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Last summer Mehdi bought a 30 year old townhouse close to the Vancouver-Burnaby border. Although he was happy to move into his new place, it had a pretty major flaw in his mind - single paned windows.
Mehdi is a technical guy and knows a lot about energy – in fact he spends most of his work day crunching numbers to figure out what makes the most financial sense in terms of energy upgrades for buildings and residential homes throughout the city.
However, when it came to his own home, what drove him to improve energy efficiency of his townhouse, more than anything else, was comfort. When the colder weather set in, he and the rest of his family could feel the cold air seeping though the single glazing. No one wanted to sit close to the windows, which effectively limited the functional space in all of his rooms.
He decided to replace his windows, but first go through the Energuide process in order to qualify for the grant. He also recognized the need to look his household energy use, holistically: If he could reduce the heat loss, and subsequent heating need, this would allow for other opportunities to make energy upgrades. Although he has a lot of expertise in this area he found the Energuide evaluation useful, especially the door blower test which provided quantifiable data to confirm what he suspected was the case. He also really appreciated the fact that the Energuide evaluators come from an unbiased position and weren't trying to sell him anything and the simplicity of the report.
He calculated that by replacing his windows he could also reduce his furnace size by about 12%. He is also going to upgrade from a low to medium efficiency furnace - which overall it should improve the heating efficiency by 60%. A smaller furnace will also reduce the amount of cycling and better maintain a constant temperature in his home, further contributing to a more comfortable space for his family.
He has received quotes, decided on which contractor to go with and expects to have his new double glazed windows and furnace installed soon. His total investment will be $5,000. He has calculated his Energize grant on the website and expects to receive $1,117. He also estimates that his new windows and smaller, more efficient furnace will save him $980 annually in heating costs. He is also quite looking forward to being able to sit by a window again and read by natural light.
His advice for others - don't wait. The Energuide is a great program, particular for anyone who lives in a house or town home with single paned windows it's a home run. And this is coming from an expert.
Rob and Monica recently purchased an older house in Mount Pleasant but once the colder weather arrived they noticed it was a bit chilly and there was a draft in the living room.
After friends recommended the One Day at Home website, they logged on and then quickly decided to arrange for a visit from an EnerGuide for Houses service provider. Their house initially scored 53 and the accompanying report recommended that the biggest energy savings would be insulating the main walls and replacing the furnace. It also recommended replacing the windows and insulating the basement.
After speaking with some contractors that they found through the One Day at Home website, they decided to have insulation blow into the main walls and add insulation to the concrete foundation wall at a cost of $1,500. They also sealed up some of the air leaks and the chimney vent themselves for another $20. They opted against replacing the windows and furnace because these were considerably more expensive undertakings and the furnace was still in good repair.
Their follow-up EnerGuide for Houses rating of 72 brought them an $1,130 grant, earned them a $1,300 rebate on their mortgage loan insurance and since they had used Bright Ideas financing to pay for the work, Van City paid them $170 which pretty much covered the cost of the EnerGuide evaluations.
Monica was pleased that they had nearly $900 more than when they started andwould be saving $650 a year off their heating bills. Rob was just happy that he could read in the living room at night without needing a blanket.
When Chris's furnace began acting up, the first contractor he called quoted him $3,200 to replace it. The second contractor recommended replacing it with a high-efficiency one at a cost of $4,000 but to do it before Christmas so as to take advantage of the limited-time offer manufacturer rebates.
Chris decided to get an EnerGuide evaluation to see what an unbiased expert would recommend. His evaluation report indicated that replacing his furnace was Chris's biggest energy saving opportunity; the other suggested changes offered only marginal energy improvements.
Chris decided to pay the extra $800 for a high-efficiency furnace with variable speed fan and made sure he asked his contractor for a sizing calculation to make sure the furnace that was getting installed wasn't bigger than required.
After claiming his $350 from Terasen Gas, $150 from the furnace manufacturer, a $507 EnerGuide for Houses grant and a $100 EnerGuide bonus for Energy Star furnaces, his high-efficiency furnace cost him $307 less than a mid-efficient one would have. In addition, he reduced his monthly heating bills by 20%.
Chris no longer had to worry if his furnace would fail during one of his daughter's weekends with him and he felt like he'd gotten a pretty good deal too.