Pro­gram tracks home heat loss

Fed­eral grant money will pay for aerial pho­tos that show all home­own­ers where they may be los­ing money via es­caped ther­mal en­ergy

Medicine Hat News - - FRONT PAGE - COLLIN GAL­LANT cgal­lant@medicine­hat­news.com Twit­ter: CollinGal­lant

For those who won­der why heat­ing bills are so high, the an­swer may soon come from above.

Aerial im­ages taken with a ther­mal-sens­ing tech­nol­ogy will be mailed to homes in Medicine Hat in hopes of alert­ing home­own­ers to sub­stan­dard in­su­la­tion.

That will be paid for with a $279,000 fed­eral gov­ern­ment grant aimed at boost­ing en­ergy con­ser­va­tion. Lo­cal of­fi­cials say it will aug­ment work done by the lo­cal pro­gram, HatS­mart.

“It pro­vides ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion to con­sumers, and pro­vides ad­di­tion re­sources to them,” said Jaret Dickie, man­ager of the city’s util­ity busi­ness sup­port of­fice. “It’s a lit­tle more in­for­ma­tion for our cus­tomers.”

HatS­mart al­ready pro­vides home en­ergy au­dits to those who ask for them, but Dickie said the ini­tia­tive will reach ev­ery ratepayer.

“It’s ba­si­cally a fly­over of the city and you can tell where heat loss is hap­pen­ing,” he said. “We’ll pro­vide that in­for­ma­tion on util­ity bills.”

The im­ages will show a spe­cific ad­dress and will high­light ar­eas of heat loss — de­not­ing drafts or poor in­su­la­tion.

The hope is it will give own­ers rea­son to con­sider money spent on any heat that is es­cap­ing their house.

Known as My Heat pro­gram, it is al­ready in place in Calgary and Oko­toks.

It will be paid for by the Knowl­edge Saves Power pro­gram of Nat­u­ral Re­sources Canada.

The re­main­der of the grant will be used by lo­cal staff who will also pro­duce and dis­trib­ute ed­u­ca­tional ma­te­ri­als as part of a cam­paign.

A state­ment by Jim Carr, the fed­eral min­is­ter of nat­u­ral re­sources, said “by help­ing res­i­dents bet­ter un­der­stand their en­ergy us­age, this ini­tia­tive will re­sult in cost sav­ings and help the City of Medicine Hat tran­si­tion to the lower car­bon econ­omy of the fu­ture."

HatS­mart Fund­ing

The city’s re­bate pro­gram to help with the costs of be­com­ing en­ergy ef­fi­cient is close to con­clud­ing for the 2017 pro­gram year, and ad­min­is­tra­tors will soon de­cide whether to re­al­lo­cate un­spent funds to more pop­u­lar pro­grams.

“We’re fully sub­scribed for at­tic in­su­la­tion pro­gram but we have ex­cess fund­ing in other ar­eas,” said Dickie.

Last year city coun­cil al­lo­cated ex­tra cash after con­trac­tors and res­i­dents com­plained that the first-come-first­served pro­gram didn’t ac­count for work late in the year. At the time, coun­cil mem­bers wanted ad­min­is­tra­tors to more clearly re­port to the public cut-off dates and progress.

This year a lo­cal at­tic in­su­la­tion pro­gram was well-re­ceived by lo­cal cus­tomers who cou­pled the lo­cal re­bate with a provin­cial in­su­la­tion grant.

That fund is now spo­ken for by ex­ist­ing ap­pli­ca­tions, but other funds for heat drain re­cov­ery in plumb­ing and so­lar elec­tric pan­els still have a bal­ance.

HatS­mart pro­gram is typ­i­cally ap­proved in two-year blocks, but lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tors split it up last year then ad­justed the 2018 pro­gram to align with the provin­cial re­bate pro­gram that wasn’t re­leased un­til last spring.

The 2018 lo­cal re­bate pro­gram is be­ing de­vel­oped and de­tails should be an­nounced in the next month, said Dickie.

NEWS FILE PHOTO

Ratepay­ers in Medicine Hat will soon get a bird’s-eye view of po­ten­tial money be­ing wasted through heat loss in their homes. The fed­eral-funded pro­gram is called My Heat and is used in Calgary and Oko­toks.

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