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EnerGuide Tips

Custom Vac Offers Homeowers an Option to Rising Home Energy Bills

Winnipeg, MB, March 7, 2000 - Brian Baker, said today that with energy prices on the rise again and a hot summer fast approaching, it is imperative that homeowners to consider the big picture when spending their renovation dollars.

Baker, president of Custom Vac Limited has been participating with the EnerGuide for Houses Program a Federal Government initiative designed to educate and improve homeowner comfort, reduce energy use, save money on energy bills, offer a plan to include energy efficiency upgrades when renovating and allow comparisons when buying a home.

The EnerGuide Program is conducted through an Independent Energy Evaluator who is trained and experienced to perform a whole-house audit. "The program has been just great for our customers" said Baker. Since August, 1999, Custom Vac Limited has participated in the EnerGuide of Houses Program to educate customers how proper furnace sizing, ventilation requirements and serious issues such as depressurization of homes can affect their health, comfort, energy costs and safety.

Program Results

A few results from The EnerGuide for Houses Program, as of November 25, 1999 were:

  • The average home in Manitoba is 61% efficient in terms of energy efficiency.
  • The highest score was 78% and lowest 27%.
  • Homeowners following through with the recommended energy efficiency upgrades could see an average estimated savings of 22% or $376.00 per year.
  • Baker said, "I doubt that the average Canadian knows that 82% of their homes energy bill is for space heating, comfort cooling and domestic hot water use."
  • (GHG) greenhouse gas emission projections for 2000 were approximately 68 metric tones. A breakdown of total residential (CO2) carbon dioxide emissions is; space heating 59.9%, cooling 0.4% and domestic water heating 22.1%.
  • In 1995 GHG represented 12% of all Canada's emissions.

Homeowners following the recommended renovation and retrofit suggestions by increasing the efficiency of their homes, meeting the new energy targets has the potential to reduce CO2 emissions by 2.9 metric tones/house/year. Items such as basement insulation and air leakage were amongst the two top items with the largest savings opportunity. Replacing the heating appliance indicated savings of 18-31%, significant when you consider that the Canadian average for space heating was 61.1%.

"The House as System"

"No mater what kind of (HVAC) heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems that homeowners have, they can save money and increase comfort by properly maintaining and upgrading their equipment", said Baker. But it should be emphasized that installing an energy-efficient furnace alone, for instance will not have as great an impact on energy bills as taking a whole-house approach. The whole house approach commonly referred to a "The House as a System" takes into consideration all aspects of the home and how each system within that home interacts with each other.

"It's critical that homeowners deal with a contractor who understands building science and "The House as a System" said Baker. The complexity of today's HVAC systems requires that technicians understand the interaction of systems with homes today and failure to hire companies that do not have these trained and qualified technicians often results in serious health and safety issues for the occupants.

By hiring a professional Contractor and combining proper equipment maintenance and upgrades, with appropriate insulation, weatherization, and thermostat settings, homeowners can cut their energy bills, and their pollution output.

"We're proud to be associated with the EnerGuide for Houses Program, its important to us and our customers" said Baker.

Energy Saving Tips - A Baker's Dozen

The following are some energy-saving heating and cooling tips that Baker suggests:

1.  Set your thermostat to a lower temperature in the winter when the home is unoccupied or at night, and as higher in the summer.

You need not be uncomfortable setting back for only part of the day without sacrificing comfort can result in savings of 10% of the heating load and 25% of the cooling load. Significant when you think of how simple a manual task this is. Programmable thermostats that automatically setback and raise the temperature are available even with intelligent heat recovery. These thermostats take energy savings to next level by choosing the best way in which to bring the temperature back to the desired comfort level.

2.  Clean or replace the air filters once a month or as needed. Regular cleaning of air filters can result in savings of the heating load by 3%.

Homeowners need to be careful when purchasing air filters as the Industry is still attempting to regulate to one standard that would make comparisons easier. Air filters are made up of many different combinations and efficiency data can be deceiving, so speak with an HVAC contractor that you can trust and feel comfortable with. The key though is doing your homework because that $20.00 or $150.00 filter may not do all that the salesperson said it would.

3.  Clean ducts, warm air registers, baseboard heaters and radiators as needed. Make sure that they're not blocked by furniture, carpeting or drapes.

Good air distribution is one of the key factors to maintaining a comfortable environment.

4.  Bleed trapped air from hot-water radiators once or twice a season.

If in doubt about how to do this, consult with a contractor to show you how to perform basic homeowner maintenance.

5.  Use heat reflectors behind radiators to reflect the heat back into the room where the added heat will improve comfort.

6.  Use source exhaust fans such as kitchen range fans, bathroom fans and all other ventilation fans wisely.

In just one hour, these fans can pull out a large quantity of warmed or cooled air. Ventilation air in a home can contribute to as much as ¼ of the homes space heating energy costs. Shutting off exhaust fans as soon as they have done their job will result in better control of the energy wasted.

Homeowners should, when upgrading ventilation systems consider installing heat recovery and energy recovery ventilators. These types of systems have become the standard in new housing due to better overall indoor comfort and energy cost savings. If you are simply upgrading an existing fan make sure that you select one with a low (sonnes) sound level rating, new fans are available that are exceptionally quiet, they cost more but worth the money.

7.  During the heating season, keep draperies and shades on south-facing windows open during the day to allow warm sunlight to enter the home, during the summer keep the window coverings closed to keep the heat out during the day.

8.  When replacing windows consider ones that are rated as LowE. You should also consider windows that incorporate heat mirror technology these windows let heat in but not out and your unobstructed view can be preserved. Awnings can help existing windows be more efficient by filtering out heat yet allowing light in. Awnings can decrease air conditioner size by one size.

9.  Select energy efficient appliances and look for EnerGuide labels.

10.  Using only cold-water washes can save 88% and using full loads can save 10% (% of clothes washer and water heater energy). Using clotheslines to dry clothes can save 25% and doing only full loads can save 40% (% of clothes dryers energy).

Conducting your own home energy audit will reveal many areas that you can improve upon without sacrificing comfort, convenience and lifestyle.

11.  Plant trees to provide a windbreak and to shade your homes windows and walls. It will also help the environment.

12.  Install energy saving devices such as low flush toilets and showerheads.

13.  Showerheads available at most hardware stores use up to 1/3 less hot water. Check the drips too: one drop every hour from your hot water faucet can add up to plenty of baths over the season. These items can result in a savings of 30% (of the water heating load). When replacing your water heater take the time to get the facts there are better more efficient water heaters available.

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