Energy Efficiency

We’ve had such a hard winter that there’s no need to promote energy-efficiency – many homeowners are getting the message loud and clear every time they open their latest skyrocketing heating bill.

“We’ve had a very cold winter, and the price of all fuels has gone up,” says Donald Dodge, Program Manager of Marketing Insights and Planning with Efficiency Nova Scotia. “The combination of those two factors has been such a great driver for people to get serious about the efficiency of their home.”

Dodge says Efficiency Nova Scotia is especially focused on the upgrade market, because they want to help people with existing homes make their structures as energy-efficient as possible.

“There are incentives, rebates, and zero-interest loans available through us, to help them to do those extra things that will ensure they’re getting absolutely the best bang for their buck,” says Dodge.

For their Home Energy Assessment program, a Certified Energy Advisor comes into the home to do a full assessment of the building and the building’s envelope – which includes a full blower test.

“The blower test is the most critical part, because it gives homeowners the opportunity to know exactly where they’re losing heat, and where the cold air is coming in,” says Dodge. “It’s a simple thing to fix, but it’s hard to pinpoint without the test.”

To help cover the cost of completed upgrades, Dodge says homeowners with electric heat can receive up to $3,000 in incentives, and those with oil heat can receive up to $1,500.

Fixing something that’s already built takes some time and energy, but Dodge says doing things properly from the start is much more straightforward.

“With our New Home Construction program, we’re able to help the homeowner do it right the first time,” says Dodge.

To take part in the New Home Construction program, homeowners need to submit their application within 30 days of registering their building permit. From there, the plans are assessed by energy experts to determine what could be tweaked or added to make the home as energy-efficient as possible. Then it’s up to the homeowner to take some – or all – of those recommendations to heart.

If you’re building, Dodge says the ideal situation is to have your plans evaluated and then bring them to the Real Home Show – where industry experts are happy to discuss them with you.

“You can go up the vendors and say ‘I’m looking for triple-glazed windows on the north side of my home,’ or ask someone else about their recommendations for double-stud walls,” says Dodge. “The beauty of the show is that they’re all there in one place, ready to talk.”

For homeowners at the very beginning of the process, Dodge encourages them to chat with Efficiency Nova Scotia first.

“You may get 8-10 different ideas from other booths, but we’re here to help. We’re not trying to sell you anything,” says Dodge. “We’ll have lots of experts in our booth throughout the show, and we can get you started before you head off to chat with different builders.”

What you’ll find at the Show

There will be great information on your energy efficiency needs at the Real Home Show – insulation tips, upgrade suggestions, heating recommendations and the professionals who can answer your questions.

In the Nova Scotia Home Builders’ Association booth you will be able to see a computerized comparison of 10 homes all ranging in size and style from a starter home to large custom homes and learn about the energy models showing the performance at building code requirement stage and what certain upgrades can mean to the overall energy efficiency of the home. Included in this will be a mortgage calculator so you can see what the upgrades will mean in terms of value and the impact the costs will have on your mortgage.

Drop in to the booth, bring your questions and find out how you can make your new home as energy efficient as possible.

Heather Laura Clarke

Heather Laura Clarke

Heather Laura Clarke is a freelance journalist whose work regularly appears in many Atlantic Canadian newspapers and magazines, including The Chronicle Herald, Metro, Hub Now, Business Voice, Dugger's, Progress, East Coast Living, Bedford Magazine, and Southender Magazine. She also has several corporate clients.