Why You Should Retrofit Your Home – Money available to encourage ‘Going Green’
The residential construction industry in BC has drastically updated its building standards in the past few years as builders realized that the old ways homes weren’t necessarily the most energy-efficient.
Currently, the target for Net Zero Homes is 2032. What is ‘Net Zero’ you ask? By 2032 builders will need to construct houses that emit no greenhouse gas emissions or that offset its emissions, creating a ‘net zero’ effect on the environment.
Although that’s great news for new home construction and future homeowners, this plan ‘stops the bleeding’ when it comes to climate change in residential construction. But what about all the homes already built that emit an average of 10.5 tones per year of greenhouse gases?
To put it into perspective, in an average year in British Columbia, the housing supply grows roughly 2% per year. In other words, 98% of the homes previously built need to be updated if our homes are going to play a role in solving the climate emergency. That means there’s an opportunity to retrofit old homes rather than solely focusing on the new homes.
Les Bellamy, a custom home builder and the owner of Bellamy Homes said “Step Code is hyper-targeted on new home construction that’s already, 60% to 100% more efficient than existing homes. But that’s because it was the easier political target. If we truly care about the environment, we need to improve the existing stock.”
The reality is we need to upgrade and renovate all the existing homes quickly because, in Canada, our homes account for 18% of total greenhouse gas emissions.
Once homeowners actively retrofit their homes, we could cut down our carbon footprint and reduce how much energy our homes consume.
What is a Home Retrofit?
A home retrofit is a change or an upgrade to your home to make it more energy-efficient. Retrofits make homes more comfortable and more affordable to maintain while also making them more eco-friendly.
What are examples of green retrofit renovations I could get?
- Air Sealing around windows, doors, electrical outlets and vents.
- Upgrade old equipment to high-performing or ENERGY STAR products and appliances (e.g., furnace, AC, water heater, fridge, clothes washer and dryer)
- Replace old windows and lighting for high-performing or ENERGY STAR windows
- Upgrade insulation in walls, attic and basement
Why should I choose to retrofit my home?
1. Save Money
As a homeowner, retrofits are great because they’ll make your home more energy-efficient and less expensive to run in the long run. In addition, the Canadian government is pushing many grants and opportunities for homeowners to take advantage of.
The Canada Greener Homes initiative is giving up to $5,600 rebates for home energy retrofits for renovations – which is a huge amount for even a small renovation. The rebate would pay for not only the wages of hiring an energy advisor and contractors, but it would cover most of the materials as well.
There are also many rebates and offers you can apply for through FortisBC.
Brad Veenstra, the owner of Blue Vision Design Inc explains how heat pumps have changed to be more energy efficient. “In the past, Energy Consultants did not really have a way to model them properly. However, this year they’ve been really fine-tuning that. Builders and renovators are now learning more about air source heat pumps and the energy savings they can achieve.” Brad explained that the new air source heat pumps are like an AC unit, but it works in reverse so that it also produces heat. The new heat pumps are really efficient because now homes can reduce the demand for their furnaces by getting the heat from the air source heat pump in moderately cold temperatures.
Realistically, retrofit renovations can’t save enough energy in your home to easily break even with the cost, it’s going to take to get in there. For instance, let’s say you want to change all your lightbulbs to be more energy-efficient, it will probably cost you a couple of hundred dollars to replace all the old ones, yet you will only be saving a couple of cents per bill. So thankfully, there are many rebates and grants available to help cover some of the investment upfront.
2. Create New Jobs
In 2018, the energy efficiency sector employed 436,000 workers in Canada. However, with the new greener homes grants available, it would be fair to assume that the number of jobs available in the energy efficiency sector will greatly multiply.
Suppliers, renovators and tradespeople will be in higher demand, which in turn will also increase their wages.
Let’s take a look at how jobs would be created for only one retrofit in one home:
To start the process of getting a Canada Greener Homes Grant, homeowners will need to get in contact with an Energy Advisor first. Click here for a list of reputable Energy Advisors.
Then, an Energy Advisor will evaluate your home to see if you qualify for the grant. They can also recommend and help you decide which retrofits work best for your budget and renovation plans.
Once you have been approved for the Greener Homes Grant, you will need to collect supplies and appliances from manufacturers, as well as hire a renovator or a contractor to install the retrofit.
So, for one retrofit, you would need to hire at least three people to complete the renovation. Image the number of jobs Canadians could create if every homeowner were to get at least one retrofit!
3. Save the Planet
Ultimately, it’s not all about the cost because the alternative is our planet burns up. By retrofitting our homes, we can make an impact by reducing our carbon footprint and limit how much energy our homes consume.
Upgrading the building envelope, ventilation, heating and cooling systems are the best ways to optimize our home’s overall performance. After all, every change is one big step towards living on a cleaner planet. Some examples are:
- By installing a certified range hood in your kitchen, you could use 50% less energy than a standard one.
- Certified ventilation fans in bathrooms use 50% less energy than standard models.
- By choosing an energy-efficient exterior door you could save 25% more energy through better insulation.
Natural Resources Canada has a detailed list of exactly how much energy every improvement can save here.
Want to learn more about retrofits or want to get started on applying for the Canada Greener Homes grant?
Contact the CHBA-CO for more information.