Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Our Home’s Energy Audit

My cute little home is a carbon monster thanks to lousy insulation and inefficient heating.

Jane and I live in a house built in the 1920s. We try to keep the thermostat at about 17 degrees Celsius during the winter, but the inside temperature fluctuates between too hot and too cold. Getting it right is a challenge. So much of that heat escapes and along with it our hard earned money.

So we brought in the energy auditor.

Quick Recap
Jane and I have taken advantage of low interest rates to refinance our home and are tapping into our home’s equity in order to participate in Canada’s ecoEnergy program, an incentive-based program to encourage Canadians to weatherize their drafty houses. Through the program:
  • We bring in an energy auditor to provide a complete assessment of our home’s efficiency and advise on appropriate retrofits for our house.
  • We have 18 months to weatherize our home based on the
  • Once we’re done, we bring in the auditor to reassess our home.
  • We send that assessment and receipts to the federal and provincial governments for rebates.

Our Energy Auditor
Enter Haresh Patel. Haresh is a Certified Energy Advisor with GreenSaver, a Toronto-based not-for-profit organization that provides a full assessment on a home’s energy efficiency.

Haresh took stock of our appliances, measured the house, prodded behind the outlets in vain search of insulation, took lots of pictures and placed a huge turbine contraption at our door to simulate windy conditions. When the turbine was in full throttle we toured the house in search of drafts. And boy did we find them, despite my best caulking efforts.

Haresh is compiling a report for Jane and me. In it we will find out how our house rates in terms of efficiency, as well as a priority list of retrofits to reduce energy loss and utility costs. On a scale of one to one hundred, with one hundred being most efficient, our house will be rated. Haresh suspects it’ll be about 40, which is a lot higher than I predicted.

Preliminary Findings
Haresh discovered what I suspected all along. Our house has no wall insulation, and the attic insulation needs replacing. The following are some recommendations that we can expect in the official report. Happily, we now have $30,000 earmarked for home renovations (most of it for energy retrofits) thanks to refinancing and tapping into our home’s equity.

  • Insulate the walls, attic and crawl space under the living room
  • Replace the old furnace with an ENERGY STAR qualified gas
    furnace (our old furnace is releasing carbon monoxide, which – for some reason - causes concern).
  • Stop venting the furnace through the chimney. Stop up the chimney. So much cold air is drawn into our house that way. Vent through a wall instead.
  • Say goodbye to the conventional water heater, which heats water even when we don’t need it. Purchase a tankless heater, which heats on demand.
  • Waterproof and insulate the basement exterior wall.
  • Seal off the basement header area.
  • Replace all doors and windows, which were installed in the 1980s and about as efficient as an American-built car.
  • Install a vent in the bathroom.
  • Install a heat recovery ventilator that is certified by the Home Ventilating Institute. Once the house is more efficient, it is recommended to keep the home well ventilated.

That’s a long list. Beside each item is a dollar amount that the federal government will payback if installed. For example, the feds will rebate us $500 if we replace our furnace with the specifications outlined in the list. The province will match that amount. That’s $1,000 off an estimated $4,000 furnace, or 25 percent discount. I am not sure what the overall discount will be, but it sure is a helping hand. We will also get some money back from the Home Renovation Tax Credit.

The plan is to apply those rebates to our mortgage’s principal. In the end we will benefit, not only from a much more comfortable and safer house, but from a house with greater home equity.

In the News

Leading climate scientist: 'democratic process isn't working'

Shell dumps wind, solar and hydro power in favour of biofuels

And now for a little humour….

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