Understanding Ontario’s CCAP
The Ontario government’s Climate Change Action Plan is a 5-year initiative aimed at effectively fighting the reality of climate change. Climate change throughout North America is affecting the environment as a whole – and not in a good way. As such, Ontario residents can make a difference by contributing to a lower-carbon economy. Indeed, Ontario is very well positioned to offer the options and opportunities that will best improve energy consumption and energy-efficiency.
The CCAP initiative has been designed to encourage homeowners, as well as businesses, to make meaningful changes to both energy consumption patterns and personal lifestyle habits. To this end, substantial government funding is being directed at everything from clean transportation to energy improving retrofits. The principal idea, of course, is to educate Ontarians to choose energy efficient alternatives in every aspect of daily life. Big picture, greenhouse gases will be decreased.
The role of the homeowner
For homeowners, every effort to improve energy efficiency is integral. The fact is, everyone is an energy consumer, especially in a residential home. And with energy costs ever increasing, energy efficiency improvements simply make good economic sense. Simply put, when a home is energy efficient, less energy is consumed and fewer dollars are spent. The good news is that plenty can be done, and all with good outcomes.
From air sealing, to weather proofing, to high performance insulation, homeowners have a range of upgrades that can be implemented in the home. The main objective for most is to ensure that the “building envelope” is effectively airtight and suitably insulated. This will invariably provide energy efficiency throughout the home, and will reduce energy consumption season to season, while saving dollars on utilities.
Beginning with an Energy Audit, homeowners can decide which retrofit or upgrade will offer the best return-on-investment, and allow for the most meaningful savings on annual energy costs. For many, home energy upgrades (and even more substantial renovations) will provide far better benefits than conventional home improvements that are rather cosmetic – such as bathrooms, kitchens, and walk-in closets.
Time for an action plan
Although many homeowners might choose to focus on home insulation when trying to improve energy efficiency, it’s really only part of the solution. For insulation experts, however, the first step is to arrest air leakage throughout the home. This approach has proven to be very impactful as an initial step prior to insulating. Sealing a “building envelope” airtight will ensure that air leakage is prevented – it means that warm air stays inside during winter and cool air stays inside in summer. In short, less seasonal energy is consumed and heating and cooling costs are reduced.
Blower Door Testing
Blower door tests are key when planning energy efficiency improvements in a home. The results of the test will define the need and scope of potential retrofits, upgrades, and even renovations. Only certified energy advisors can expedite a blower door test. These are trained technicians who will perform the test, gather and assess the data, and propose remedies that will deliver results within a cost effective project budget. Certified Energy Advisors are duly recognized by NRCan (National Resources Canada) and are qualified to do the testing, assess, and report their findings.
Weatherizing is one of the more basic improvement efforts with regard to energy efficiency. In situations where cold drafts or patchy heating makes things uncomfortable, weatherproofing can be a simple and straightforward approach, and extremely cost effective for the budget. Again, the idea is to stop undesirable air leakage – something that can waste substantial amounts of energy when winter heating and summer cooling is simply escaping. An astute approach to weatherizing will effectively remedy air leakage, improve energy efficiency, and save valuable utility dollars.
Retrofit Drill and Fill
Retrofit “drill and fill” is an innovative approach to re-insulating residential homes (whether old or new). It’s an ideal remedy for keeping warm air inside during the winter and keeping cooled air inside during the summer. The “drill and fill” approach can effectively insulate existing walls (both interior and exterior). Essentially, small holes are drilled into a wall, and loose fill cellulose insulation is blown into the cavities. Once completed, everything is patched and restored. For any walls that are cold to touch, retrofit “drill and fill” is the perfect solution to upgrade insulation.
For optimal home energy efficiency, attics have to be well sealed and properly insulated. When done professionally, seasonal energy costs will be lessened, and home comfort much enhanced. Today, many professionals are recommending spray foam insulation for attics. Spray foam will create a seamless “blanket” that will seal and insulate simultaneously. This “blanket” will prevent air leakage and moisture collection, while providing R-Values that are higher than comparable products on the market. Energy efficiency is maximized, and heating/cooling bills are reduced.
Basement insulation is one of the best returns-on-investment for a homeowner. Energy efficiency is dramatically enhanced because airflow and air moisture are averted, and thermal insulation stops heat loss. Professionally installed, spray foam insulation throughout a basement space will provide high performance and home comfort at the same time. For professionals in the industry, spray foam is a favourite because it does more in one application than anything comparable. Here again the basement must be well sealed, insulation expertly installed, and the space ventilated.
Whatever the intended upgrade or retrofit, it’s best for energy efficiency work to be performed by a professional. The various products and installations require expertise, and an amateur effort is unlikely to deliver the same results. This is work for experts, who have the right type of experience, and who know how to troubleshoot when problems arise. And while a homeowner might opt for a DIY (do-it-yourself) approach in order to save some money in the short term, the long-term results may suffer. Energy efficiency improvements are worth doing right the first time – with high performance products and with quality installations that will guarantee results.