People looking to make their homes energy efficient can get a little help from the Town.
The Town of Okotoks has launched an energy conservation rebate pilot program.
One side of the program allows homeowners to sign out energy audit kits free-of-charge from the municipal office.
“There are some guidelines and helpful information on how to use the gadgets so you can do these audits yourself and find out where to spend your money to improve your energy score,” said Okotoks interim environment and sustainability co-ordinator Stefan Martensson.
The kits can be booked online at www.okotoks.ca and can be taken from Friday to Thursday. Though they are free, residents will be asked for credit card information or a utility number in case of lost or damaged items, he said.
The second part of the Town’s program involves offering rebates to homeowners who hire a professional energy auditor to assess their home, he said. There are 34 rebates available. The first 10 homeowners who apply for the rebate will receive $300, which covers the entire cost of an audit, he said. The next eight will receive $250 off, the next six will get $200 off, and the last 10 will receive $100 toward their audit.
“You can do this at the same time as well,” said Martensson. “You can have the professional auditor in your home while you have the kit, and some of the auditors are willing to help our residents understand what they actually see with the thermal camera and so on.”
A professional auditor will provide a 10 to 15-page report detailing every aspect of a home’s energy loss, he said.
While having a home audited may not result in immediate reduction in heat loss or monetary savings, Martensson said it can provide valuable knowledge.
“You’ll know what the issues are and how to mitigate them, so maybe the next step is to change out the windows or add insulation in the attic,” he said. “They’ll provide the best-bang-for-your-buck suggestions in their reports of what you can do for your home.”
The Town is also renewing its subscription to MyHEAT in 2017.
The program uses thermal imaging from a fly-over of Okotoks in October 2016 to show where individual homes are losing heat. The program allows homeowners to see what may need to be repaired or replaced – such as windows or insulation – to make homes more energy efficient and reduce their carbon footprint.
Residents will be able to compare their results from 2016 and see if any home improvements done have made a difference, said Martensson.
Darren Jones, chief operating officer of MyHEAT, said this year’s fly-over will be done within the next few weeks. It’s important to do the thermal imaging in either the spring or fall, and when rooftops are dry, he said.
“We want the house to be warmer than it is outside so we can capture any heat loss that much more accurately,” said Jones. “And we want the roof to be bare because if it’s wet or if there’s any snow on it, that can change how it shows up on our imaging and won’t give a true result.”
The fly-over is usually completed in one night, but can only be done when it isn’t too windy and there is no forecast for precipitation, he said.
Since launching with Okotoks one year ago, MyHEAT has spread to 500,000 buildings in Calgary, Edmonton, Airdrie and Sherwood Park, he said. In the next year they’ll be looking to expand north to Grande Prairie, Fort Mac, Fort Saskatchewan and Cold Lake, and south to Lethbridge, he said.
“What we’re really trying to do is just start the conversation on home efficiency,” said Jones. “We’re really passionate about reducing greenhouse gases. We never propose we’re a one-stop shop for seeing how efficient your house is, but we want to start the conversation and then the rest of that process can be up to the homeowner.”
He said MyHEAT is looking forward to seeing what comes of provincial and federal programs currently being discussed that may offer further rebates for people making their homes more energy efficient.
“We just think if everybody can make their home more energy efficient then that solves a lot of problems for us, and not just in Alberta, but in Canada and across the world,” said Jones.