Energy conservation is a growing concern for many Canadians - so much so that the federal government offered monetary incentives for homeowners who implemented recommendations made by certified energy inspectors. While these incentives have expired, you can still decrease your utility bills by up to 20% or more with eco-friendly home renovations. The best place to start is with a home energy audit.

How a home energy audit works

During a home energy audit, a professional inspector will come into your home and conduct a top-to-bottom assessment of the heating and cooling systems, insulation and other energy sources. The inspector will also conduct a "blower door" test to detect air leaks and drafts. Afterwards, you will receive a comprehensive report of the inspector's findings and recommendations to improve energy efficiency. Choosing to implement all, some, or none of the recommendations will be yours to make.

Areas of focus in a home energy inspection

Here are some common recommendations from a home energy inspection.

  • Heating system: If your home is heated by an older-model furnace, your inspector may recommend replacing it with an ENERGY STAR® gas furnace or installing an earth-energy system (ground or water source) that is regulation compliant. You may also stand to gain efficiencies by installing electronic thermostats for electric baseboard heaters or installing an ENERGY STAR®-qualified air source heat pump for both heating and cooling.
  • Cooling system: Older central or window air conditioning units should be replaced with ENERGY STAR®-qualified systems for maximum efficiency.
  • Ventilation system: ecoENERGY recommends systems that are certified by the Home Ventilating Institute (HVI) for heating or energy-recovery.
  • Domestic hot water system: Replace an older domestic hot water system with one that is solar-powered or qualified by ENERGY STAR®.
  • Insulation: Make sure the proper amount of insulation has been installed in your home's building envelope, ceilings, exterior walls, exposed floors, the foundation, basement and crawl space. A professional inspector can determine if these areas are properly insulated.
  • Air sealing: Your energy efficiency report will reveal your home's ideal "air change rate," i.e. the volume of fresh air required for proper ventilation. If your home is currently not achieving the optimum rate, an "air sealing" can increase tightness.
  • Doors/windows/skylights: Replace older doors, windows and skylights with models that meet ENERGY STAR® standards for your climate zone.
  • Water conservation: You can promote water conservation within your home by installing low-flush or dual-flush toilets rated at 6 litres or less per flush.

Use a loan from CIBC to help fund your renovations

Following your home energy audit, you may be interested in making updates to your house. But, major changes like buying a new furnace and replacing windows can be costly. CIBC can help you finance the costs of these upgrades with personal loans and home equity loans or lines of credit. You can apply online or contact a CIBC advisor at 1-866-525-8622.

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