Saturday, October 25, 2008

Home Heat Home

Last week’s announced increase in hydro rates is only the latest hit on the energy bill for Ontario residents. With the cost of natural gas and home heating oil also on the rise, conserving energy in the home has long since left the realm of environmental responsibility. Finding affordable ways to cut home heating and energy costs has become a critical issue with Old Man Winter only weeks away.

Before you start chopping up the furniture for firewood, The Ontario Home Energy Audit (OHEA) Program is here to the rescue. The program, which offers up to $ 10,000 in rebates, begins with a home energy audit.

Using the OHEA website ( enter the first three digits of your postal code to locate qualified and licensed auditors in your area. It’s recommended that you get quotes from several available companies before scheduling your Home Energy Audit. Depending on where you live, it usually takes a couple of weeks to schedule an audit once you’ve decided on a service provider.

The initial audit, which costs somewhere in the vicinity of $ 300, identifies how you use energy and where it’s being wasted. Your home will be given an EnerGuide rating on a scale from 0 (being the least efficient) to 100. You will be provided with a list of improvements that can be made to improve your home’s heating, cooling, hot water heating and other energy uses. The OHEA program will even pay 50 percent of the cost of your audit, up to $ 150.

According to the OHEA website, a typical audit involves four steps. The first is a walk-through assessment of your home’s insulation, heating and cooling systems and other energy uses.

The next step is to perform something called a “blower door” depressurization test. A large variable-speed fan is mounted on an adjustable panel that fits into an exterior door on your home. The fan slowly reduces the air pressure inside the house, allowing the outside air to flow in to your home through unsealed exterior openings and cracks. A special pressure gauge is then employed to keep your house at a constant pressure. This enables the auditor to calculate your home’s resistance to air infiltration.

The third step is to calculate your home’s energy efficiency rating. The more air tight your home, the higher the rating.

The fourth step is to check to ensure that your home’s ventilation allows an adequate amount of fresh air to circulate, to ensure the health of the occupants.

Once your audit is complete, you’ll be given a personalized Energy Efficiency Evaluation Report that will rate suggested energy efficiency improvements according to their potential for energy savings, priority and available rebates. For example, a new water heater may only get a single star for energy saving potential, but because of the $ 500 rebate available, it may be more immediately affordable than installing a more expensive furnace that also has a $ 500 rebate.

In addition, you’ll be given a list of no cost/low cost suggestions that don’t qualify for rebate program such as how to effectively use weather stripping and caulking.

Once your first audit has been completed, you have 18 months to make some or all of the improvements suggested in order to qualify for the available government rebates. Upon completion of as much work as you intend to do, you’ll be required to have a second, post-retrofit audit completed. After your post-retrofit audit, you’ll then receive matching rebates from the Governments of Ontario and Canada, to a maximum of $ 5,000 each, for a grand total of $10,000.

As a final step, your auditor will perform your audit and provide you with your home’s new EnerGuide rating that shows how much you have improved your home’s energy efficiency. Given the high cost of all kinds of energy, an excellent EnerGuide rating can also increase the value of your home – a warm thought for the cold winter days ahead.


Visit to locate a qualified home auditor, view a sample Home Energy Action Checklist, find out about various rebate programs and other energy saving tips. has tips and tools on how to reduce energy use.

From now until November 16th visit for valuable discount coupons for energy saving products such as programmable thermostats, power bars, timers, compact fluorescent floodlights and spotlights.

For information on federal incentive programs for businesses, including fleet management, facilities and building improvements, visit Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency.


Post a Comment

<< Home