This post has been updated
Home inspectors who also provide the service of an energy audit have a large part to play in getting homeowners to go green, by helping them figure out how to make their current homes more energy efficient, and also helping potential buyers determine if their desired property requires upgrades.
New homes, like all the Toronto condos that have sprung up in the last decade, are often more green because of the higher requirements demanded. However, most residential stock in Ontario is quite old, especially single-family homes for sale in Toronto.
These homes often have problems with sealing around the windows and doors, and vents and pipes leading to the outside. But it takes a qualified home inspector and energy auditor to walk a client through the home and explain exactly what the problems are.
“A home inspector can help in many ways,” says Andrew Dixon, a registered home inspector. “They can identify aging and inefficient systems, and allow the homeowner to plan properly for its replacement. They are also cognizant of the latest green technologies and equipment.”
Energy updates can be as simple as upgrading your home’s system to a smart thermostat (Nest and Ecobee are two of the most popular models on the market). These reduce energy usage and cost by monitoring heating and cooling trends in a household, and allowing heat and air conditioning to be controlled remotely.
However, some of the greatest returns on energy improvements come in the form of renovations: updating insulation, replacing windows, and upgrading air source and certified ground source heat pumps are all effective ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency.
But home owners and potential buyers aren’t experts on these systems and are unlikely to know where to start. They also don’t have the equipment necessary to determine gaps in insulation or air leakage.
That’s where a home inspector comes in. Many home inspectors that are qualified, can perform an energy audit on a property and determine exactly what should be retrofitted, and make a list of priorities.
“Home inspectors know homes!” Dixon says.
A home inspector will first evaluate the exterior structure and its materials then the home’s systems and ages — the HVAC, insulation, doors and windows. An energy auditor will operate a blower door to identify air leakage points, enhance insulation gaps and determine an air exchange rate.
The data is entered into modeling software in a “now”, as is scenario (including utility costs), then the data can be modified and improved to show an “upgrade” scenario detailing projected utility cost savings and efficiencies.
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