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Every homeowner should read the following for relevant background information about the science behind retrofit techniques and materials as well as for important health and safety information:


  • Section 2, “How your house works

  • Section 3, “Materials

  • Section 9, “Operating your house

Read other sections as required for specific details. Improving energy efficiency is an ongoing process, accomplished bit by bit as you work on your house over the years.

Where more details could be helpful (e.g. information about heating systems and health concerns), we refer to the various sections of our website.

1.2.1 Measuring up

NRCan uses metric measurements and values and provides the imperial equivalent in parentheses, for example, RSI 3.5 (R-20). Some measurements are provided as expressions; for example, a 38 x 89 millimetre (mm) stud is commonly known as a 2 x 4. In these cases, the metric unit of measurement is not indicated because the imperial expressions are those used by the housing industry.

1.2.2 House as a system

Experts at NRCan have gained a great deal of experience with retrofit work over the last five decades. One of the most important lessons is that a house works as a system. Each part is related to all others and making a change in one place causes an effect elsewhere. Section 2, “How your house works”, discusses this in detail.

1.2.3 Codes and standards

Each province or territory and most municipalities have jurisdiction over their respective building codes. Follow local codes; check with your municipal office and building inspector (and utility, if applicable) for requirements and permits.

1.2.4 Recommended techniques

Please note, certain techniques are described as recommended. This means that building scientists and professional contractors believe this approach is the best current practice to follow when retrofitting a house.

1.2.5 Safety warning

Safety warnings indicate that a technique or material requires particular attention or treatment. In these instances, you must take appropriate precautions to protect the health and safety of workers and occupants. With all materials, be sure to read and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations and instructions.

1.2.6 Technical notes

Technical notes offer useful information or advice about a particular technique or procedure. This information is designed to help you ensure that the job is done properly.

1.2.7 Be aware of your responsibility

You and the companies that you select are responsible for verifying the quality and safety of the products and services used whether a building permit is required or not. All products and services must meet relevant building codes and standards.

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