Seasons change and the lush greens turn to bold reds, bright oranges, and yellows. You admire the beauty from inside your home. A cool gentle breeze caresses by and you go to close the window, but it’s shut and locked. You reach for a blanket, crank up the thermostat, and hear the ominous voice, “winter’s coming”.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Home Energy Retrofits for your ageing home are available and the government will help you pay for it. Saving money by investing in your largest asset is a win-win situation.
Small energy upgrades – LED bulbs, ceiling fans, smart thermostats, smart power bars are great and easy to do. Let’s talk about some of the bigger, contracted, and rebate qualifying options to conserve energy in your home.
Before you begin, you need to schedule a home energy audit, to qualify for the rebates. A home energy auditor will take about 2 hours to walk around your home and check everything from the attic to the basement. It’s a good idea to walk with them, ask questions, and understand results.
Your building envelope
The building envelope is how well the interior of your home is protected from the exterior environment. The tighter the envelope, the more money you save. In fact, upgrading some key elements can put anywhere from 5% to 30% of money spent on utilities back into your wallet.
On the exterior of your house, look for gaps in the masonry or loose siding. Redoing the tuck pointing of the brick and repairing loose siding will create a tighter seal.
All windows have aluminum capping around them to minimize the gap between it and the exterior wall. Between the capping and the wall, there should also be caulking creating the tight seal. Exterior caulking should be checked yearly and reapplied every 5 years to keep the cold air out.
Windows should be replaced every 15-20 years. New windows are far superior and use argon filled triple pane glass to create a better energy rating (ER). In fact, adding one additional pane of glass with argon gas improves the ER by 20%.
Feel around your exterior doors for gaps and replace weather stripping and door sweeps as necessary.
Save-on Energy will give you up to $80 per window and up to $150 for better air sealing for energy efficient upgrades to your home until the end of October.
A warm blanket for your house
Do your interior walls feel cold in winter? If so, poor insulation is the culprit. Tearing down drywall to apply spray foam insulation between the studs tightens your envelope further. The foam expands to fill every gap and crevice.
Poor attic insulation could explain why upstairs is cold when downstairs is hot. Save-on Energy will give you up to $1250 for insulation installation, $1750 if done on basement walls, and up to $500 on attic insulation.
An insulated house is a more efficient house and you will save money on heating.
Mechanical upgrades for the basement
If your basement is unfinished it’s easy for an HVAC professional to run new ductwork making sure each joint is sealed tight with tape. You won’t be leaking hot air into ceilings and walls. The heat only goes where you’ve placed the vents reducing the time your furnace is running.
You should check your furnace filter every 4 months. Your furnace doesn’t just blow air; It sucks in air to read the temperature and communicates the data to your thermostat. When it takes in air, it brings dirt with it clogging your filter. A clogged filter means your furnace is working harder to heat and costs you money.
Ontario’s Home Energy Conservation Incentive Program can provide up to $500 for a new energy star rated hot water tank. A hot water tank is like a kettle. Every time the kettle cools down, you heat it up again for a hot drink. If your hot water tank is not energy star rated, you’re burning fuel, and money, to heat it again.
You may want to consider a tankless hot water system, though. Tankless saves on space and because it’s hot water on demand, there’s no reserve, which may save you money on your next home insurance quote due to the lower risk of flood.
Even with all the rebates, how does one afford all these big upgrades to your home? It’s an excellent opportunity to look at a home equity line of credit (HELOC). Why not borrow from your home to improve its quality and save you money in the long run.
Whether you’re buttoning up, layering on, or buying new gear – home energy retrofits are smart home investments. It’s an upgrade to your sizeable asset – increasing its value and it keeps the inside environment comfortable and under control. Save some money when winter comes around, put it into a high interest savings account and escape winter next time with a tropical vacation.