Earth area

   

 visit the current theme

 

Franšais

     

Energy Grants
for Homeowners


EnerGuide
Reproduced from Canadian Homes and Cottages Magazine, 
Issue 3, 2004, with permission
June 2004

Energy efficiency improvements can help reduce your heating bills by 20 to 30 per cent. That's like getting energy for free in today's marketplace. Energy efficiency improvements can be incorporated into almost any renovation work you're doing, from upgrading your basement rec room to (photo: EnerGuide)re-siding your home.

Knowing what to do is the challenge. Every house is different.  That's where the independent expertise of EnerGuide for Houses* advisors comes in. EnerGuide for Houses advisors help you how to improve the way your home uses energy and stop waste. They take the time to understand what you want to do and help find the source of any energy problems. They give you a plan and you decide what to do. The more of the recommended retrofits you do, the greater your savings.

Grants for homes with improved EnerGuide ratings

Since August 2003, the government has been giving grants to homeowners who've acted on EnerGuide advice. This grant program,
called the EnerGuide for Houses Retrofit Initiative (EGHRI) has been put in place until March 2007. EnerGuide for Houses encourages homeowners to improve their homes' energy efficiency, because more efficient homes use less energy from fossil
fuels and produce less of the greenhouses gases that contribute to climate change.

The amount of the grant is calculated based on the difference between the EnerGuide rating you have before you perform energy upgrades, and the EnerGuide rating you receive after the upgrades. It's important to get an EnerGuide evaluation before you
start the work to be eligible. Most homes qualify, but owners of older homes built before 1980 have the greatest potential for
improvement. Read NRCan's Eligibility Criteria, online at http://energuideforhouses.gc.ca/grant for all the details. To find a qualified advisor in your area, go to Natural Resources Canada's website at
http://energuideforhouses.gc.ca/agent, or call their toll-free line at 1-800-387-2000.

What kinds of work qualify? Improvements to the structure and most fixed equipment (furnace, hot water tank) that reduce the
energy use in the home contribute toward an improved rating. The EnerGuide evaluation recommendations identify work that will
lead to an improved rating. It's not how much you spend, but how much your rating improves, that determines the size of your grant.

Get Rid of Wasteful Leaks

Most of us don't realize just how leaky an older home is. Those air leaks are usually at the "header space" (where the exterior
walls meet the top of the foundation); in spots where pipes enter and leave the house; around baseboards, switches and wall sockets,
and lighting fixtures; and around windows and doors.

Typically between 80 per cent and 100 per cent of EnerGuide customers choose to do some form or professional air sealing,
because professional air sealing is often the cheapest energy efficiency measure people can undertake.

Efficient houses are both airtight and properly ventilated, and that's what you want to aim for in your home. EnerGuide customers
learn about the value of airtight homes and ventilation during their evaluation. The blower door test, which is a part of the service, helps people see just how wasteful their home is, and they learn what to do about it.

(photo: EnerGuide)Upgrade the Heating System

Today's Energy Star qualified furnaces are much more energy efficient that older models. Replacing an old "mid efficiency" gas furnace with an Energy Star qualified gas furnace can reduce your energy use by as much as 25 per cent. The extra investment you'd make to buy a more efficient model is typically paid off in energy savings within the first few years of the average life of a furnace.

Improve Insulation Levels

Insulation is often easy to upgrade and it's not expensive. Add insulation under any new siding that's installed. If you're renovating, insulate any exterior walls that are opened up. Every little bit helps. Adding insulation to exterior wall cavities is often reasonably easy in older homes through wall openings in the attic. Small holes must be made to fill spaces under windows, but they are simple for most homeowners to repair. While the insulation contractors are in the attic, add any vents that may be required for proper airflow, and top-up attic insulation.

(photo: EnerGuide)If you're renovating your basement, waterproof and insulate the basement walls and floor.

Always speak to a specialist about what will work for your home. Take special care when insulating to make sure the renovations won't cause moisture problems or mould growth.

Replace Windows If They're Deteriorating

Replacing older deteriorating windows is a common upgrade that adds value to your home. If this is in your plans, it's worth
considering purchasing the most energy-efficient windows you can find. Look for Energy Star qualified windows. Energy efficient windows are typically double (and sometimes triple) glazed, with the panes of glass separated by "warm edge spacer" bars and the gap between them filled with an inert gas, usually argon. They'll also have a "low-e" coating on the glass.

(photo: EnerGuide)Changing your windows usually doesn't result in a large rating improvement or a large grant. Recent case studies of houses in the Prairies have shown that the typical EnerGuide for Houses rating improvement is three points for an average 1960s house and four points for an average 1970s house. This data is consistent across Canada. The total grants in these cases
ranged from $170 to $210.

The real value of replacing older windows with highly energy-efficient ones is the considerably improved comfort you'll notice when sitting beside the window. This is because their energy efficient features create a "warmer" surface. They're also often easier to maintain. Always ensure that replacement windows are
properly installed to ensure minimum air leakage. For information about installation, visit the Siding and Window Dealers of
Canada's website at http://www.sawdac.com/consumer_info.htm.

Applying for a Grant

No matter what you decide to do, if you want to be eligible for an energy efficiency improvement grant, you must call in an
EnerGuide for Houses advisor and get a pre-retrofit evaluation before you do the work and after it's completed. To apply for the grant, you must call in the advisor a second time to record and evaluate the improvements. During that second visit, the advisor will prepare your application form and advise you of your estimated grant amount. Your cheque will be sent to your home within 90 days.

* EnerGuide for Houses is an official trademark of Natural Resources Canada.
Used with permission.