Category Archives: Home Renovations

Home Energy Savings Rebate Programs

By: GenXinvestor

Home Energy SavingsIn this post I discuss the Home Energy Savings Rebate Program.  Upgrading our homes to be more energy efficient can save us money as well as help reduce our carbon footprint.  If you follow this blog regularly you’ll know that, after spending a freezing cold Canadian winter in our new home, I’ve been looking to do some much needed upgrades to boost our comfort level and our energy savings.  Our gas and hydro bills were regularly around the $300 mark this winter so I definitely wanted to take care of that and, as it turns out, much of the upgrades that I want to do fall under the Home Energy Savings Rebate Program that will save me some money on work that I’d have to do anyways.

The Home Energy Savings Rebate Program

Every province has a different home energy savings rebate program so you can check out what your province offers through the Natural Resources Canada website.  In Ontario the Home Energy Savings Rebate Program is offered by our gas utility.  They cover $500 for an energy audit and will give a rebate of up to $2,000 for a variety of upgrades ranging from furnaces and heat pumps to insulation and windows.  The more you do, the more you’ll get back – up to a maximum of $2,500 including the energy audit.

The program is designed to make older homes more energy efficient.  While my home is not super old, it is nowhere near as energy efficient as a newly built home.

For example, we currently have drafty old wooden windows – and the seals are gone on nearly all of them.  Our furnace is original to the home (25 yrs old) and is not operating efficiently at all. It turns on, runs for a minute or so and then shuts down.  Consequently warm air never reaches the second story.

Also, from the look of it, the A/C unit is also quite old so I doubt very much that we’ll be getting any cool air at all on the upper level this summer.  Finally, the attic insulation ranges from an R-10 in some areas to an R-25 in others.

I’ve spent the past few weeks researching everything from how to boost the energy efficiency of our home to provincial rebate programs as well as the quality of different products on the market.  I’ve also taken the time to get quotes from a variety of companies to get the best possible product at the best possible price.  If you are considering doing any of these upgrades my advice is to get as many competitive quotes as you can and do your research to make sure that you’re getting exactly what you need for your home – nothing more and nothing less.

My Plan For Energy Efficient Upgrades

Initially, I wrote a post about my plan that involved replacing a few windows at the front of my house and upgrade the attic insulation to an R-60.  To my mind, that work was barely worth the effort to get an energy audit to get a couple hundred bucks in rebates so I decided not to even bother with one.

Well things have changed.  I decided to go big and do all of the upgrades at once rather than stagger them over a few years so that I could take advantage of the energy rebate program. First, I booked an energy audit before proceeding with any of the upgrades.  The auditor gave me a list of upgrades that I could do and gave me a rough idea of what I could expect in terms of rebates.  There were no surprises on the list, he mentioned upgrading the furnace and attic insulation as the two big ones in terms of boosting my energy savings.  But I would also qualify to get $40 per rough opening for windows and doors.  Since I need to replace all of my windows anyways, I figured this was a no-brainer.

So rather than following a multi-year approach to window replacement I’ve decided to go ahead and do them all this year.  This saves me the pain of having to have window installers come back year after year and I got an excellent deal for doing them all at once.  In terms of payback time, I figure the windows will add some value to the home and will be a lot more energy efficient than the old ones, but there won’t likely be a huge payback for this upgrade.  This is why I would not recommend replacing windows to anyone unless it is absolutely necessary (as was the case with mine).  I just don’t see us recouping the huge expense in energy savings.

I also upgraded my attic insulation to an R-60 with blown cellulose; which is supposed to be better than fiberglass insulation because it compacts less.  Already there’s a noticeable difference upstairs so I’m confident that this upgrade will keep us warm in winter and cool in summer.  The expected payback for this upgrade is around 3.5 years.

Finally, I’ve decided to replace and upgrade our furnace and A/C.  I went with a high efficiency modulating furnace for a more even heat throughout our home.  This past winter I noticed that it was freezing in the basement and upper level but warm on the main level.  The new furnace will heat all 3 levels more evenly, which will no doubt boost our comfort level.  The expected payback for this upgrade will be somewhere around 10 years.

Final Thoughts on the Home Energy Savings Rebate Program

The total cost for all of this is about $39,500 and through the Home Energy Savings Rebate Program I can expect to receive about $2,000 back – which is a 5% savings.  Again, as I mentioned earlier, if you’re in the market to do these kinds of upgrades, energy rebate programs can help cover some of the costs involved and save you money on your hydro and gas bills for many years to come.  If money is tight and you’re looking to do just one thing to boost the energy efficiency of your home I would recommend the attic insulation which accounts for about 40% of heat loss in the winter and was the cheapest upgrade to make.

Photo Credit: Photo by hywards/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Home Renovations That Can Save You Money

By: GenXinvestor

Home Renovations that save you moneyWe’ve been in our new home for 3 months now and having made it through Winter 2015 I realize that we need to do some renovations to save on heating costs.  Here are some home renovations that can save you money.

I’ve been busy over the past few weeks with getting quotes from insulation and window companies.  I’ve also been doing some research into how to get the most bang for your buck with these kinds of home expenses.

From what I can tell, you get the most bang for your buck with insulation.  My current attic insulation is somewhere between R-12 and R-20. The plan is to increase this to R-60.  That is above current code (R-50) and will likely be all we’ll ever need.  As this is our final home, I want to do things right so that we won’t have to revisit this in a few years.

The plan will be to use blown cellulose to increase the attic insulation and with some additional work to improve venting the final bill will be $1800.  From what I can tell from my research, this renovation will save us somewhere between 15-20% of our monthly heating and cooling costs. If that is in fact true, then this reno will pay for itself in about 3 years.

Here is a useful insulation calculator that I found if you want to run your own calculations.

As for the windows, if we replace everything (windows and doors) the total cost will be $32,000! Our home is a 2 storey detached with lots of windows.  Now the company that we’ll most likely go with is not the cheapest of the bunch but they do offer a quality window guaranteed for life. That lifetime guarantee is not pro-rated either, so if a seal goes on a window, they will replace the window and we’ll only have to pay installation fee, not the cost of the window itself.

Since we plan to be in our home forever, this is an update that will endure as long as we live there.  But the return is nowhere near as good as with the attic insulation.  When I researched this, a lot of what I found focused on the aesthetics of new windows and doors and how they might increase the re-sale value of the home, rather than on the practical (measurable) savings in terms of heating and cooling costs.  What I did find suggested that I could save between 10 and 20% of heating and cooling costs.  That amount of savings is a pittance compared to the costs of buying all new windows and doors.

Since we plan to live there forever, we don’t really care about increasing re-sale value.  So rather than replace all the windows and doors on our house all at once, we’ll likely do this in stages over the next few years (unless the company offers us a deal that we can’t refuse!).

In our finished basement area in particular I think we’ll be able to get the most savings from new windows.  Our basement has 3 windows that need replacing at a cost of about $1500.  I checked with an infrared gun and found that the area around the windows was approximately 10-20 degrees f cooler than the wall temperature.  So I think that replacing those windows and insulating around them will result in a significant reduction in heat loss and save us money on heating costs as well as making our basement more comfortable in the winter.

Photo credit: Photo by hywards