District of Squamish mayor Greg Gardner learned having your furnace in an uninsulated garage, a lot of windows, vaulted ceilings and a few too many drafts can reduce the energy efficiency of your home.
A public home energy assessment on Saturday (March 20) gave the four-bedroom home, which Gardner shares with spouse Lila Gaudry and their two sons, a score of 70 on the energuide rating system slightly better than average.
But with a few modifications the Highlands area home could become more energy efficient and save the Gaudry-Gardner household hundreds of dollars on the heating bill each year, according to certified energy advisor Luke Dolan.
Gardner said he took the opportunity to have an energy audit when offered by Squamish Climate Action Network (CAN) because he wants to improve the carbon footprint of his house.
"I'm sure there are ways to improve there probably always are, so I'm looking forward to hearing how I can become more energy efficient and save money."
After spending a few hours examining the home, Dolan recommended the couple invest about $6,000 on a new electric furnace installed in a well-insulated area not the cold two-car garage that currently serves as a home to the furnace.
"For this house, we're fairly limited on what we're going to do to improve the efficiency of the house because it's a fairly decent house," said Dolan. "Everything is good, as opposed to the majority of my homes where it's usually a long list of things to do."
And not only will they couple benefit from energy cost savings, they can also apply to have up to $5,000 of the cost of renovations reimbursed from the federal government thanks to a Natural Resources Canada program called ecoEnergy if Dolan re-evaluates the 1993-era home within 18-months of the first energy assessment.
"Essentially the program is designed to help Canadians upgrade their homes to save energy, lower their carbon footprint and get some money back for doing certain items like changing your windows, updating your heating system, looking at your hot water, putting in low flush toilet and insulation," Dolan said.
Gaudry said she's excited about getting the energy audit for her home so the family can start planning energy efficient renovations.
"The benefits of getting this energy audit are great," Gaudry said. "We've done some minor renovations and each new one that we do we want to do as environmentally and energy efficient as possible."
She said she's interested in getting a new electric furnace because it could be used to cool the home as well as heat it.
"I would love to look at the air-source heat pump because there's no air conditioning in this house and it doesn't make sense for two weeks a year to install an air conditioner."
Squamish CAN co-ordinator Ana Santos said she and green building group co-ordinator Eric Andersen decide to organize an energy assessment at Gardner's house because they figured it would gain the most attention from community members.
"I think there is a lack of awareness really in terms of what we can do at home to save energy," Santos said. "So we just want to spread the awareness that we can do a lot they're very simple things that we can do to make things better.
"We feel that there is a need for people to realize that there is a lot of savings to be had from these sorts of things and it's not just a question of environmental benefit."
Andersen said maximizing energy efficiency is not only good for the environment but it's good for the local economy as well.
"It's good for retailers, building materials industry, contractors, installers. If we could stimulate more people to do green home improvement activities that's good for the local economy."
For more information on making your home more energy efficient and on federal grants visit http://www.ecoaction.gc.ca.