Brought to you by Efficiency Nova Scotia and TheCo.

The first day of winter is just over a month away and the weather is definitely changing. At this time of year, I typically blog about all the ways I like to make our house cozy for the coming cocoon months – like adding faux fur throw blankets, wearing knitted slippers and indulging in hot herbal tea. However, the truth of the matter is none of that makes any sense if you’re living in a home that isn’t holding its heat! And so Efficiency Nova Scotia is sponsoring today’s post all about our experience with a Home Energy Assessment  (HEA). All homeowners across Nova Scotia who are electrically heated are eligible for this program that costs only $99. Totally worth it in my opinion. I really wish we’d done this sooner.

I thought I knew how homes are heated and how to save energy – but honestly, this process taught me a lot and gave both Dan and I the push we needed to make small changes that will add up to big savings on our electrical bill and a lot less heat loss through the cold months.

Brent, a certified energy advisor, came to the house and took measurements of the entire outside. He was measuring the volume of our home to determine how much heat we actually need to keep it warm. Then he went through the home and inspected our heat pumps, electric baseboard heaters, doors, windows, attic and basement crawl spaces – basically the whole house.

Along the way, he was making notes and explaining how we can ‘tighten’ up our ‘leaky’ house to improve energy efficiency. I was shocked to learn, for example, that our old style thermostats controlling our baseboard heaters have a margin of error of 10C!! That’s HUGE! Brent suggested we swap out the ones we use most often for digital thermostats which have a margin of error of only 0.5C. We’ll be doing that for sure.

Up in the attic, he found the insulation was ‘a bit wonky’. I’m honestly not surprised. A while back our bathroom fan wasn’t venting well and Dan went up there and found the previous owner had tossed an old interior door into the trusses and it was covering part of the vent and had disturbed the insulation. Brent suggested we upgrade our attic insulation so it’s at least 16 inches deep all around. Doing this would bring us up to an R50 rating.

Oddly enough, he said the actual hatch into the attic was a major source of heat loss! Not only is it a place for air to escape, it is totally uninsulated, it’s just a piece of drywall at the moment. He said we can glue an 8″ piece of Styrofoam to it, add weather stripping and a latch and we will see great results. Who knew?! Not I 🙂 Upgrading or redoing attic insulation is part of the Home Energy Assessment Program too, so if we do it within 12 months, we’ll get some money back for our efforts. Win-win.

The last step of the process was to document the leaks in the home with the help of a giant fan attached to the front door (which in our case is also in need of either replacing or more weather-stripping) and Brent happened to have a heat sensor camera with him. We walked around the house one last time snapping thermal images of the rooms to document the exact location of the cold draughts.

A couple other upgrades Brent suggested have to do with our basement. We have plans to renovate at some point, so now we’ll be much more conscious about energy savings when we draft the plan. For example, soon we will need a new water heater. Brent suggested a heat pump technology unit as a replacement, which will save us 20%-30% on heating water.

At the end of the HEA, we were emailed a full detailed report listing the options we have for improving energy efficiency and saving money. It’s up to us which improvements we decide to do. It’s quite empowering to know that it’s within our capacity to make a bunch of small, relatively inexpensive, fixes as well as some more involved updates, that will add up to significant savings…I still love my faux fur blankets though 😉

-Erin

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

This post is sponsored by Efficiency Nova Scotia. Of course, all opinions and experiences are our own and we appreciate the support of our sponsors who help to keep DIY Passion up and running! This post may also contain affiliate links for your convenience. Please see our full privacy and disclosure policy here.