As frigid temperatures continue to grip the province, NB Power says homeowners should consider taking advantage of a rebate program that encourages people to upgrade their insulation and save money on electricity.

The home insulation energy savings program offers homeowners incentives to increase the R-value of their attics, walls and basements to make their homes more energy-efficient.

NB Power said it hopes at least 4,100 customers and non-NB Power customers will sign up for the program, which will run for three years.  

"In the long-term, if we reduce our energy consumption, then over, say, 25 years, if we reduce our energy consumption by 600 megawatts for example, then it's a cost avoidance," said Diane Spencer, the residential program lead for NB Power's energy efficiency services.  

"We wouldn't have to invest the money into a new power plant, for example."   

On average, she said, a homeowner can save from $700 to $1,000 a year and receive $1,800 back through a rebate on the costs of the insulation work.

One major upgrade could make the homeowner eligible for a $500 heat pump bonus on certain models purchased from NB Power.

The amount of money NB Power will pay for insulation would be based on the existing insulation's R-value, a measure of a material's resistance to heat.

How does it work?

When New Brunswick homeowners register, an energy adviser will come to the home and determine what the existing levels of insulation are in a person's basement, walls or attic. The adviser will also assess a home's air leakage through a blower door test.

The initial assessment takes between one to three hours and costs $99 plus HST, she said.

Spencer said the assessment cost would come out of the homeowners' pockets, but they would receive energy-efficient products such as LED bulbs, pipe wrap and low-flow shower heads.

'A new home just built to the basic building code is not nearly as energy efficient as it could be.' - Diane Spencer

An energy adviser would then provide a report with potential upgrades for insulation and to decrease air leakage.

Homeowners would have five months to complete their upgrades to ensure they're done for the next heating season.

When an upgrade is finished, an NB Power energy adviser returns to the home to determine what was done and how much was achieved. 

"Then you will get an incentive in the mail from NB Power and you also receive energy savings," Spencer said. 

Newer homes need to be energy-efficient 

For the next three years, the total budget for the program is $44 million, which is being invested by NB Power. The utility also received $51 million from the low carbon economy leadership fund.

This latest version of the home insulation program is designed for existing homes in the province but in the future, NB Power hopes to have a new homes construction program that would encourage New Brunswickers to build homes that are more energy-efficient, with better insulation, a high efficiency heat pump and very little air leakage.

"A new home just built to the basic building code is not nearly as energy efficient as it could be," she said.