Worth the energy
IF you could do a renovation on your home that cost you a fraction of what it’s worth, and that continued to save you money as long as you owned your home, wouldn’t you do it? That’s what you can get with the eco-ENERGY retrofit program.
This program is offered through the federal government, which has increased the amount of grant money for energy-efficient renovation retrofits. There’s an extra $300 million being invested over the next two years. Most provinces — and now some even local governments — are stepping up as well to match the available money, dollar for dollar. For example, you can get up to $5,000 in federal and up to $5,000 in provincial rebates on work you’ve had done to improve the energy efficiency of your home.
The point of the eco-ENERGY retrofit grant is to get homeowners to do renovations that effectively reduce greenhouse gases and air pollution. It’s a great way to improve the energy efficiency of your home, reduce consumption and the impact on the environment. So you save money and reduce your carbon footprint.
The money is non-taxable and is available for upgrades on heating systems, ventilation, air conditioning, windows, doors and even toilet upgrades. You can replace old inefficient furnace/AC or water heaters; improve insulation so your house isn’t leaking heat; replace drafty windows and doors.
To take advantage of it, you need to first have an energy audit or evaluation of your home, by a certified auditor. The energy audit will show you where your home is losing energy through air leakage, drafts and areas of heat loss and where you can improve its performance. (**If you don’t have an energy audit BEFORE you do the upgrade, you will not qualify for the rebate.)
The energy auditor uses the blower door test to measure the rate of air leakage in your home. An energy-efficient home will have very little air leakage. To do the test, all windows and doors are closed and into one of the exterior doors an adjustable panel is fitted with a fan. The fan is turned on, drawing air out, and the interior house pressure is reduced. This allows exterior air to leak in through unsealed openings or cracks. The rate of that flow, or air infiltration, is measured and those calculations tell what your home’s energy efficiency rating is.
Auditors are able to locate drafts and they’ll note the locations of leaks and give that information to the homeowner in the energy audit. Now the homeowner knows what they need to fix, and where the leaks are so they can do the repairs and upgrades.
After your initial audit, you’ll get an evaluation report and a rating. Then, you can think about what kind of energy upgrades you want to do, and what you can afford.
Then, after you’ve had the work done, you have to make sure you get another evaluation to verify you’ve made the necessary improvements. This will prove you have a higher rating and the improvements you made have increased the energy efficiency of your home.
After your first audit, you have 18 months of complete some or all of the work, then book your postretrofit audit. Then, you can apply to your provincial and federal — and in some cases, municipal — governments for the rebate.
You must make sure the work and the post-retrofit evaluation is done before the program ends (March 31, 2011). And of course, keep all proof of work done (work orders, receipts). You need documentation. The work will need to be verified during the final energy audit.
You can do simple jobs to take advantage of the rebate; it doesn’t need to be very complicated. Replace a toilet or your furnace. Obviously, upgrading your insulation is a bigger job as it involves tearing out drywall and plaster and replacing it. Windows are a bigger job than doors since you have more of them.
Some fixes are cheap, like caulking your windows. Some will cost a lot more, like buying new EnergyStar appliances or replacing your windows with EnergyStar rated ones. But everything you do to improve the energy efficiency of your home will help.
— Canwest News Service