What is your best retrofit strategy? Firstly, determine what shape your house is in and what can be done to improve it. For example, check the interior and exterior for signs of moisture damage and structural problems and maintenance and repair needs. Consider renovation opportunities, the level and condition of insulation, air leakage paths, and the age and condition of mechanical systems. Although each house is unique, here are some typical home retrofit opportunities.
Typical Home Retrofit Opportunities
- Most houses will benefit from air leakage control, moisture control and ventilation to reduce the chance of condensation problems.
- Insulate a poorly insulated attic.
- Add insulation to an empty frame wall.
- Insulate the basement. If the insulation can be combined with water proofing on the exterior or finishing the interior, it will be even more worthwhile.
- Once building envelope upgrades are complete, it may be worthwhile to install a smaller capacity, high efficiency heating system, which may offer substantial savings.
- Many houses will benefit from a complete heating system tune-up, including the distribution system and controls.
- Make the most of repairs and renovations. Almost all home improvements can have an energy efficient component piggybacked onto the work, such as adding additional insulation behind new siding.
- Retrofitting may offer the best opportunity to upgrade the wiring and electrical service. Many older homes have outdated, inadequate or unsafe electrical systems, and renovations may offer the perfect opportunity to upgrade your electrical system. You may need utility and building permits for this job, so check with your local authorities.
Seek Professional Advice to Assess Your Home’s Energy Improvement Potential
A professional energy evaluation service is the best way to assess your home’s energy improvement potential. An energy advisor certified by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) evaluates your home from the attic down to the foundation, including a measurement of your insulation levels and a blower door test to determine air tightness. You will receive a personalized report, including a checklist of recommended retrofits to improve overall energy efficiency, as well as an EnerGuide rating so you can compare the energy efficiency of your home with other homes. Your local utility may also offer this service or other assistance.
Natural Resources Canada’s Office of Energy Efficiency offers this guide to educate on basic principles of building science and to provide guidance in home retrofit projects such as insulation and air sealing improvements.
Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) seeks to enhance the responsible development and use of Canada’s natural resources and the competitiveness of Canada’s natural resources products.