The house that my hubby and I live in is just over 20 years old. It was well built and you wouldn’t think there would be much value to having an energy audit done. Think again.
Since talking to people a lot about things like ecoEnergy rebates, the pending Home Energy Rating Act and about becoming a certified Green Broker, I’ve found that public awareness and sadly interest, is still very low about green real estate initiatives. Almost daily, I find myself telling people about the opportunities available. Even in the general real estate community, few REALTORS® seem to be aware of these types of things.
This week, we had our audit done and thought it may be helpful to follow the process with you.
First, we went online to the Collingwood based, Environment Network website and filled out a request for an audit. Within 24 hours, we got a call and an appointment was arranged within days. The price is $300.00 plus GST however, the government will automatically refund $150.00 to us after the audit is done.
Yesterday, Jeff, the auditor arrived and started by doing a walk about the outside of the house taking notes, measurements and pictures. Then he came inside and toured the house looking at things like our toilets, windows, heating/cooling mechanicals and an attic inspection. All the while, Jeff was most pleasant in explaining to us what he was looking for and he was very patient in answering our questions as we went along.
Next came the really fun part. Jeff set up a contraption at the front door which created an air lock through which he placed a large blower fan. This was connected to a computer and controller device of some sort so that a blower test could be performed. Basically what it does is create a de-pressurized state in the house which causes air leaks to be easily revealed. Jeff explained to us that the combined effect of multiple little air leaks could be the equivalent to having a big hole in your wall directly to the outside.
While the blower was working, we then walked around the entire house and looked for drafts around things like electrical outlets on outside walks, the range hood fan, dryer vents, window and door frames, baseboards and so on. Our energy rated windows performed well but we did find some air leaks around doors that could easily be fixed with new gaskets. We were amazed to feel the air blowing back in through vents – they had never been cleaned outside and were no longer closing properly. Places where vents headed outside or too the attic left some real drafty holes and a quick correction with foam spray should solve those problem areas. Our attic is well insulated but with the passage of time and the recognition of higher standards, Jeff explained to us that we could blow in lots of extra insulation to bring it up to an R50 value for a very reasonable cost.
One of the things we had not thought about was phantom energy. Today, when we turn off appliances, battery chargers, TV’s or computers, the little lights are still drawing currents that add up around the house to several dollars of electrical usage that would be the equivalent to leaving several lights on 24/7 all year round. By simply plugging these into a power bar and shutting that off at night, we could reduce our energy consumption painlessly.
In Collingwood, every drop of water we use is meterered and then sewer fees are tied to that. Jeff pointed out that two of our toilets were 13L tanks instead of the more efficient 6L tanks readily available on the market today. By changing those, we could reduce our water consumption by 7L every single time we flush and that would certainly add up over time. He also suggested we consider investing in or renting one of the new tankless hot water heaters that only heat water as needed rather than 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
In the end, our house rated as being in the top rating category for energy efficiency but yet there is much we can do to improve.
Jeff gave us a kit that explained all of the things we could do. It also included a questionnaire that could assist us further in improving our energy efficiency by looking at newer energy rated appliances, how we use our furnace and ceiling fans, energy efficient lighting choices and so on.
But the best part was reviewing the ecoEnergy grants available to us. I’ll review that in the next post.
Marg Scheben-Edey is a Broker with RE/MAX four seasons realty limited, Brokerage in beautiful Collingwood, ON. With three decades of experience, Marg is a leader in the local real estate marketplace and is ready to help guide both Buyers and Sellers in achieving their real estate goals. Email Marg