Between 2007 and 2020 almost 30,000 houses were rated using the EnerGuide Rating System in Hamilton. 90% of these houses also completed a post-retrofit energy evaluation to capture the savings from the energy conservation upgrades or renovations that were completed. From what we have seen, energy-efficient houses are increasing in numbers as more rebates are available and as homeowners become more aware of the long-term savings possible. Whether you’re starting at the bottom of the pyramid or have already implemented some changes, there are some key elements to consider after having an energy evaluation done.
At first glance, energy efficient houses can look similar to inefficient houses. Energy efficiency should begin with subtle changes such as changing light bulbs to LEDs, caulking, and weatherstripping to then incorporate upgrades like exterior wall insulation, solar panels and heat pumps or other types of fuel switching. Energy conservation upgrades are meant to not only save you money by using less energy but have also been designed to provide better levels of comfort, aesthetics and durability. In a nutshell, efficient buildings aim to provide the same or a greater level of comfort while using less energy and reducing costs.
Although there is no one-size-fits all when it comes to retrofitting houses in Ontario, we aim to outline retrofits homeowners can make that will benefit nearly all residential, single dwelling buildings in Hamilton and beyond. As we have seen, Greenhouse Gas reduction targets are increasingly becoming the policy driver for incentive programs, and there is a need for deep emission reductions throughout the housing sector. Offerings to all houses is needed, and attractive retrofits are available to new houses where little building envelope improvement is needed, such as conversion to high performance heat pumps. In other words, in order for Hamilton to meet our carbon reduction targets, old inefficient houses are no longer the main target for program design and marketing. The new HER+ program aims to target most houses regardless of fuel type and retrofits needed.
We understand that natural gas currently dominates the market for space heating. Fuel switching away from gas is a primary strategy for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the residential sector. With the unquestionable rising costs of natural gas, electricity is proving to be the most efficient and affordable energy source moving forward. Due to the high efficiency (250%-500%) and improvements in heat pump technology in recent years, HER+ will not offer any incentives for natural gas powered mechanical residential systems. Air source heat pumps are clearly emerging as a key technology for residential retrofitting.
Homeowners that have already applied to the Greener Homes Grant and/or Loan (GHG), will have the option to shift into the new HER+ program. Participants in the GHG or Enbridge’s Home Efficiency Rebate that would prefer not to be transferred to the HER+ program will have until April 30th, 2023 to complete all eligible retrofits and follow-up energy assessment. New rebate applicants, as of January 1st, 2023 will be instructed to contact a licensed service organization directly (Green Venture!) to schedule their pre-retrofit energy assessment.
- For final assessments done in 2023 where the initial assessment was before 2023 clients will have the choice of rebates from HER until April 30th, or from GHG or HER+
- For clients already enrolled in the GHG or HER programs in 2022, they will automatically be shifted into the new program and do not need to reapply
- New clients interested in the HER+ rebates need to call Green Venture and we will enroll them. These clients do not need to apply, register or enroll themselves
- Existing clients that would like rebates for gas burning equipment or bonuses on the outgoing HER rebate schedule will need to complete the work and get their final assessment by the end of April
- All clients that have already applied for the loan from the NRCan grant portal, must continue to access their loan from the NRCan grant portal.
- All new clients can apply for the loan directly through the loan portal
- If a client is already approved, they must continue their journey in the way it was commenced and finish the retrofit through Greener Homes rather than using HER+
All other questions for the CGHLoan should be directed to CMHCs’ help contact center:
Email_FR : Questions@icpmv.ca
Groups and Rebate Amounts:
- Non-gas clients: oil, propane, electrically and wood heated owner-occupied houses are eligible to receive $5,600 in rebates
- Natural gas clients (owner occupied): are eligible to receive $10,600 in rebates even if going off-gas (rebates have increased from the old GHG Program)
- Rental properties or cottages: are eligible to receive $5,600 in rebates
Note: All rebates for gas-burning equipment are gone and so are the multi-measure and basement bonuses. Participants will no longer be required to complete a 2 measure minimum, one is enough to qualify for rebates. Please stay tuned on our website or reach out to our Energy team for more information.
Contacting Green Venture:
Toll-Free: 905-540-8787 ext. 1
Hierarchy of Energy Conservation (As Inspired by TreeHugger.com)
Home Energy Evaluation: The results of an EnerGuide Home Energy Assessment will show you exactly where the trouble areas exist in your home and what you can do to stop losing energy and money. The EnerGuide home evaluation and rating system was designed by Natural Resources Canada to help home and property owners make their homes more energy-efficient and reduce the burden of high energy costs.
Low-Cost and Lifestyle: Your energy choices add up! Remembering to turn things off, adjusting temperature settings and keeping your plug load top of mind is important. Changing all light bulbs to LEDs, using power bars with timers, using clotheslines, installing efficient showerheads and aerators all fall under this category.
Air Sealing and Insulation: On average, 20-30% of energy can be lost through air leakage. Air sealing cracks and crevices inside the home is a necessary step before installing insulation. Typical areas where insulation should be increased are in attics, exterior walls and foundations (the usual culperates!)
Windows: Window inserts (an acrylic window that fits inside your existing windows) and/or a retrofit replacement involves only removing the window sash to improve efficiency. Windows fulfill all the functions that an outer wall does (water shedding, water resistant, air barrier, vapor barrier and they are insulating for heat loss and heat gain). We find that window terminology can be confusing! We encourage you to speak with an energy advisor while on-site to discuss your options as your windows will need to be examined to understand if these are viable options.
Fuel Switching: Once you have completed the retrofits above, you can begin the journey of getting off gas and discontinue using all inefficient fuel sources. Although this requires an investment, this will make a significant difference in carbon emissions and will likely cost less in the long-run. By making incremental retrofits to a house, smaller heat pumps can be used to heat and cool the house, costing homeowners less. A retrofit that can sometimes pair well with this upgrade is a drain water heat recovery system.
Solar installation and storage: If your property gets sun between 10:00am and 2:00pm and you are able to receive the right permits, this is likely a worthwhile investment. Having a hybrid solar system with batteries can allow you to have power even when the grid is down, no need for a backup generator.
Passive House: The PassivHaus Standard aims to build and retrofit houses that consume up to 90% less heating and cooling energy than conventional buildings. By using the latest technology, this energy efficient building standard not only allows for savings on energy but also increases comfort & health, fresh air circulation, versatility and sustainability. This is done by adding extra insulation in the walls, creating a sealed layer around the house (air-barrier), preventing heat from escaping (controlling air-flow, lessing thermal bridging) and using heat recovery ventilation systems, for example. We find it fascinating that these types of houses can use body heat, solar heat and even heat from your television to keep the house warm.
We can guarantee that an EnerGuide assessment will take the guesswork out of home-energy upgrades. After the assessment, you will receive a full report that will help you understand where and how your house is losing energy. Finding those unforgiving air leaks will be a crucial step in improving your home’s performance when it comes to energy use, comfort and sustainability. Our Advisors are always happy to help and walk you through the report if needed!