Learn how your home really works, The Province Sunday May 8th
May 9, 2011Do not spend money on cosmetics in favour of energy-saving solutions
With a Conservative majority federal government in place, we may see the return of the eco Energy Retrofit Program to join our reinstated LiveSmart BC provincial program. Who knows, we may even see the return of the Home Renovation Tax Credit.
Whatever the case may be, I want to continue with my education program so that you can "prioritize" your upgrades to get the best quality of life, comfort and savings from your energy-efficiency upgrades.
Over the years, government has provided energy auditors to perform energy audits on our homes to determine where they stand on a zero-to-100 energy performance scale. You may have had the audit performed, but not proceeded with any of the recommended upgrades. If this is the case, you may participate in the program, but you must have the audit performed again at a cost of approximately $150.
I again want to stress my concern as to what happens when these programs "kick-start".
Namely, it shakes the sheets of those service organizations to start up energy upgrade programs. For example, window manufacturers, heating contractors, insulation companies, and so are more than eager to take advantage of newly launched programs, and typically advertise how much grant money you can put in your pocket if you use their products and services.
Not surprisingly, I get calls asking me what brand of windows or furnace I would recommend.
My first response is to ask a number of questions, starting with what your home rated on the energy audit report. Did you read the report? Do you understand it? And do you want to do it all or just some of the upgrades?
And finally, do you know how your home works? Remember the last time you saw an advertisement addressing how your home works?
This is where education must start. You may not be aware that your first energy upgrade requirements are insulation, draft proofing and ventilation. Have you seen these items advertised? Probably not, because there has been relatively little grant money attached to these items even though these upgrades will give you the biggest bang for your buck.
My understanding is that since the April 1 relaunch of the LiveSmart BC Efficiency Incentive Program, the number of energy-audit sign-ups has been plentiful.
But lets not start down the wrong road with our upgrades. I have tried many times at the federal and provincial levels to become part of the energy audit service only to be met with the answer that they are not adding any more service providers at this time. My intention is to educate you so you are able to get started off on the right foot with your upgrades.
I want you to get the best value through the grant and tax credit programs. When you receive your energy audit results, please first consider those not so visually appealing improvements over cosmetic upgrades that could use up your available funds but result in poor air quality in your home.
Consider the following sequence:
1. Dealing with your house as a system
2. Insulation, draft-proofing
3. Heating, air-conditioning, and ventilation
4. Windows and doors
5. Other upgrades for Energy Star rated products
This article was published in The Province
newspaper, Sunday May 8th.