In this article, we're covering three ways to get started on energy efficient home projects. These tips are ideal for individuals who want to boost their home's energy efficiency before cold weather hits.

Start by looking at your attic and basement, as these are areas that may not be well-insulated. Next, look at your windows and doors. Use an expanding-foam sealant or acrylic-latex caulk to plug cracks, holes, and open seams and stop air from leaking into the home. Then ask yourself these questions: Is there weather stripping installed?  Is it in good condition, or is it cracking or peeling?  Can you see the outside around your door? Can you feel cold air coming in? Answering these can help you address some of the places where cold air is getting in.

Making upgrades to your home has many benefits, including improving energy efficiency and saving money on your energy bill. You'll also improve the comfort of your home, making it more pleasant and comfortable to spend time in once winter hits. Because every home is different, an energy efficient home project can vary from one house to the next, resulting in a warmer, more efficient home.

NB Power’s Total Home Energy Savings program starts with an energy evaluation to help you better understand what needs to be done. The program offers incentives as well as help in completing your project.

In this how-to article, we help you figure out how to begin your energy efficient home project, but we also cover some of the basics to help you work out what's suitable for your home, even if you rent. 

Register & complete the evaluation

The initial energy evaluation by NB Power will take approximately two to three hours, depending on the size and age of your home. The advisor will take measurements and document existing insulation, heating, cooling, and ventilation systems. They will also complete a blower door test to measure air leakage.

This audit goes into detail on your home's energy use. The advisor goes room-to-room to assess the whole house and may also do a thermographic scan. Another essential part of the assessment is looking at the residents' behavior and their daily activities. All this will help to determine how your home can be improved.

Finding the right advisor involves registering for the Total Home Energy Savings Program. Registration is easy; just click here to access the form. Once registered, a certified energy advisor will be in touch to book your evaluation.

Once you've had your evaluation, you will receive a list of suggestions within four weeks. Consider this your plan for energy efficiency renovations!

Prioritize energy improvements that make the most sense

Following your home energy evaluation, you'll need to decide which energy improvements make the most sense. The evaluation report will explain which upgrades will make the most significant impact on your home's energy efficiency. For example, insulating your basement instead of replacing windows might be more cost-effective and have a greater impact on your heating costs.

Often, a lack of insulation is why your home is losing heat and letting the cold in. You might see an R-value when looking at insulation — this is the measure of heat flow. The higher the R-value, the more effective the insulation. However, that doesn't mean your home needs the highest R-value possible. It depends on how and where the insulation is installed.

Draft proofing your home is often inexpensive and can occur alongside other improvements. Window caulking is the first step in this process. However, it should also happen around doorframes, recessed ceiling lighting, and any other areas where heat could escape your home. Foam gaskets behind switches and plugs can help too. A key part of draft proofing is weatherstripping of doors and windows to make sure they create a tight seal.

Your contractor can provide an estimate of how long each recommendation might take, as some projects are more disruptive than others. 

If your budget is limited, look at doing the upgrades that offer the most bang for your buck. You can always use your evaluation report to guide your future projects as well.

Budgeting

The amount you need to spend to make your home more energy efficient depends on your home and the type of work required. However, NB Power’s incentives can help you with the cost of your project. 

Here are a couple of examples to give you an idea of what you can expect:

Multi-part project on a Saint John home

Many upgrades were made to this family home, including increasing the attic and sloped ceiling insulation, installing a pellet stove and a cold climate mini-split heat pump, plus air sealing around windows and doorframes.

The total cost was $10,654, with an incentive from NB Power of $3,795, bringing the cost to the owners down to $6,859. The estimated annual savings from this work is $615 per year.

Simple insulation project on a 1960s home

This 900 square-foot home in Campbellton had a completely uninsulated basement. Insulation was added to the basement walls and header to improve energy efficiency.

The total cost was $3,260, with an incentive from NB Power of $1,860, bringing the cost to the owners down to $1,400.

Insulating a 100-year-old Perth-Andover home

This 1,000 square-foot home had no insulation in the main level walls, causing it to lose a significant amount of heat. Improving the home's efficiency involved adding insulation to the walls on the main floor.

The total cost was $6,100, with an incentive from NB Power of $1,800, bringing the cost to the owners down to $4,300. The estimated annual savings from this work is $2,000 per year. In a little over two years this investment will be paid back, and these homeowners will have an extra $2,000 in their pockets!

The incentives from NB Power make a huge difference here. When budgeting for your project, make sure to consider incentives you may be eligible for.

What if you rent?

If you rent your home or apartment and you notice that it is drafty or hard to keep warm, speak to your landlord about making it more energy efficient and provide the link to NB Power’s Total Home Energy Savings Program. There are lots of benefits regardless of who pays the energy bill.  More comfortable tenants means less turnover and lower energy bills for tenants or landlords, and a more energy-efficient building will appeal to future renters.

Making your property more efficient doesn't need to be a complex process. Everything begins with the Home Energy Evaluation. Learn how to get started at SaveEnergyNB.