“Most people want to do the right thing. They’re just not sure exactly what that ‘right thing’ is” (Carl Duivenvoorden).
To be honest before this challenge, I wasn’t sure what the heck a home envelope was! What a steep learning curve it has been, not only learning what the things are but also learning what potentially are the right things to change!
So, what’s a home envelope you ask. Well, think of the home envelope as what keeps the heat in and the cold out (and vice versa). The shell. This includes your windows, doors, attic, floor, foundations, and insulation.
One of the best pieces of information I have learned so far in this challenge is that air leakage control is the single most important retrofit activity, and it should be considered FIRST in any upgrade strategy for your house. And although there are many common air leakage spots, ditching those drafts is one of the easiest and cheapest retrofits!
When Shane and I were thinking about how to make our home more efficient one of first thoughts before we joined the challenge, and before our home audits, was to upgrade and get another heat pump, but if we seal our home more, than we won’t need to heat it so much! I love the analogy that you don’t need to use a Hummer when you may only need a Honda!
So best piece of advice, is that you should seal your home envelope BEFORE upgrading your heating system to receive maximum energy efficiency and emissions reductions benefits.
So, when to start. Well, the here is now! However, there is a catch! Remember I said it is one of the easiest and the cheapest ways to make your home more efficient! It is, BUT did you know if you complete a pre-retrofit home energy audit AND THEN complete your retrofits that you can gain federal and provincial rebates for air sealing your home! The Canada Greener Homes Grant for air sealing is up to $1000 (there are many other rebates available for other retrofits as well)! And there are provincial rebates too!
Where to start? Find a certified EnerGuide Advisor in your area and book a pre-retrofit audit. Now, this audit is free in some provinces, but you will have to pay in others (like New Brunswick) for the combined provincial/federal audit. But there are rebates on audits as well! You have 9 months after the pre-audit to complete your work before the post-retrofit audit! By the way, rebates are applied AFTER the work is completed and the energy advisor has completed their post evaluation!
Through Canadian Geographic we also connected with Lightspark Digital who conducted a digital audit on our home AFTER the EnerGuide audit. Lightspark helped us to understand our EnerGuide energy score and also provided suggestions on home retrofits, based on energy efficiency AND carbon improvements. The first thing Lightspark suggested we do…you got it…air sealing!
Now a word to the wise is sufficient (thanks Mr. Dalgarno for all your Chemistry wisdom!). Retain receipts, supporting documentation AND photos of upgrades to show your energy advisor at the post-retrofit evaluation. Do. Not. Skip. This. Step.
A great guide on air sealing and more is available on the NRCAN (Natural Resources Canada) site. This guide also includes information about windows and doors, attics, foundation, insulation, materials, how to’s and more!
I’m looking forward to doing the right thing and Ditching our Draft!