Thursday, July 28, 2011

Step 1 - The Energy Audit

Natural Resources Canada finally got the renewed ecoENERGY Retrofit program up and running this month so now the clock is ticking. This time around we had to REGISTER FOR THE PROGRAM FIRST before even scheduling our energy audit. We were happy that Carson Dunlop, our chosen energy audit firm was able to fit us in very quickly so we had our audit done this week. Now we have to make a plan, get the work done, get a post-retrofit audit and get the paperwork in by MARCH 31, 2012! I don't normally curse, but WTF!?

Because there could be no exposed walls at the time of the first energy audit, we could not start removing plaster/drywall or really start any work, (which we hadn't), until now. That limitation makes for a very tight design/build schedule for those of us who had planned to do some major work. As it happens, we have decided to scale down our reno plans a little so we will be able to prioritize a couple of areas of the house and the energy efficiency upgrades.

Of course, if you are only looking to do energy efficiency upgrades like putting in a more efficient furnace or adding some attic insulation or air sealing your windows/doors, then you should have plenty of time. But I still wouldn't leave it to the last minute. I spoke to a few energy audit companies before we went with ours and they all said they have been getting a lot of calls and are already talking about how if you leave booking your post-retrofit audit too late they might not be able to fit you in before the deadline.

This could be Ontario homeowners last chance for many years (or ever!) to do energy efficiency upgrades to our homes and get some money back for them. If you are living on a very restricted income it is hard to put out the extra money required to do significant upgrades to insulation and heating/cooling systems in order to lower the cost of your homes' energy expenses, so take advantage of these grants now, if you can, because the price of energy is only going up.

There seems to be a lot of evidence that whether or not Tim Hudak and the Progressive Conservatives get elected and scrap any new investment in green energy technology the price of electricity and gas is going up. The Globe & Mail printed a story by Richard Blackwell earlier this month on July 6 with the title Impact of renewables on higher power costs minimal, report says which sums up up the article nicely. Just two days ago Kate Heartfield had a post on the Ottawa Citizen Blog, The price of electricity in Ontario, mentioning their editorial board's chat with Pierre Guimond, president of The Canadian Electricity Association in which he points out that we have a big costly problem facing us in the form of deteriorating infrastructure. As it turns out this is a Canada wide problem that is going to require $293.8 billion in investment between 2010 and 2030 according to The Conference Board of Canada's report Canada's Electricity Infrastructure: Building a Case for Investment released on April 7 of this year.

And considering the downward pressure on wages for so many people in this province, the only way we consumers can really save on energy costs is to reduce our energy use as much as reasonably possible.

So.......long weekend reading: the introductory pamphlets and booklets that come in NRCan's ecoENERGY package delivered by the energy auditor, including materials from Natural Resources Canada and Canada Mortgage and Housing.

You can also access the program through the ecoACTION website. Not sure why the government set up another website separate from the NRCan one, but there you go.