As the mercury continues to drop, families across the GTA begin to haul the heavy coats, mitts, toques and scarves out of storage. Preparing our bodies for the harsh Canadian is always a tedious task and a sad reminder of the cold months that lay ahead.
Just like our bodies, our houses need special attention during cold winter months. We all know that heating costs go up this time of year; however, there are steps we can take to save money as well as make our homes more energy efficient. Toronto Property Managers and Landlords, in particular, are faced with challenges, as we might have multiple properties to care for as well as tenants that need to comply with our energy saving initiative.
Some ways to save on energy costs in the winter are simple and require minor changes to habits while others may involve the purchase and installation of energy efficient units.
In Toronto, heating can account for up to 60 per cent of your electricity bill.
The following tips can help save you a lot of money, while not compromising the comfort level in your home.
- Replace your old thermostat with a programmable one to manage your heating automatically. Energy savings will quickly pay for the cost of the thermostat in the first year.
- When we’re sleeping or not home, a lot of energy goes into heating rooms that are not occupied. By setting the thermostat to 18°C when you’re asleep and –20°C when you’re not home, you can reduce heating costs by up to 10 per cent.
- How long have you had your furnace? Take a look at the Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency (AFUE) rating. The higher the rating, the more efficient the model. If it’s not up to snuff, replace it. You can receive a $250 credit from the Save ONenergy HEATING & COOLING INCENTIVE.
- Once you have an efficient furnace, make sure to maintain it properly. Furnaces that are well-maintained run at full efficiency take less energy to run and can save you heaps on your energy bill. Clean or replace the filter monthly and have it serviced by a licenced HVAC professional once a year.
- Draft space? Air leakage can account for as much as 25 per cent of your total heating costs. By caulking and weatherstripping windows, doors, dryers and other vents, you can decrease air leakage significantly. Even little things like installing insulated plates on electrical outlets can make a big difference.
- Up to 25 per cent of heat loss is through windows. Older houses were with single pane windows, which are ineffective in keeping the warmth in and the cold out. As a temporary solution, plastic window covers can help reduce drafts and can be purchased at most hardware stores. You can replace the windows altogether with Low-E double paned windows. These windows contain argon gas between the panes which acts as a great insulator in both the winter and summer months. Although they can be pricey, they’re worth the investment in the long run.
- Don’t waste heat. Close doors and shut off heat registers when you’re not in the room.
- When you turn on your furnace, do not switch your thermostat to a hotter setting than you need. It will not heat the room any faster.
Increase the amount of insulation in your home to keep it warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. The attic and basement represent as much as 15 – 30 per cent of your home’s overall heating and cooling losses. Make sure you add attic vents so hot air can escape.
- Let the sun shine in. During the day, keep your curtains open to heat your home naturally.
Whether you’re looking to cut costs in your home or rental property, sharing the vision with your family or tenants can be helpful. Setting habits that fall into your kids daily routine can be fun and will give them a sense of responsibility. As for your tenants, engage in conversation with them through letters, emails, or direct calls. Be sure to ask for their feedback as this will build a stronger relationship with your tenants, and will allow for higher buy-ins in future initiatives.
Are Mortgage Rates in Canada on the Rise?
In an announcement made last week by Toronto Real Estate Board President Mark McClean, GTA home sales showed the best results on record to date. With 8,804 home sales reported through TREB’s MLS® system, October was a favourable month for Greater Toronto Area REALTORS®.
Additionally, The MLS® Home Price Index (HPI) Composite Benchmark was up by 10.3 per cent year over year in October. Over the same period, the average selling price for all home types combined was up by 7.3 per cent to $630,876. Price growth continued to be driven by the low-rise market segments.
Source: Toronto Real Estate Board
Although sales are robust and predicted to climb in the upcoming year, some believe that the province-wide municipal land transfer tax that the Wynne government plans to introduce could affect the market. When asked their opinions on the new tax, the vast majority of Ontario residents surveyed opposed it.
In mortgage-related news, Stats Canada released new data on the labour force, which showed improvement during the month of October. A total of 44,000 new jobs were created, the majority of which, however, were part-time. There was also a substantial increase in employment in the manufacturing sector, which shows hope for the state of our Loonie. If this trend continues, we could head toward a more sustainable economy. How does this all affect mortgage rates? It is predicted it is less likely that we will experience another cut in the Bank of Canada’s lending rate, and mortgage rates will eventually rise. Last week, five-year fixed mortgage rates increased across the board and range between 2.54% to 2.69%. There is no need to worry, as there is no sign of a significant spike, just a more optimistic outlook for our economy. Another contributing factor to a change in rates is what our neighbours to the south are planning—it’s a matter of time before their rates go up, and inevitably, we must follow suit.
If you’re a parent of a Millennial kid (an adult child), then your you might want to plan your empty (or not so empty) nest arrangements accordingly
All jokes aside, more and more Millennials are moving back home, despite higher incomes and educations than previous generations. Do you have a Millennial kid (18-34 years of age) that wants to come back to crowd the nest? Click here for some pointers for living with adult children.
From all of us at HighGate, we’d like to wish you a happy Labour Day weekend!
What does it mean to be rich?
What does it mean to be rich? Is it a fancy car parked in your driveway? Maybe a six or seven figure salary? For many Canadians, wealth is measured monetarily—the amount in your savings and chequing accounts, RRSPs, investments, and value of your assets. It seems as though people are on a constant chase for financial gain, seeking new ways of building capital even if it means sacrificing time that could have otherwise been spent with loved ones, in order to fill your bank account. Some people are so preoccupied with chasing financial wealth that it impacts their physical and emotional health, as well as their relationships. Wealth or “being rich” is truly a relative term, and the way you define it can determine the actions you take to achieve it. If you believe your life currently lacks abundance and happiness, will a $1 million cheque change your outlook? Not likely.
What if there was a long-term investment that provided an abundance of socio-emotional wealth? An investment that would appreciate in value, however, didn’t require time away from your family. In fact, it could provide a base for your family to grow, and could possibly pass on to future generations.
According to a study performed by TD Bank, nearly 40 per cent of investors believe real estate is an investment in which they will always see a financial benefit, with 74 per cent of respondents viewing their own home as a real estate investment. When compared to other sectors, real estate is considered an investment that people are confident will provide future returns, ranking second behind the financial sector.
Investing in property provides both financial and socio-emotional benefits. For Canadians, there are opportunities for a number of tax deductions and exemptions for homeowners. Not only is a home an asset that could be part of a portfolio, it provides a shelter for your family and can be a place to foster the of positive relationships. By teaching your children the long-term financial and emotional value of real estate early, you can help instill a mindset that understands the various forms of wealth. While traditional savings accounts may not be considered risky, they provide a low return. Instilling lessons regarding real estate as a long-term investment could lead to a rewarding path for your children, as well as future generations. Your home is one of the most valuable assets you will have in your lifetime, bring both emotional and financial return on investment. The peace of mind knowing it will provide security for your retirement, and also for your children even after you pass is something you can’t put a price on.
Questions about real estate, investments, or property management in Toronto? Contact us! We’d love write about it in an upcoming highgateproperties.ca blog post.