PEI

Bringing Home Savings: Audit is first step to reducing your home energy costs

Josh Silver wants to prove to P.E.I. homeowners that there are ways they can save energy — and money — by making their living spaces more efficient.

New series will track one P.E.I. homeowner's quest to save energy and money

Why an energy audit is the first step in reducing home energy costs

7 days ago
3:01
'I think it is the most important step in retrofitting your home and I think, unfortunately, it's often overlooked,' said Josh Silver, learning manager for the heritage retrofit carpentry program at Holland College. 3:01

Josh Silver wants to prove to P.E.I. homeowners that there are ways they can save energy — and money — by making their living spaces more efficient.

"I'd like to teach the public that it's really important to be energy-efficient with our homes," said Silver, who's the learning manager for the heritage retrofit carpentry program at Holland College. 

"I think everybody would like to save money, and what I'd like to show is there's a very science-based way of going about that, where you can get the most bang for your buck." 

Silver is going to take CBC P.E.I. along on his personal quest to make improvements at his 12-year-old Charlottetown home.

Josh Silver is going to take CBC P.E.I. along on his personal quest to make improvements at his 12-year-old Charlottetown home. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

"I would suggest this home is very typical of the modern homes that are being built in the past decade or two," Silver said.

"So I thought it would be a perfect opportunity to come to my home because I'm actually going through those energy retrofits as we speak." 

'Most important step'

Silver said he will do some tasks himself over the course of the project, and demonstrate how other people can too. For other alterations, he will bring in experts.

To start the process, Silver had an energy audit done on his home. 

"I think it is the most important step in retrofitting your home and I think, unfortunately, it's often overlooked," Silver said. 

"So I want to build a good argument for why you should be doing that."

The home energy audit includes a blower door test, that helps to measure air leakage and can even pinpoint the exact locations of leaks. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

Silver said energy audits can be booked through two providers on the Island. Homeowners can plan to pay $99, plus HST, with the rest of the cost automatically covered by EfficiencyPEI.

EfficiencyPEI says the number of home energy audits done across the Island has grown over last three years, both for existing homes and new houses being constructed.

The number of pre-retrofit audits jumped from 739 in 2018 to more than 1,102 last year.

Andy Collier, manager of programs and services with EfficiencyPEI, said he welcomes the effort to raise awareness about home energy audits. 

"The energy audit, the report, the process of having the energy audit done, is a very useful tool," Collier said.

Josh Silver, shown with Andy Collier and Dave Glennie, calls the home energy audit 'the most important step in retrofitting your home.' (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

"The knowledge, and the ability to make an informed decision after you have the energy audit, more than pays for the cost and the small amount of time you have to put in to have an energy audit done." 

Collier said there also were 153 audits done on plans for new homes being built on P.E.I. in 2020, and, as with retrofits, he expects that number will continue to grow. 

A lot of people don't realize how much energy is lost through air leakage; they're thinking of how much insulation you have.- Dave Glennie

"They're heavily subsidized, they're very inexpensive, and they're worth every penny, so I've done that," Silver said.

"The beauty is it's very scientific, very science-approached. 'Here's what's wrong with your home. Here's how to fix it. Here's what's not wrong with your home. Here's why you probably shouldn't spend any money in that area as well.'" 

Measuring air leaks

The energy audit Silver had done included a blower door test, designed to measure overall air leakage and pinpoint the exact locations of leaks by propelling high-powered air into a house and tracking where it goes.

Dave Glennie uses an infrared camera to look for air leakage around an attic hatch. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

"A lot of people don't realize how much energy is lost through air leakage; they're thinking of how much insulation you have," said Dave Glennie, learning manager with the energy systems engineering technology Program at Holland College.

"As much as a quarter of the energy loss in a home can be lost through air leakage, especially in an older house."

Silver said at the end of the series, he will be able to share exactly what his expenses have been, and how much money he is now saving.

Later this month: Josh Silver tackles his first refit job after seeing the results of his energy audit. 

More from CBC P.E.I.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nancy Russell has been a reporter with CBC since 1987, in Whitehorse, Winnipeg, Toronto and Charlottetown. When not on the job, she spends her time on the water or in the gym rowing, or walking her dog. Nancy.Russell@cbc.ca

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