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
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."
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.
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.