Energy Efficiency Links

National Resources Canada has published a book to help homeowners and others understand how their homes work.  It is called “Keeping the Heat In” and is an excellent resource to help anyone understand and improve energy use and ventilation in their home.  The book can be downloaded as a .pdf file at the below noted link or can be read online at the same location on the internet.

http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/personal/heat/keeping-heat-in-toc.cfm?attr=4

The Federal Government has provided grant monies to improve the energy efficiency of Canadian homes through the EcoEnergy program.  The program is now closed to new entrants but may be re-instituted in the future.  Details can be found here:

http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/personal/retrofit-homes/retrofit-qualify-grant.cfm

The Province of B.C. has an active grant program which is closely associated with the EcoEnergy program.  Details about the LivesmartBC program can be found here:

http://www.livesmartbc.ca/homes/h_rebates.html

The bigger utilities in our Province have incentive programs to encourage customers to reduce energy use.  Please see the below noted links for information:

B.C. Hydro        http://www.bchydro.com/rebates_savings/

Fortis BC         http://www.fortisbc.com/powersense/powersense_main.html
The Cities of Kelowna, Summerland and Penticton have electrical utilities which are closely associated to FortisBC.  Grants and incentives available through FortisBC are also available to the customers of these electrical utilities.

Terasen BC        http://www.terasengas.com/Homes/Offers/default.htm

 

Grant Requirements – make it easy:

The Federal and Provincial grant programs have strict requirements for the energy savings components installed in your home.  For example, in our area windows must be rated for at least Canadian Energy Star Climate zone B in order to qualify for grants and incentives under LiveSmartBC and the EcoEnergy program.  Heating systems are another area where mistakes can be costly (grants won't apply unless approved equipment is installed).  Documentation can be a problem as most homeowners do not know exactly what is required and don't have the time or technical knowledge needed for this determination.

While carrying out your renovation, Uktrades will look after all documentation and requirements to ensure that you are eligible for applicable grants.  This may include photographs, drawings, plans, and invoices.

 



Consider energy efficiency and ventilation while doing general renovations:

Are you planning to renovate a kitchen or bathroom or other area to update it or improve it's functionality?  If so consider ventilation and energy improvements at the same time.  Installing high quality, low noise fans or other ventilation equipment along with sophisticated controls is more easily done during a renovation and will improve the ventilation and health of your home.  Installing high quality windows and doors  and improved insulation will reduce energy use and make the building more pleasant to live in.

Energy Efficiency Considerations:

Lowering energy use is a good hedge against increasing costs.  Utility costs for our homes are a considerable drain of our financial resources and prices continue to increase well above the rate of inflation.  As an example, BC Hydro plans a total rate increase of about 27% over the next three years.  Considering the increasing demand for energy, the increase in population in our province and concerns about environmental issues it is unlikely that energy costs will retreat.

Our homes may stand for 50 to 100 years or more.  Improving their efficiency will pay over and over, year after year.  Most buildings can be made more efficient by improving insulation levels, insulating foundations, installing improved windows and doors, and installing better heating, cooling and water heating systems.

Well chosen investments in energy efficiency will pay for themselves over reasonable periods of time in both saved money and improved comfort.  Talk to the experts at UK Trades to determine the best renovation strategy for your home.

 

Heating systems vs. Insulation:

Quantitative modelling of the energy use of homes usually shows the most energy savings from installing new energy efficient heating systems.  Improving insulation levels is not usually as high on the list of energy savings.

However;

Consider that new heating and cooling systems are complex and expensive and will require regular maintenance.  Their life is likely to be a decade or two before replacements are required.

Insulation does not require maintenance and once installed is usually good for the life of the building.  It will not only save energy but will improve the comfort of the building and can significantly reduce noise levels.

 

Windows and Doors:

There is no doubt that replacing old leaky windows and doors with new units can be expensive.  There are significant benefits however to properly installed high quality windows and doors:

  • Lower energy use.
  • Lower air leakage and less uncomfortable drafts.
  • Significant reductions in noise levels.
  • In cases of south and west facing windows, significant reductions in heat buildup in hot, sunny  weather.
  • Coupled with ventilation improvements, reductions in moisture buildup on the inside of windows during cold weather.

 

It is extremely important that windows and doors are properly installed.  UK Trades has been doing these installations for       years and uses industry approved methods to ensure the best performance and longest life of your new units.

 

Noise:

Continuous noise, even at low levels, can have significant impacts upon our health.  Our cities are very noisy and not likely to get better. 

High quality windows and increased insulation levels can have a significant impact on noise levels within a home.  Spray foam insulation is particularly effective in reducing noise levels and increasing wall insulation or wall thickness can also have a considerable impact.  Replacing old leaky, ill fitting windows and doors with new units may also reduce noise levels by a significant amount.

Consider improvements to your home to make it more enjoyable and quieter.  In many cases this may be the only viable noise reduction strategy other than moving.

https://secure.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/wiki/Noise_health_effects


http://shatteredpeace.com/adverse_health_effects_noise.htm

 

Ventilation:

In order to have a healthy home (for both the occupants and the structure) your residence should have  an air exchange rate of about 1/3 per hour.  In other words every hour about 1/3 of the volume of air in the residence should be exhausted and replaced with fresh outside air.  This proportion will depend on the use and number of occupants in the building but is a good starting figure.

Signs of poor air quality are moisture on inside of windows during cold weather, cooking and other smells that linger for hours and mold on window edges or inside corners of the building.  These symptoms can also reduce the life of the building and increase maintenance costs.

In cold weather it is not efficient to open windows to bring in fresh air.  Using exhaust fans or more sophisticated mechanical means enables a control of the amount of air exchange and reduces energy use.

In order of cost and energy effectiveness there are a few available options to provide good ventilation:

    • high quality low noise bathroom and kitchen fans coupled with dehumidistats and timers.
    • “whole house” fans coupled with a fresh air intake anc controls.
    • heat recovery ventilation system – takes heat out of evacuated air and uses it to heat incoming air (in cold weather).

Energy Efficient Improvements:

In most cases, particularly in homes built before 1980 or so, reducing air leakage is by far the most cost effective method of reducing energy use.  UK Trades will work with you to determine applicable methods of air leakage reduction.

Improving the insulation level of existing buildings can be a challenge.  For that reason attic insulation is usually suggested (often relatively easy to do) yet foundations are neglected.  Energy modelling often indicates far better improvements in efficiency by improving foundation insulation (crawlspaces and basements) than by increasing attic insulation levels (particularly if the attic is at a level of R30 or better).

Uninsulated walls should also be considered as candidates for insulation.  There are a number of ways to improve insulation levels of such walls.  Options will include blown insulation, exterior insulation or  insulating from the inside.  Ask UK Trades for options applicable to your home.

 

Alternative Energy:

Questions often arise about the use of “alternative” energy in our homes.  In almost all cases it is far more cost effective to reduce energy consumption before installing alternatives.  Before considering any of the below noted alternatives, do everything you can to reduce your energy needs. 

Alternative energy may include solar thermal (domestic hot water or pools for example), solar PV (generating electricity with PV panels), wind and micro hydro.

In the Okanagan valley we tend to have little wind – nowhere near enough to make wind generation cost effective.  We also experience a large proportion of cloudy days in the winter season, making solar space heating during the winter impractical and reducing the effectiveness of solar PV.

It is unusual for a homeowner to have a viable stream running on their property so micro hydro is seldom an option.

Solar PV is still quite expensive and it is unlikely that a solar PV system will pay for itself within 20 years or so if you are connected to the grid.  Both FortisBC and BCHydro allow grid tie*  however the price paid for electricity is very low and until solar electric equipment prices are reduced significantly such systems will not be cost effective.

The only cost effective system at this time is installation of solar hot water systems to heat pools and to heat domestic hot water.  Pool systems are particularly cost effective.  Depending upon the amount of hot water used in a residence, solar domestic hot water systems can be cost effective.  There have been grants for such systems (on again off again unfortunately) that have reduced the costs sufficiently to make them quite attractive.

One worthwhile addition to any renovation is to make the house “solar ready”.  This involves running a large conduit or two from the equipment room to the attic near a south facing roof area.  In the event that a solar domestic hot water system or solar pv system is installed in the future such conduit will make the installation much easier and less expensive. 

* grid tie – the utility customer generates electricity and feeds extra into the grid.  Some jurisdictions such as Ontario pay high prices for solar generated electricity (up to $.802 per kWh) making it very cost effective to install an installation on your house or grounds.  In BC the rates paid are similar to those paid by the customer to the utility (about $0.08 per kWh).

 


- Other:

  • include a few short references/stories from happy clients (eg. Current one about client and noise reduction).
  • Include photos.

John Suttie:

  • has done extensive renovation of his own home, concentrating on energy efficiency upgrades.  The renos included designing and installing Kelowna's first approved residential solar domestic hot water system.
  • worked for 2.5 years as a Certified Energy Advisor under the EcoEnergy and LivesmartBC programs, computer modelling energy use of residences and providing clients with information and advice towards improving the energy efficiency of their homes.
  • involved with planning and installing a solar domestic hot water system at a Habitat for Humanity home in Kelowa.
  • chaired the Okanagan Chapter of the B.C. Sustainable Energy Association for 2 years.
  • remains dedicated to helping others reduce energy use in their homes and their lives.

Quality Renovations in Kelowna, and from Vernon to Penticton - Okanagan Valley

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