Sunday, December 13, 2009

Home Energy Audit

I was pleasantly surprised recently to find out that our new house is actually a lot more energy efficient than other houses of its age.

After an evaluation conducted by a home energy advisor, the house rates 69 points on the EnerGuide scale (a scale from 0 - 100, with 80-100 points being the most efficient category). The 69-point rating only puts the house in the mid-efficiency range, but when compared with other houses of its age, its quite good. The average energy efficiency rating for a house of this age in Ontario is 42, whereas the highest rating achieved by the most energy efficient houses in this category is 83.

With some relatively minor fixes of air leaks in the house, increasing the insulation in the attic, and changing to a high-efficiency furnace and a tankless hot water system, we can improve the energy efficiency rating of the house to 74, allowing us to save money on fuel bills, and reduce our GHG emissions by 1.5 Tonnes/year! Of course, we are planning some fairly major upgrades to the house, and sustainable living is a big theme of ours, so it will be really interesting to see what the EnerGuide rating is after the renovation.

The home energy audit program is sponsored by the Ontario Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources Canada. For about $300, a licensed home energy advisor will perform an audit on your house showing how the home uses energy and where it is being leaked. The audit identifies improvements you can make to your home's heating, cooling, hot water heating and other energy uses that could result in hundreds of dollars in energy savings each year.

The Government of Ontario will pay 50% of your Home Energy Audit, up to $150.

The audit will explain your home's energy use – attic to basement. A typical audit involves the following steps:
- A walk-through assessment of your home's insulation, heating and cooling systems and other energy uses
- A “blower door” depressurization test to identify leaks and drafts
- A personalized Energy Efficiency Evaluation Report

Many of the energy-saving upgrades identified by your Home Energy Audit will qualify you for rebates under the Home Energy Retrofit Program. These rebates from the Governments of Ontario and Canada can reimburse you up to $10,000 when you complete improvements identified by your audit. We have 18 months, or until March 31, 2011 to complete the improvements in order to qualify for the rebates.

To get started, go the the Ontario Ministry of Energy's website and search for a certified home evaluation company in your area. An appointment with a home energy advisor can usually be set up within two weeks. There is virtually nothing to loose by having it done, but just remember to do it before you start any renovations. Otherwise, you cannot claim the rebates.

Post Script: After publishing this post, I came across the my-green-home.ca - a site that tells how a local Ottawa home owner, Bill Eggertson, took his house built in 1985 and brought it up to 85 points on the EnerGuide scale. That's within the top 2% of all houses in Canada and even beyond the 80 point rating required for an R2000 home. In the future, the owner hopes to make the home completely energy neutral and carbon neutral by installing a photo-voltaic system on the roof and selling electricity back to the grid during periods when the power is not needed at home. It's a reminder that even older houses can be renovated up the highest energy efficiency standards. there is an article about Mr. Eggertson's home renovation journey in the December 12 issue of the Ottawa Citizen.

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