With up to $10,000 available through the HER+ program and various other financing streams on offer, there has never been a better time to invest in home energy efficiency upgrades.
Here are 5 ways to make the most of this opportunity to improve your home and cut your carbon emissions.
1. Understand the basics.
The vast majority of homes in Canada were not built with energy efficiency in mind. In fact, the energy used to heat and cool buildings produces almost half of Ottawa’s greenhouse gas emissions. Homes that are not energy efficient are bad for climate change and they are less comfortable to live in because they can’t regulate temperature as well as efficient buildings. They also have more expensive energy bills. No matter what we do to try and stop climate change, it has already started to impact our local weather patterns and these effects will become more and more noticeable in the years ahead (to learn more about what lies ahead read this).
But how are you to know how energy efficient your home is? If your home was built more than 20 years ago, chances are you will benefit enormously from an energy retrofit. According to a 2019 study published by the City of Ottawa, a building constructed in 2017 is approximately 35% more efficient than a building built in 1997.
The only way to know for sure what measures your home needs is to have a home energy assessment.
2. Get a home energy assessment.
Whether you are considering upgrading the efficiency of your home, looking to save money on bills, pining for a rebate on a heat pump, or planning a bigger renovation that might as well also include a few energy efficiency measures, a home energy assessment is always the first step. And as long as you complete at least one of the upgrades recommended in your home energy assessment (and a follow-up assessment to ensure the work you did resulted in energy savings) you will receive up to $600 to cover the cost of the assessments.
To find out what service organizations operate in your postcode, visit the HER+ website, or reach out to EnviroCentre. EnviroCentre offers home energy assessments across the Ottawa region and beyond. To learn more about what a home energy assessment involves read this.
3. Make a plan.
Your Energy Advisor will provide you with a report that includes recommended measures to increase the efficiency of your home. Now, it’s time for you to choose what you want to do.
For an overview of what is covered by the HER+ rebates, click here. For more detailed information, please refer to the HER+ website as there are a couple of factors that will determine your eligibility for the different rebates available.
Keep in mind that if you are interested in exploring a deeper energy retrofit than what is covered by the HER+ program, there are low-cost loans available through the Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program (up to $125,000) and zero-interest loans through the Greener Homes Loan Program (up to $40,000). If you’d like advice on how to make the best use of the available resources, reach out to our dedicated customer care team – call 1-877-580-2582 or send us an email.
4. Turn your plan into action.
Your home energy report is a useful tool for understanding how your home uses (and loses!) energy. It contains a lot of really great information, but some folks might find the level of detail overwhelming. Don’t panic, you don’t need to be a building scientist to understand the basic principles that will allow you to plan your energy upgrades.
Building envelope: Energy efficiency starts with your home “envelope”, essentially everything on the outside that keeps the heat (or cool) in. This is the most logical place to start, as it will stop your home from leaking energy. The kinds of upgrades this requires include air sealing, insulating walls and attics, and upgrading entries (windows, doors). Rebates for all of these are included in the HER+ rebate program.
Heating and cooling: Once your building envelope is sealed and insulated, it makes sense to look at your mechanical systems. This includes your furnace, boiler, baseboard heaters, water heaters and air conditioners – all the things that heat and cool your home. The kinds of upgrades you will be looking at will include replacing your equipment with energy-efficient devices, or if you can, switching to electrical heating and cooling systems like ground and air source heat pumps.
Renewables: The final step to look at is switching to renewable energy. Here are some types of renewable energy that could be a good fit for your home:
- Solar PV – generally speaking, solar panels are the best source of renewable energy for Ottawa homes. You will need a sunny roof or land space, and advice from a qualified technician.
- Geothermal – Geothermal energy is also a realistic option for Ottawa homeowners. A geothermal HVAC system can provide a house with heating, cooling and even hot water, and thanks to its high heating efficiency potential, a geothermal HVAC system can help you reduce your energy consumption and save money.
- Battery Back-up – if you are looking to store some of the renewable energy you generate for future use, or for energy back-up in the event of an emergency or outage, you can install a home battery backup. There are several options on the market that can help your household get through those dark and stormy nights.
The HER+ rebates won’t cover the full cost of any of these, but they will cover a significant portion.
5. Don’t forget to book your follow-up assessment!
All rebate and loan programs require a follow-up assessment to ensure that the work carried out resulted in energy savings. For more information on how each specific program works, please visit betterhomesottawa.ca. HER+ will cover up to $600 towards the cost of the home energy assessments.