Home renovation yields rent, rebate and peace of mind: Home Energy Story
Having long been aware of Reep Green Solutions through his time working at the University of Waterloo, Michael Strickland reached out to arrange for a home energy evaluation prior to his own renovation—and he’s glad he did.
Michael and his husband, Steve, live in a 2-storey detached home in Guelph’s Old University Neighbourhood. Built by Steve’s parents in 1959, Michael and Steve have owned the property since 2012 and undertook a large-scale renovation this past year in which 90% of the house has been redone. One of the main goals of the renovation was to create a rentable space on the second floor, through which income could be derived for further renovations and maintenance of the property.
“The monthly rent from the tenant is covering our mortgage and we’re hoping the remainder of our energy bills,” said Michael. “The rent is what’s allowed us to go forward with the rest of the project.”
By undergoing further renovations, Michael and Steve have elevated the efficiency and comfort of the rest of their home to a level that they hope will suit their needs for the next 20-30 years. In addition to redoing the house’s plumbing, kitchens, and bathrooms, etc., the renovation also involved several major improvements to energy efficiency. Specifically, 19 new windows were installed, as well as new insulation throughout the house, and a new furnace.
The resulting improvement in home comfort has been dramatic. Before the renovation, as Michael explained, “It was a case where in January you could put your hand up against the wall anywhere and you could feel the cold. On a breezy day you could feel the breeze coming through the windows.”
His in-laws had attempted to combat this problem by installing a more powerful furnace, but he and Steve recognized that improving insulation was a far more effective strategy.
They also switched to a type of furnace that is particularly useful given their newfound renting capacity; called a TrueZONE furnace, it allows their tenant to control both the heat and A/C in her unit separately from the rest of the house. Michael imagines that this feature will lead to even greater energy efficiency in the summer, when the upstairs might require more air conditioning than downstairs and vice versa with heating in the winter.
All told, the post-renovation energy evaluation found that the home’s EnerGuide rating had increased from 63 to 74, thanks to the furnace replacement, insulation work, and new windows. This garnered a rebate cheque of $2,965, a welcome reward for a job well done! These improvements also resulted in a 27% reduction in energy consumption, keeping 3.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent out of the atmosphere each year.
Although Michael and Steve were already well aware that new windows and insulation should be part of their home improvement, they found the pre- and post-renovation home energy evaluations to be extremely helpful in terms of confirming the viability of recommendations made by their contractors—such as the newfangled furnace. They also confirmed the effectiveness of the changes they made after the renovations were complete.
As Michael said, “The real benefit to us was having a third party confirm that the decisions we were making with the builders were good ones and then later when we saw the actual results.”
Michael hopes that by sharing his story, more homeowners will become aware of the opportunity to get a rebate by having a home energy evaluation done.
“Whether the motivation is the cheque or the peace of mind, I can’t see anybody regretting it,” says Michael. “The more people understand the value of this the more they’d be willing to do it. There’s no downside.”
In terms of their own renovation, all that’s left is to fix up the family room in which Michael and Steve had been living while the rest of the house was under construction. As a newer addition to the original home, this room’s need for improvement isn’t as great. But the plan is to improve its energy efficiency even further by replacing windows, updating insulation, and spraying foam insulation around the rim joist—an additional recommendation made by the Reep Green Solutions advisor.
As any homeowner is well aware, there’s always something more that can be done to save energy and money, meanwhile increasing your home’s efficiency!
Written by: Kristin Koetsier
Edited by: Christine Tan