‘You have to make sure you’re keeping heat in the house first’
TRURO – Residents in Colchester County could be doing better when it comes to energy efficiency.
That’s coming from Donald Dodge, lead advisor in communications and development for Efficiency Nova Scotia.
“Things are going great with residents, but it could be better,” said Dodge during a stop in Truro on Wednesday. “We’re anxious to get more people involved in all the programs offered.”
In 2013, 146 homeowners in Colchester County took advantage of the home energy assessments where they received expert advice on how to reduce their energy usage, in turn saving some money.
“Those numbers, to us, are relatively low,” Dodge said, noting about 77 of those homeowners completed upgrades that were recommended based on the assessment’s findings.
“That really is money in their pockets, and having come through the winter we just had, energy usage was probably top of mind for a lot of people.”
Dodge said the most common problems for heat loss in a residence has to deal with air sealing and insulating, and he said the number one question he gets at home shows, including the recent one in Truro, is about heating pumps.
“You have to make sure you’re keeping heat in the house first,” he said. “If the heat pump has to run all the time to keep up with the heat loss, then your savings aren’t going to be there.”
When it comes to the no-cost efficiency upgrades available to low income earners, Dodge said 180 homeowners utilized the services.
“Those that fall within the federal government’s bracket of low income would receive that home assessment for free, the assessment would come back to us and we would issue a work order,” he said.
The work was then done by a contractor at no cost to the homeowner.
“On average, low income homeowners that use electric heat will see a savings of about $570 a year, while those that heat with oil will see about $1,100 in savings.”
He said seniors could see significant savings, especially those still living in older homes.
“There have been some amazing stories. We’ve been able to reduce some by as much as 50 per cent. When you have seniors living on a fixed income, if you can save them a tank of oil a year, that’s money that they’ll have to spend in their local communities.”
On the commercial side of things, Dodge said businesses have really been taking advantage of programs, including 40 small businesses that collectively have reduced consumption by about 356,000kWh, or $50,000.
“That’s enough electricity to power around 350 Truro homes for one year,” he added.
Through a strategic energy management program, there are five major businesses in the province working with Efficiency Nova Scotia.
“We’re working with larger companies to make energy efficiency a part of the culture,” he said. “Of those five major businesses, three are in Truro. They’re doing some really great stuff and they’re just starting.”
Some additional offerings through Efficiency Nova Scotia:
- A home energy report: homeowners can sign up for the report, which comes out every two months, that compares their energy usage to 99 similar homes in their area. It gives a rank of where the homeowner falls within all 100 homes, and also gives ideas on reducing energy further.
- All residents, including tenants, can utilize a direct install program that sees Efficiency Nova Scotia replace all light bulbs in the home to energy efficient ones, insulate the water heater and pipes, as well as replace showerheads and taps to low-flow.
- Refrigerator and appliance pick up: Disposing of refrigerators and other large appliances is easy with Efficiency Nova Scotia picking it up for you. Items will be transported to Dartmouth, where they are dismantled and chemicals are recovered and disposed of. The appliance is then recycled. An added bonus: Efficiency Nova Scotia gives residents a $30 rebate.
- Instant savings program: numerous stores, including hardware and building supply stores, mark down energy efficient appliances upon purchase.