In 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.
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