Peace and Environment Resource Centre

Your community voice for peace and sustainability

Get Adobe Flash player
  Become a member & receive the PEN!
 

Donate Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

About your donation

  Help spread the word and support our work!
 

Fundraise Now Through CanadaHelps.org!

 

 

Create a secure online giving page through CanadaHelps to share

Get PERC Updates

 

Sign up for our email newsletter for updates from the PERC and PEN

Event Calendars

Suggested Links:
Ecology Ottawa has an excellent calendar of local eco-events.
Green Ottawa has an events list as well as a directory of green groups, jobs, and more.

Old PERC site

Link to old PERC site

Please note: PEN archives and other online PERC projects prior to 2010 are provided as a courtesy but are not updated. We regret that we cannot correct outdated links or information from these past editions and projects.

In this issue..

Energy Assessments Help You Renovate Smart

Bridget O’Flaherty and Greg Furlong (EnviroCentre)

 

EnviroCentre_energy_assessment
Greg Furlong, Senior Energy Strategist, EnviroCentre, performs a home energy assessment. Photo courtesy of EnviroCentre.

 

A major renovation, such as finishing a basement, installing new siding or replacing the heating system is also a major investment. With continually rising fuel prices, more and more homeowners are considering how to reduce their energy bills while planning renovations.  They want to know where energy savings can be added into their renovation plans prior to making large changes to their home.  An energy assessment can provide this kind of valuable information, along with suitable recommendations for improvements.

Who performs an energy assessment?

A Certified Energy Advisor (or CEA) can guide the homeowner by conducting an energy assessment. Certified by Natural Resources Canada to conduct energy assessments, the CEA is trained and experienced in many aspects of the building industry. They look at a house differently than a building inspector or contractor, considering it as a system for providing comfortable, affordable and healthy shelter to its occupants, otherwise known as “home performance”.

What is an energy assessment?

As thorough as a buyer’s home inspection, a certified energy assessment provides a comprehensive analysis and understanding of a home’s energy performance, including current energy use and options for minor, major and deep retrofits for energy savings. The assessment includes measurements and calculations of a home’s geometry, detailed data collection on the building construction envelope and energy using systems, and a blower door test to measure air leakage. All of this information is used to create an energy model of a home using approved software. The results gleaned from this model can then be used to determine heat loads, quantify air leakage and understand indoor air quality.

A home’s energy usage is often solely attributed to its furnace. Although the type, efficiency and fuel used by a heating system are important factors, there is much more to a home’s overall performance. Compare this to a car, where performance is not just about the size and efficiency of the engine, but about many features working together:  aerodynamics, acoustics, glazing, drive train, electrical system and driver behaviour all influence how a car runs. A home has similar synergies.  First, there is the building envelope, which includes the roof, attics, ceilings, walls, windows, doors, foundations, floors and insulation as well as the  home’s natural air change rate (i.e. how quickly the air leaves, taking heat with it). Then there are the high energy users (like the car’s engine): the HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) systems, water heater, lights and appliances. Finally, an occupant’s behaviour can have a big impact on energy consumption – similar houses often receive very different utility bills!

During the energy assessment, a home’s data is collected and a depressurization test is performed, providing not only the information needed to create an energy model, but also serving as a critical diagnostic tool for detecting major and minor air leaks and to assess indoor air quality. A home’s natural air change rate should be in a range that provides good indoor air quality and will determine how much added mechanical ventilation is required. A CEA estimates these air changes and makes recommendations to keep families comfortable and healthy.

How can an energy assessment guide a renovation?

Once an energy assessment is complete, a CEA identifies what needs attention, where to find the biggest gains in energy conservation, and how to prioritize upgrades among the building envelope and HVAC systems. For example, minor improvements, such as caulking, weather stripping and other airsealing, can often have a big impact on keeping the heat in and can be mostly done by the homeowner themselves. Larger retrofits, such as adding insulation or new windows, and deep retrofits, such as gutting, exterior insulation, re-siding, or adding a new heating system, will most likely require the assistance of a professional. After a home is properly sealed, it is important to determine the right sized HVAC systems to ensure a home’s overall comfort.  This sizing can be based on the home’s performance as accurately determined by an energy assessment. Lastly, occupant behavior will always influence overall energy use, and a CEA can give homeowners tips on ways to conserve energy and save money.

A home is a place to feel safe and comfortable and renovations ensure these feelings last. Upgrading for aesthetic reasons may increase the overall value of a home, but including energy saving measures along the way increases it even more so. The advice received from an energy assessment increases a home’s ROI (return on investment) and keeps money in a homeowner’s pocket long after a renovation is complete.

To learn more about energy assessments or to take a workshop, please visit envirocentre.ca.


PEN Spring 2016

Want more PEN?

Look for the full print edition at community centres and select retailers throughout the Ottawa area.

The PERC site features highlights from the current edition. PDF versions of the full PEN will be available in the archives after the current edition is off the stands.

 

The PERC thanks the above organizations for their support.

Thank you to Sustainable Eastern Ontario, the Community Foundation of Ottawa, and the Ontario Trillium Foundation for sponsoring the Winter 2015-2016 edition of the PEN.

 

Viewpoints expressed should not be taken to represent the opinions of the Ottawa Peace and Environment Resource Centre, the Peace and Environment News, or our supporters. The PEN does not recommend, approve or endorse any of the advertisers, products or services printed in the PEN or referred to on the PERC website. Health-related information printed in the PEN or online is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified and licensed health care provider. The PERC and PEN are not responsible for the content on any external website links.