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Comfort and energy savings: One person's story
by: NC
(NC) - Faced with rising energy bills and an uncomfortable home, Alex Nilsson decided it was time to take action. She turned to the EnerGuide for Houses Program, which was launched in 1998 by Natural Resources Canada's Office of Energy Efficiency, for help. Three years later, she acknowledges that her $150 investment in an EnerGuide for Houses evaluation was a great way to get started.

An expert energy advisor visited Ms. Nilsson's 185-square-metre brick home, collected data about its energy-using equipment, insulation and building envelope, and performed a mechanical test to find air leaks. The advisor then used energy-modelling software to assess different upgrades and identify some cost-effective solutions that would suit her budget.

"For me, the best part of the experience was just getting the opportunity to go through the house with the advisor. He had technical knowledge and a lot of experience with older homes," recalls Ms. Nilsson, whose house was built in 1915. "He was able to spend some time with me discussing what I needed to do in the short and long term, and he explained my best options."

The advisor left Ms. Nilsson with a detailed report that prioritized a number of recommended improvements, including extensive air leakage control and the replacement of many of the home's old, single-pane windows. He also gave her a label showing that her house scored 40 out of 100 on the EnerGuide for Houses energy efficiency scale, typical for an older, un-renovated home.

After investing about $6,000 in sealing air leaks and installing six new energy-efficient windows, Ms. Nilsson asked the advisor to perform a follow-up evaluation. She was pleased to find that her home now rated 57 out of 100 on the EnerGuide for Houses scale, meaning that it was using a lot less energy and producing fewer greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

"The next winter my energy use went down by about 20 percent, but the real bonus was comfort," Ms. Nilsson says. "I had no idea how much the air leaks were affecting my comfort level. The new windows have made a great difference too. I can actually sit beside the window in February without feeling cold."

To encourage more people like Ms. Nilsson to use the EnerGuide for Houses service, the Government of Canada recently announced an incentive program that will allow eligible homeowners to recoup some of their investment when they implement recommended improvements. Under the new initiative, energy efficiency improvements like those undertaken by Ms. Nilsson would qualify for an incentive of $801. The incentive is part of Canada's strategy for implementing the Kyoto Protocol, which calls for significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions across Canada.

For more information about the incentive program or to locate a licensed EnerGuide for Houses agent in your area, visit energuideforhouses.gc.ca or call 1 800 387-2000 (toll-free) or 995-2943 in the National Capital Region.

- News Canada

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