Home energy audit program added at reThink Green in Sudbury due to high demand
Non-profit to launch home energy audit program in January to help homeowners access grants
ReThink Green, the non-profit organization in Sudbury, Ont., is getting in on the high demand for home energy audits.
The agency has hired a home energy auditor and will launch a corresponding program later this month.
"We've seen the demand for this for over a year now," said communications director Dave St Georges.
ReThink Green's other program, Green Economy North, works with businesses and municipalities in the northeast to help them find ways to reduce carbon emissions and find energy efficiencies. Georges said it only made sense to create a similar program for personal homes.
"We were already mentally aligned to transfer this to a home-based solution," he added. "Home energy audits are different which is why we need some fresh training, and to get some additional expertise in, especially for the home-focused unit."
When a registered energy auditor visits a home, the person conducts an initial assessment and then provides recommendations for retrofits or upgrades that could improve energy efficiency. Air sealing, ventilation, insulation, and the heating/cooling mechanisms are usually assessed.
At least one recommendation must be made to apply for and receive a grant, but Georges says that can depend on the grant itself. A non-profit like reThink Green will help the homeowner search for all possible community or government grants the homeowner can apply for. But they must make recommended upgrades or renovations first.
The cost for a home energy audit depends on the size of the home, and rebates could range from $400 to $5,000, depending on where the grant is coming from, and what retrofits the homeowner may have made.
"The federal government and the Ontario government do have opportunities, as well as privatized companies that have opportunities for grants, because it's just cost saving all around," he said.
The federal program Canada Greener Homes grant is what has led to the demand for home energy audits.
"If you have a home that's energy efficient then the utility company — it costs them less, it costs you less. Everybody wins by making your home efficient."
Keeping older homes intact
Georges said there's a big demand for registered home energy auditors across the country, but particularly in northern Ontario, where there are more older homes.
"We see a lot of older homes, homes built in the '70s or in the '40s, and the best way to keep that carbon sequestered is to maintain our older buildings," he said, adding that finding energy efficiencies is one of the best ways to ensure an older building stays intact.
"And to keep some of the history in our family. You know, no one wants to get rid of the old building. We want to make sure we build it stronger."
Georges also said reThink Green's plan to add a home energy auditor lines up with the City of Greater Sudbury's long-term environmental plan.
Ways to help Sudbury achieve 2050 goal
The community has a goal to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. The Community Energy and Emissions Plan (CEEP) was created following the adoption of city council's Climate Emergency declaration in May 2019.
The CEEP uses energy, emissions, land-use, and financial modelling to determine the community-wide efforts required to meet the net-zero emissions target.
On its website, the city has listed ways residents can help Greater Sudbury achieve its 2050 net zero goal. Those include:
- Make minor upgrades to your apartment or house, like switching to a programmable thermostat and energy efficient appliances that are ENERGY STAR® certified.
- If you're able to make bigger upgrades to your home, consider things like more efficient windows, furnace, and insulation.
In the meantime, Georges is excited about the opportunities the new home energy auditor and program will bring for reThink Green.
"We're looking at things from various angles — from homes of any income level and potentially expanding to [homes in] the outlying areas, depending on the success of the program, and looking at all different types of build both passive and new," he said.
"Our home energy auditor in-training is quite excited to get her boots on the ground."