Save Money & Energy in Your Home Calgary
Energy Efficiency vs Cost effective? How some homeowners are wasting thousands of dollars on energy efficiency with no real benefit.
Issues with Some Energy Efficiency Upgrades Is That They May Not Be Cost Effective. Examples Solar Panels and Tank-Less Water Heaters
On demand Water heater replacement provides an average annual savings of 5-8 Gigajoules. This translated into dollars is approximately $40 to $60 compared to a gas water tank heater. Here are my issues with On-demand water heaters:
- Annual Maintenance is required at an average cost of $150.00. Without annual maintenance, warranties may be effected.
- Hot water supply is minimal. If two people are taking a shower at the same time or a shower and dishwasher is being used simultaneously, the water flow is restricted which causes a discomfort and inconvenience for the homeowner.
- Up front cost of a Tank-less water heater is much more expensive compared to traditional tanks.
- Reliability issues as tank-less heaters have many controls and intricate parts; More parts, more potential issues.
- In hard water areas like Calgary they will “lime up”. This significantly reduces efficiency as opposed to a tank where the build-up has little to no effect on efficiency.
- Tank-less water heaters require continuous electrical usage. This increases your electrical bill.
- For some small homes with few members, such a tank may be practical enough. However, for the average household, a tank-less water heater does not make any economic sense.
Solar Panels are great for the environment yet are not an absolute solution for many people.
- Solar panels are expensive with a payback return of 12-15 years even with government incentives. Given that the average time people stay within a home is 6 years; there is no cost benefit.
- There are no noticeable comfort benefits.
- The orientation of the roof is a huge factor in the efficiency of the solar panels. If a back yard is facing North, the cost saving will be significantly reduced.
- In existing homes, roof space may be an issue depending where vents and plumbing stacks are positioned.
- Trees and buildings that are close by may effective the efficiency of the solar panels when they shade the sun.
- Before installing a solar panel conserving energy should be key “conservation is cheaper than generation”
- In Alberta, the AUC has set rules for renewable energy. With grid ties solar panels, you can get a credit from your retailer with excess electricity that is generated. However, you will still have to pay fees like the distribution charge, transmission charge, local access fee, delivery charge and balancing pool allocation on your bill. Because distribution charge is largely fixed and, therefore, cannot be reduced by generating your own electricity. The renewable energy will only be credited for portion or all of your energy use and additional energy above and beyond that will not be credited.
- These are all important factors when considering adding renewables. Now to be fair in some cases solar energy makes perfect sense and can be cost effective and beneficial especially in an off-grid area where utility services are not available. The rate at which the price of solar panels has been reducing I believe that this is a viable resource in the near future but for the moment it has its limitations.
How much savings can an Efficiency Upgrade potentially save you? Most Major Renovations such a New Furnace, Triple Pane Windows, Tank-less Water Heaters, etc. May Only Lower Your Bill by Less Than $300 Per Year
In an Alberta energy bill, you pay for energy usage, a distribution charge, a transmission charge, a local access fee, a delivery charge and a balancing pool allocation. Because these charges are largely fixed, there is not much that you can do to lower this portion for the cost of energy. Therefore, the energy saved does not correlate with the cost of energy saved.
Case Study / Success story
Our EnerGuide Home Evaluation Saved Over $20,000
in Home Renovation Costs, CMHC Insurance and Monthly Energy Bills
John is looking at buying an older home with the intentions of doing some home improvements and upgrades for energy efficiency as their energy bills were higher than the average home. He guestimates that the most cost-efficient initiative would be to upgrade to triple pane windows which would cost $20,000. An EnerGuide Home Evaluation revealed that the energy savings for this upgrade would be $15 annually. WestPro recommends that he consider changing the furnace to a high efficiency furnace instead, which would cost $4,000. The energy savings with a new high efficiency furnace would be approximately $300 annually saving John $16,000 in renovations, $4,750 in CMHC insurance premiums and $300 a year in energy savings.
Why most homeowners are leaving money on the table and what can you do about it?
One of the best kept secrets that most mortgage brokers are not aware of. How would you like to learn how to potentially receive up to 25% off your mortgage insurance premium?
Do You Qualify for these Incentive Programs?
That Will Help pay or cover some of your renovation costs?
An EnerGuide Home Evaluation May Make Your Home Eligible
for a 25% Refund on CHMC Premium Mortgage Loan Insurance
CMHC Green Home offers a premium refund of up to 25% to borrowers who either buy, build or renovate for energy efficiency using CMHC-insured financing. If you purchase an existing home and make energy-efficient improvements you may be eligible for a CMHC Green Home premium refund*. To qualify, your home must be assessed by a Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) qualified energy advisor before and after the energy efficiency improvements are made.
Energy-efficient Housing Made More Affordable with Mortgage Loan Insurance
Click here to learn more about CMHC Green Home Incentives: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/co/moloin/moloin_008.cfm
Here are some simple things homeowners can do to drastically reduce their energy consumption. Of course, this will also require some behavior changes. Homeowners may also want to schedule an EnerGuide Home Evaluation by a registered Energy Advisor from NRCan for the most up-to-date knowledge and systems in home energy efficiency, An Energy Advisor can perform an in-depth testing to find the best energy solutions for your particular home. An energy advisor can assess leakage in the building envelope by performing a blower door test. and recommend fixes that will dramatically increase comfort and energy savings. By recommending improvements to lower long-term energy consumption significantly. As much as half of the energy used in homes goes toward heating and cooling so it would be appropriate to begin with this.
Some homes are very drafty which is a huge energy loss. Sealing air leakages can drastically improve energy efficiency and comfort. The following are some common places where leakage may occur:
- Around pipes and wires
- Wall or window-mounted air conditioners
- Attic hatches
- Fireplace dampers
- Inadequate weather-stripping around doors and windows
- Rim joists
- Above foundation
- Window frames
- Window edges and cracks
Note that if existing windows have rotted or damaged wood, cracked glass, missing putty, poorly fitting sashes, or locks that don’t work, they should be repaired or replaced.
Make sure that all your building envelope is insulated. Basements area where missing insulation is frequent. Especially around the rim joist this should be addressed as heat loss escapes through these areas.
Insulate your hot water pipes to prevent heat loss.
Install a programmable thermostat. Programming the thermostat to be turned down during times that no one is home and at night.
During winter, open curtains to allow sunlight in. The radiant heat from the sun will naturally heat your home. Close them at night to reduce heat loss through the windows.
Replace incandescent lights to LED
Turn off the lights when rooms are unoccupied. Consider installing timers, photo cells, or occupancy sensors to reduce the amount of time your lights are on.
Install efficient showerheads and toilets.
low-flow showerheads and low flush toilets
Add aerators to faucets reduces water consumption
Wait until you have a full load of clothes before washing
Replace aging, inefficient appliances. ENERGY STAR–labeled products can cut your energy bills by up to 30%.
Reduce or eliminate Phantom loads (A phantom loadis any device that consumes electricity when turned off but still plugged into an outlet.)
- Computers should be shut off when not in use and not in standby mode as energy is still being consumed
- Chargers, microwave, coffee machine… still consume energy when they are plugged in. When they are not being used they should be unplugged. Consider using smart power bars http://www.amazon.com/Smart-Strip-Protector-Autoswitching-Technology/dp/B0006PUDQK
- Laptop computers consume considerably less electricity than desktop computers.
- Use efficient ENERGY STAR-rated electronics.
- Avoid using high-temperature settings when clothes are not very soiled.
- Clean the lint trap every time before you use the dryer. Not only is excess lint a fire hazard, but it will prolong the amount of time required for your clothes to dry.
- If possible, air-dry your clothes on lines and racks.
- Spin-dry or wring clothes out before putting them into a dryer.
This is by no means an exhaustive list or any undertaking that would require substantial efforts but a list of some feasible ways to reduce energy consumption.
Homeowners should also take advantage of the Alberta efficiency programs including the residential No Charge Energy saving program https://www.efficiencyalberta.ca/residential/