Our home is an ICF (insulated concrete foundation) home and what that means is that unlike traditional wood framed homes, our exterior walls are all concrete wrapped in foam insulation. Generally, this results in an overall more efficient home in terms of heating because it's a "tight" unit with little opportunity for heat to escape. This was a huge selling point for us with the purchase of this home but we knew we still wanted to see where we can improve on efficiency before the winter arrives.
We had a Home Energy Assessment done recently by one of Efficiency Nova Scotia's Certified Energy Advisors (CEA) that came to our home and assessed it from attic to basement. If your home is electrically-heated like ours, you can get a Home Energy Assessment done for only $99, and in my opinion the potential energy savings is well worth it.
The CEA came to our home and started off by taking measurements and photos of the exterior walls. He then came inside and assessed every nook and cranny and measured every window we had. The next step was to set up a device that covered our front door to make an air-tight seal so that the attached fan could decompress the air that was currently in our home. By sucking out enough air inside of our home to make a low pressure system, it allows us to see where air from the outside is getting in. With the fan still going, Jon and I toured the house with the CEA and noted where we could feel air getting in. All of our windows passed the test aside from the port hole in our upstairs guest room. It wasn't a huge amount getting in and the assessor said that the cost of taking out the window and resealing it wouldn't be worth it in terms of energy savings. The only other areas that the air was getting in were in the basement around the holes that were drilled through the concrete for wiring or piping. Those will be easy fixes with some caulking from the store. The majority of our discussion after our walk through was what can we do in the future to achieve even better home efficiency. Since our basement is unfinished we could benefit from a centrally installed ducted heat pump that would also give us the benefit of an air conditioner in the warmer months. Our roof will probably need to be redone in about five years and adding solar panels will allow us to produce energy too.
When you get your assessment report back from the CEA it will include a rating of how efficient your home is and your home will be rated with Natural Resources Canada. The report will outline recommendations on how to improve your rating (i.e. How to make your home more efficient) and if you complete any or all of the recommendations within 12 months the CEA will come back out to do another assessment and give your home a new rating. Depending on what recommendations you complete (Efficiency Nova Scotia offering financing options too) and how much better your rating is you would be qualified for rebates up to $5000. So, the more you do, the more you save!
Here are some easy tips to increase the efficiency of your home and save you some money:
1 Change all of your manual thermostats to programmable thermostats. Set your
thermostats to a lower temperature at night, when you are away, or in areas of your home that you don't use regularly.
2 Regularly check for air leakage around window seals, outlets holes and baseboards and reseal.
3 Install energy efficient products in your home. Efficiency Nova Scotia offers a service where a qualified personnel will come to your home and install LED lighting, water-saving shower heads, power strips for your entertainment center and insulating wraps for your electric hot water tank and hot water pipes for FREE!!! This service is also available to individuals in an apartment or condo as well!
4 Retire your old fridges and freezers because they can use more electricity than any other appliance in your home. Efficiency Nova Scotia will come pick up your working fridge or freezer and pay you $30. You will also get an extra $10 of you add on a mini fridge or an air conditioner!
5 Set your appliances (washer/dryer and dish washer) to eco-mode when you can so you use less water and energy on a daily basis.
Efficiency Nova Scotia's HomeWarming program offers no-charge energy assessments and home upgrades to income-qualified homeowners and you can apply online, via email, or a toll-free call. How amazing is that? I can already think of a handful of people who would be so grateful for this opportunity.
I'm certainly eager to get my official report back and will be sure to update you guys!
This post was sponsored by Efficiency Nova Scotia but all opinion expressed are solely my own. Thank you for supporting the companies and brands that support my blog.