Your house could be polluting the air more than you think, and it could be costing you a lot of money.
If you can’t figure out why your energy bills are through the roof, your home could be wasting power and emitting more greenhouse gases than normal, and it could be time for a home energy audit. It’s a test that evaluates the energy-efficiency of your home and details improvements you can make that could potentially reduce your home’s GHG output and save you money in the process.
Jamie Shipley, senior research consultant for the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) says owners of houses 40 years old and up should seriously consider getting a home energy audit, which will pinpoint specific areas leaking the most power.
“If you’re concerned about lowering the operating cost of your home or saving energy, the first thing your need to know is where you’re losing the most energy so you can focus your budget to the areas where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. An energy audit will pinpoint the best areas to attack your house,” he said.
The areas commonly susceptible to leakage, Shipley notes, are basements and wall outlets such as doors and windows. Sometimes these areas can have tiny tears in the walls, ceilings and floors that are innocent enough, but put together could make hole as big as 1.5 square feet in your house that spews energy you could otherwise use. The website for National Clean Air Day (cleanairday.com) says using caulking and weather stripping to seal these holes can save you up to 20 per cent on your energy bill.
Some provinces are even willing to lend a helping hand: Ontario, for example, runs a program that subsidizes 50 per cent of the cost of an energy audit, up to a maximum of $150 — you don’t even have to carry out the advised retrofits on your house to collect the rebate.
Homebuyers who are new to the market are also becoming more concerned with how energy efficient a house is, Shipley notes, adding that while curb appeal still trumps all, energy bills can make or break a deal nowadays.
“They always ask, or should ask, for a copy of the energy bills for that house, and that becomes part of the equation of whether they feel that house is one they want to buy, that’s really a relationship of how energy efficient that home is,” Shipley said.
“If Home A’s energy bills are $1,000 per year cheaper than Home B, then that’s the one I’m probably going to buy.”
>> For more information, visit the Office of Energy Efficiency’s website at oee.nrcan.gc.ca
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