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Ontario's Climate Change Program May Change The Housing Market

January 31, 2017

The Province of Ontario may well be the first in Canada to make Home Energy Audits mandatory when properties are put up for sale. It's all part of the overall climate change policy, and is bound to affect many Ontario homeowners. The fundamentals are basic - when a residential home is put up for sale, an Energy Auditor will have to be hired in order to assess the property and assign an Energy Rating (based on prescribed standards). The Energy Audit will also recommend various improvements, upgrades, and retrofits that can be implemented to enhance the Energy Rating. The idea behind it all is to encourage homeowners to invest in home energy improvements that will boost energy efficiency, and therefore reduce consumption. Additionally, the Energy Rating also allows property buyers to consider the home's energy profile and estimate potential energy costs going forward. In Ontario, through the Ministry of Energy, there is now deliberation about a program referred to as Home Energy Rating and Disclosure (HER&D). Programs like this are well in place throughout Europe, and the intention is to impose the same on the real estate industry. The Province of Ontario is committed to making changes when it comes to energy consumption. As such, millions of dollars are being focused on various retrofit programs, and the province will cover the cost of Energy Audits. In partnership with Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), a newly revised EnerGuide Rating System will better define energy consumption patterns. And as a result, there will be significant changes in home renovation spending. This means that energy efficiency improvements will inevitably become priorities over other, more cosmetic renovations. For those selling a home, a better energy rating means a better price from a buyer. But even for those who are not selling, they can better understand energy performance in their home, and can make improvements where deficiencies are compromising energy efficiency. The truth is, even the most basic upgrades and/or retrofits can reduce energy usage by up to 25%. And at the end of the year, the savings on heating and cooling start to mount. Oftentimes, depending on the work that a homeowner decides, the annual utility savings can offset the cost of doing the work. When an Energy Audit has been completed, a reliable insulation contractor can easily suggest the types of energy upgrades and retrofits that would be cost effective for the home. The work may include a combination of air sealing, weatherizing, and insulation, but whatever the plan, the idea is to ensure a good return-on-investment. With work completed, a home can be "energy rated" and ready for the real estate market. For those who are selling, the home would have an official energy profile as required. For those who aren't, the home will be significantly more efficient. All things considered, Ontario's initiative should do well in encouraging homeowners to improve their energy consumption patterns while reducing annual utility costs. All of this, while making a sustainable contribution to the dynamics of climate change.

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