Home Energy Efficiency – Feb 2015

The importance and value of a well functioning, energy-optimized home is not front of mind for many of us. A home, condo, apartment or any living space is an asset and a necessity, possessing certain items and fittings that ensure your comfort. Many of these use electricity and other resources like Natural Gas, or both. You pay for this! Luckily for you, the Energy Managers and Energy Auditors are on your side. Energy Managers and Auditors think of how well your space uses resources and communicates this to you in a format that you can easily understand. There is a huge benefit to this! Having an energy audit done and monitoring your energy use helps you the occupant and in some cases the owner, to understand how well your space is using energy and whether or not you are losing energy and money. Good energy professionals also tell you what can be done, and full-service companies like EnerScope work with you to bring professionals in to make adjustments. Energy Auditors usually provide clients with detailed synopses of problems that their space may be facing in being as efficient possible.

The investment into energy efficient technologies for your home will grow your investment over time, with an average payback of five years.

An energy auditor will usually come and inspect your space, and let you know of leaks in your insulation, along with the condition of your duct-work, furnace and give you an idea of how well your home can resist outside temperatures. This depends on the type of audit you are having done. A good auditor will make sure that you know about all the possible upgrades that would suit you and make your living space more comfortable. The entire process can save you anywhere between 10% and 40% on your energy expenses, usually with an immediate payback. One thing you should consider in having this type of work done is; Money!! Utility companies offer many forms of incentives for carrying out these types of repairs, and so does the Federal Government in the form of tax breaks. Toronto Hydro has been giving incentives to persons who install high efficiency equipment in their homes, through the Heating & Cooling Incentive program. Both the Canadian and American Federal Governments offer tax rebates and credits for carrying out energy efficient repairs to your home or commercial space. Having energy audits done also increases property value and gives the space a higher competitive edge in the real estate market. Buyers would pay more for owning a building that is operating at optimal performance levels and will save them money in the process of doing so. From an Insurance standpoint, the building is also easier to insure and will demand a lower premium, through the many credits that Insurance Companies offer to energy efficient properties. Depending on the original amount that you invested into energy efficient upgrades, one could earn anywhere from 5% to 30% more on the sale of a building that has been energy optimized. In situations where homeowners were very aggressive towards their energy expenses, they have been able to command LEED Rating for their homes. This brand being attached to your home not only means that your home operates more efficiently, using less energy, less water and other natural resources, but it also means that it is now in a different real estate class which attracts a different market and pushes it’s resale value significantly higher. It also means that occupants also create less waste and benefit from better indoor air quality, with more access to fresh air. This Certification means the building is all round more comfortable for its occupants and cheaper to operate. LEED rating can also be used in conjunction with Green Globes to assess the sustainability of the interior of your home. Energy Management has been and will continue to gain traction around the world, as persons realize the true benefit of applying energy efficiency to their everyday operations. One example is in New York City, where Local Law 87 requires all buildings in the Metropolitan Area over 50,000 square feet, to perform retro-commissioning of systems and submission of an energy efficiency report based on a building audit performed by a qualified energy auditor. Under Local Law 87, the Association of Energy Engineers’ (AEE) Certified Energy Manager (CEM) and Certified Energy Auditor (CEA) certifications are approved for energy auditing. The City of San Francisco’s Department of the Environment now recognizes a CEM as qualified to provide energy-auditing services. Under the city’s Environment Code Chapter 20 Existing Commercial Buildings Energy Performance Ordinance, an energy audit is required every five years to ensure buildings’ optimum performance.

In my opinion, a large number of our buildings in the Caribbean & North America can reach optimum performance levels and surpass standards set by aforementioned organizations and others. One advantage that we have is having access to research & development surrounding integrating renewables into the existing grid.

In the next 10 years, I foresee major development in our wind and solar energy resources, knowing that we can achieve and surpass internationally accepted standards, with the right inputs and policies in place.