Thursday, March 31, 2011

Retrofit - Home Energy Audit

LL says:

So we have a little thing called environmental responsibility here in Canada. The government supports the notion that we are killing the earth by wasting utilities. We, as humans, are wasting away with our incandescent lighting, badly insulated houses heating the neighbourhood as well as the ozone and spending lots of money doing it. What's the point really? So, when we realized that we were eligible for a rebate when we upgrade our furnace, replace our outdated toilets and improve air flow in our house, we jumped at the chance!

First step, apply for the Home Energy Audit. We had a professional come over and test the airflow of the house, see how much leakage there is, laugh at how old our furnace is and show us how much cold air is coming through the outlets. It was shocking really. At the end of the audit, he informed us that our airflow was bad. Duh! We have no insulation in the walls because they are plaster and lath, the 50 year old windows are single pane and the furnace was breaking the 60 year mark.

2 weeks later we received our official energy rating. 48. The highest you can get for a house that is brand new, air tight and fully eco-friendly is 100. And the highest that we can get for a house built 80 years ago is around 84. So, we had lots of improvements to make.

It was clear that the furnace needed replacing. And of course all the windows needed replacing. And, oh ya, all the weather stripping needed replacing. And a bunch of insulation needed to be added. And, oh ya, we just had a few thousand dollars hidden under our bed so there was no problem paying for said repairs, NOT!!

We managed to get deeper into debt and make the main changes, the furnace being the big ticket item. We cheaped out on replacing the windows and did what every East Vancourite does in their their "character" home - put plastic over the windows. It does the trick! Not the prettiest but whatever, it works.

So almost a year after we did all the repairs, we had the follow up visit for the home energy audit and our final score was 64! And apparently that's pretty good for a house of our vintage. Like a good wine she is.

Do I feel happy the we jumped almost 20 points? Well, ya. I'll feel even happier when we blow some insulation into our plaster and lath walls in the near future. Plus, finally replace the single pane windows so we can walk around in shorts and t-shirts in the winter instead of hoodies and long underwear.

And wouldn't ya know it, Retrofitting is hip. Really, it is. We even got interviewed by the Tyee about it! Check out the article HERE.

   "Hey look! Someone needs some reno help!"
So now you can upgrade the energy efficiency in your house! Or have you done so already? Let us know!


  1. I just wrote an essay about our experience, but it got deleted! Short version, we did the program, got a close to 30 point increase, out 1920s 2500 sq/ft two story is now @ 72 which is great for it's age and concrete basement. The upgrades cost about $32000 which included a full rewire of the house to support 200A for a heat pump, new windows for the side of the house with waterfront exposure and blown insulation. The electrical alone should have cost almost as much, yet both my father and I are both semi-retired electricians and did the work ourselves bringing parts and permits to just under $10,000. We ended up with about $9500 from the program in the end, the rest being financed by reassessing the house after a major upgrade to the flooring the year previous which raised the houses value over $30,000 (costing us $8000 to do). I loved the whole experience, the best part was bringing our monthly heating bills from $650 a month twelve months a year to less than $200 for the whole winter. I think it's a shame that the program is now closed to applicants, and wish that the City of Esquimalt or the CRD would launch a similar program to Mayor Gregors in Vancouver. I feel lucky that I got to participate while LiveSmart existed and will be researching which parties are campaining on resurecting the program in our up coming election.

  2. Wow - that was a big rebate! Nice job! And yeah, we would of saved more money if we didn't have to hire an electrician to rewire the whole house, including the upgrade to 200A. I bet you have hot tub! Anyways, its totally interesting, the whole process. Seeing how much the house leaks and seeing how many things are just done wrong.

  3. A magnificent blog. home energy audits is indeed very reliable. Keep it up. Great job.

  4. You and I share the same principles. In making the houses and homes more energy efficient, this translates to economic viability.