While a light dusting of snow on the Wedge peak last week made
me think of the changing seasons, it’s actually a fellow with a large
vacuum-like device coming to visit who is really making me think about the
coming Whistler winter.
High heating and energy bills suck. They suck money out of your
pocket, heat out of your home and energy out of both the grid and the ground.
As we continue to talk about the new low-carbon economy and act together to
become leaner, more efficient citizens, there are proactive actions which can
be taken to be part of the solution. The first step starts at home.
Whistler Green, our community’s own green building guidelines,
is currently supporting a local Home Energy Grants program. By combining the
Home Assessment services of City Green Solutions (or other certified energy
assessment providers), the federal ecoENERGY retrofit program, and the
province's new LiveSmartBC initiative, Whistler homeowners now have access to
more than $5,000 in home energy efficiency grants. By getting involved in the
program, Whistler citizens find out the best strategies to make their
particular home more efficient and save money doing so.
To help folks get involved in the simple, three step program
the provincial government is subsidizing the first step, a baseline home energy
assessment. What used to cost $400 has, as a result of provincial support,
dropped to $150. This amount will be rebated back to you through the
program when you complete the follow up assessment. Use the summary report
compiled by the assessment provider as a tool to identify the most
cost-effective retrofits for your particular home.
With the support of the other four owners in my own five-unit
townhouse complex, we booked an assessment for the entire building. City Green
will visit Monday, Aug. 25 and carry out a two-hour per unit detailed analysis
of our property using all sorts of technical gadgetry.
In one of the tests, a large fan and pressure sensor is
attached to a main door of your home, all the windows and fireplaces are closed
tight and the hardware basically sucks the air out of your house revealing a
myriad of air coming in from outside that will cost you money come winter. They
then run the data they collect through a computer and produce a personalized
report packed with practical information about things that could be done to the
property, some of them at very little cost or inconvenience, to save energy and
Because the report is completed independent of any construction
firm or contractor, the homeowner is left with practical, expert advice
designed to allow minimal investment for maximum energy and cash savings. Many
folks consider replacing windows as an expensive retrofit, but without the
support of an assessment you could throw thousands of dollars out the new
windows when the best return on investment was a couple hundred bucks worth of
new weather stripping, basement insulation or some well-placed caulking.
It will take about a week to get the report back to complete
step one of the process. Step two begins with understanding the report and
acting on the energy saving recommendations contained within it. Homeowners
then have 18 months to complete any of the renovations or retrofits that
qualify for grants. After upgrades are completed, the third step is a follow-up
assessment (including another blower door) to demonstrate the level of
improvement achieved. You will get a new report which will show the
effectiveness of your eco-energy investments, City Green will give you a
certified EnerGuide Rating for your home and on your behalf will even apply to
the appropriate government agencies to access the grant money that you have
For example, if you add R23 insulation to 100 per cent of your
crawlspace, you would receive $800 from the feds, and an additional $520 from
the province; or go big and add a ground source heat pump to your place and
receive $3,500 from the feds, and another $1,250 from the province. Big or
small, any efficiency investment pays dividends over time.
So, my neighbours and I have taken the first step toward
increased energy efficiency for our complex. Hopefully we will save money,
increase the efficiency and comfort of our homes and collectively decrease the
greenhouse gas emissions our drafty building is now contributing to the
Watch for future Whistler2020 On the Ground columns over the
next couple weeks. Once we have our assessment reports I will share the
results, let you know what work we’re choosing to do, as well as summarize the
up-front cost, the total amount of grants available to us, and finally the net
cash and carbon benefit over the longer term.
For more information on the Whistler Green Home Energy
Grants program go to