What types of energy upgrades does your home need?

Row of old Victorian style brick houses with gables

Energy efficiency is a win-win for homeowners: take action on climate change, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, improve your home comfort, lower energy bills, and increase your property’s resale value! 

But what kind of upgrades does your home need? Read on to learn what typical energy efficiency measures you should consider based on the age and type of your home, and what rebates you may be eligible for. 

Century Home

If your home looks like this, it was likely built a hundred years ago or is coming quite close to its centennial birthday. Unless it’s been significantly remodelled it is also safe to assume that it would greatly benefit from a few energy efficiency upgrades.  

Older homes sometimes used construction materials that can make some types of renovations more complicated, for instance stone foundations or brick walls can make insulation challenging. Additions built and added to the building structure later on can also be big source of air leakage in older homes. 

A typical list of upgrades that might be needed in older homes would be:  

  • Air sealing, including caulking, gaskets, and spray foam: Rebates up to $1300 
  • Insulating walls, foundation and attic: Rebates up to $10,000 
  • Upgrading windows and doors: Rebates up to $325 each 

Once these energy efficiency measures are implemented you could explore going deeper by fuel switching for heating and cooling and considering the addition of solar panels. 

  • Energy efficient heating and cooling – making the switch to a heat pump: Rebates up to $6,500 for an air source heat pump and $1300 for a domestic hot water heat pump 
  • Solar panels: Rebates up to $5000 

War Home

If your home looks like this, it was likely built in the 1940s and unless it’s been significantly remodelled it probably would benefit from a few energy efficiency upgrades.  

Homes built in this era may not have any insulation in the walls. When you get around to changing your home’s siding, this can  be a great opportunity to upgrade insulation. These homes typically have air sealing issues on the second floor in the side attics. If you are planning to upgrade insulation in this area, consider comprehensive air sealing to improve the comfort of your home. Ask your insulation installer for more details.  

The typical upgrades your war era home might need are quite similar to those of a century home listed above:  

  • Air sealing, including caulking, gaskets, and spray foam: Rebates up to $1300 
  • Insulating walls, foundation and attic: Rebates up to $10,000 
  • Upgrading windows and doors: Rebates up to $325 each 

Once these energy efficiency measures are implemented you could explore going deeper by fuel switching for heating and cooling and consider the addition of solar panels. 

  • Energy efficient heating and cooling – making the switch to a heat pump: Rebates up to $6,500 for an air source heat pump and $1300 for a domestic hot water heat pump 
  • Solar panels: Rebates up to $5000 

Newer Homes: Townhouses, Semi-detached, Single-Family Homes 

What happens if you live in a newer home? If your home was built in the 2000s you likely already have a good building envelope. This means you will likely have fewer air sealing and insulation needs.  

It’s important to keep in mind the life expectancy of some of the parts of your home.  Your windows for example, can last about 20-25 years, ask your energy advisor about the condition of your windows. Your heating and cooling equipment, like your furnace, typically last about 15-20 years before they’re need to be replaced. Your furnace’s end of life is a great opportunity to reduce your emissions is switching to a heat pump! 

Depending on what comes out of your energy assessment, your newer home might still need some of the following upgrades:  

  • Air sealing, including caulking, gaskets, and spray foam: Rebates up to $1300 
  • Insulating walls, foundation and attic: Rebates up to $10,000 
  • Upgrading windows and doors: Rebates up to $325 each 

These upgrades will likely not be as significant as those needed in older homes, so you will likely be in a good position to explore going deeper by fuel switching for heating and cooling and consider the addition of solar panels. 

  • Energy efficient heating and cooling – making the switch to a heat pump: Rebates up to $6,500 for an air source heat pump and $1300 for a domestic hot water heat pump 
  • Solar panels: Rebates up to $5000 

Home energy assessments 

It’s important to remember that no matter what the age and type of home you live in, the first thing you’ll have to do is get an energy assessment.  

A registered energy advisor will conduct a top-to-bottom assessment of your home, inspecting your home’s insulation, heating and cooling systems and overall home energy use to detect sources of loss. This will help you understand how your home loses energy, and what upgrades you can do to save energy (and money on bills!). Plus, it’s a necessary step to access the rebates and incentives that can help fund your energy upgrades.  

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. You can learn more about how energy assessments work here

Why Invest in an Energy Efficient Home? 

With all of these rebates, as well as zero to low interest loans currently available through the Better Homes and Greener Homes loan programs, there’s never been a better time to invest in your home’s energy efficiency. All retrofits are a good bet, but deep ones are even better. With these incentives and supports, undertaking the deep energy retrofits needed to reduce your home’s energy consumption by 50% or more can have huge long-term gains; your energy bills will be reduced and your home will be more comfortable, healthy and resilient.  

Plus, by reducing your home’s energy consumption, you’re contributing to meeting our region’s climate targets and supporting a resilient local clean energy system – we need to deep retrofit as much as 98% of our local homes by 2040, and deep retrofits massively reduce energy consumption and allow us to switch our remaining energy needs to clean energy.    

Start your journey now – book an energy assessment today! For more information about how each specific rebate and loan program works, and for information and services around planning your retrofit, visit betterhomesottawa.ca .   

If you’re interested in receiving more practical home energy efficiency advice, resources, and tools, sign up for the Better Homes Ottawa quarterly newsletter! 

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