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The Ultimate Guide to Planning a House Energy Retrofit Project

Are you considering renovating your home? Renovations can be a great way to improve the look and feel of your home, as well as increase its energy efficiency and value. However, if not done correctly, renovations can also be costly and time-consuming disasters. In this guide, we will walk you through the process of planning a house renovation project. We'll help you to understand the process, budget for it, find a good contractor, and prioritize which renovations are most important to you. Let's get started!

A deep energy retrofit is a comprehensive approach to upgrading a building's energy systems with the goal of significantly reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions.

By following a systematic process, a deep energy retrofit can significantly reduce a building's energy consumption and carbon emissions, while also improving the comfort and functionality of the building.

Steps to perform a retrofit diagram

The first step in a deep energy retrofit is to conduct a comprehensive Energy Rating of the building. Energy Ratings help homeowners, businesses and organizations understand their energy usage and identify ways to save energy, money and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The Energy Rating usually contains a snapshot of the building's energy performance, and recommendations for energy-efficiency upgrades.

Properate can provide an instant Energy Rating of your home thanks to its years of Building Science research.You may access the tool here. While this Rating is an estimate, it should give you an idea of your home's performance and available upgrade pathways.

A screenshot of properate remote energy evaluation report

The Rating can then be fine-tuned with a visit to your home by an Energy Advisor. In Canada, Energy Advisors are trained and approved under the EnerGuide program to help homeowners navigate incentive programs.

The Energy Advisor work can take weeks to complete; however, having the Properate report gives homeowners a head start in planning for upgrades. Homeowners quickly learn that time-efficiency and momentum make upgrades happen and Properate is there to help.

Once the Energy Rating is complete, the next step is to develop a plan for the retrofit. Homeowners may choose to do some or all the provided recommendations for improvements. These could be regarding the building envelope, such as adding insulation or sealing air leaks, as well as upgrading heating and cooling systems, installing energy-efficient appliances and lighting, and implementing other energy-saving measures.

The next step in any renovation project is to develop a realistic budget. Developing a realistic budget is a crucial step in any renovation project because it helps you plan for the financial resources you will need to complete the project. It is important to be as accurate as possible when estimating the cost of materials, labor, and any other necessary expenses, as this will help you avoid unexpected costs and delays. Budget should be constructed with consideration of available funds and Energy Rating reports by prioritizing the most efficient upgrades.

Renovations can be expensive, but there are often rebates available to help offset the cost. It's important to research what rebates are available and factor them into your renovation planning. Deep energy retrofits, for example, can qualify for significant rebates from utility companies and government agencies. Energy efficiency upgrades may also qualify for tax credits or other incentives. By incorporating these rebates into your planning, you can save a significant amount of money on your renovation.

For example, The Canada Greener Homes Grant is a great way to finance your home renovation. The program offers up to $45,600 of different incentives for energy-efficient home renovations, and you can use the money to cover things like insulation, windows and doors, or a new furnace. To apply, you'll need to get a quote from a contractor and submit it to the program. Once your application is approved, you'll receive the money in the form of a rebate and financing, which you can use to pay for your renovation.

Similarly, the newly introduced High-Efficiency Electric Home Rebate Act (HEEHRA) in the United States provides incentives for home energy upgrades through electrification.

A regional example is CleanBC, a program in British Columbia, that provides rebates to help homeowners, businesses, and organizations save energy and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. The program offers a range of rebates for a variety of energy-efficient products and technologies, including:

Overall, the CleanBC program aims to help British Columbia reduce its greenhouse gas emissions and transition to a low-carbon economy, while also helping homeowners and businesses save energy and reduce their energy costs.

One way in which Properate can help homeowners navigate the process of applying for rebates is by offering a free phone consultation service. During a free phone consultation, a Properate representative will discuss your renovation goals and budget with you, and will help you understand which rebates may be available to you. The representative can provide guidance on the application process, including any documentation you may need to provide, and can help you understand any deadlines or eligibility requirements. By taking the time to carefully plan and budget for your renovation project, you can ensure that you have the financial resources you need to complete the work and achieve your desired results. Finally, you should also include a contingency fund in your budget to cover any unexpected costs that may arise during the renovation process, for example scope changes,

Once you have a clear idea of how much you can afford to spend, you can start looking for a contractor.

Finding a contractor for a deep energy retrofit can be a challenging task, as it requires a contractor with specialized knowledge and experience in energy-efficient building practices. Here are a few steps you can take to find a qualified contractor for your deep energy retrofit project:

  1. Research: Begin by researching contractors who specialize in deep energy retrofits. Look for contractors who are certified by organizations such as the Building Performance Institute or the Home Performance with Energy Star program. These certifications indicate that the contractor has the knowledge and skills to perform deep energy retrofits.
  2. Ask for references: Contact the contractors you are considering and ask for references from previous customers who have had a deep energy retrofit completed by that contractor. Contact these references and ask about their experience working with the contractor.
  3. Check for insurance and licenses: Verify that the contractor is licensed and insured. This will ensure that you are protected in case something goes wrong during the retrofit.
  4. Get estimates: Once you've narrowed down your list of potential contractors, ask each one to provide an estimate for the project. This will give you an idea of the costs involved and allow you to compare the prices and services offered by each contractor.
  5. Review the Contractor's Proposal : Look carefully at the contractor's proposal and make sure to understand the scope of work and the timeline, also the payment schedule and how changes and extras will be handled.

By following these steps, you can help ensure that you find a qualified contractor who is capable of completing your deep energy retrofit to a high standard and within budget. Keep in mind that contractors can be in high-demand (specially seasonally) so persistence is key.

After the renovation is complete, you will need to perform another energy evaluation by an energy advisor. This is typically done to ensure that the renovation has improved the energy efficiency of the building and to verify that the building meets certain energy efficiency standards. This report will be used to certify the building for energy efficiency rebates, tax credits, or other incentives.

Properate can help you with all of this, from scheduling an Energuide evaluation to applying for the Canada Greener Homes Grant program. In addition to providing guidance on rebates, a Properate representative can also help you plan your renovation project, including identifying which energy-efficient products and technologies may be most suitable for your home. We can also provide recommendations for contractors and tradespeople, and can help you stay organized and on track as you work to achieve your enetgy efficiency goals.

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