the PV system Grid-Tied interacting with the utility. The PV panels mount on your roof, converting sunlight directly into electricity. That electricity is used to power the house and whatever is not used is directed to the grid. This is called a grid-tied PV system, utilizing Net Metering.

Net Metering

Net metering allows Nova Scotia Power customers to connect their home to the utility’s distribution grid through a meter that measures electricity flows in two directions. In such a system you have a meter that allows the electricity your panels are generating to flow on to the grid, crediting your account. Net metering customers will receive payment for the amount of excess electricity generated. The Net Metering program provides Nova Scotians with a risk-free way to meet their own energy needs from renewable sources while still having the security of being able to draw from the grid when needed.

This is the last weekend the homes will be open to the public. For more information on the details and locations of the homes visit or phone 450-5554.