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Frequently Asked Questions

Understanding Home Evaluations

What is an EnerGuide Label?

The EnerGuide label on a newly constructed home is the document which summarizes the home’s energy performance information from the EnerGuide home evaluation completed after the home was constructed. The EnerGuide label should be permanently posted in a visible spot in the home, for example in the home’s mechanical room or on the electrical panel.

The label includes:

  • Your EnerGuide rating – the modelled energy consumption of your home measured in gigajoules per year. The lower the rating, the less energy you consume.
  • A typical new house reference – the reference point that shows the estimated energy consumption of a home that is the same size, location and design as yours and built to the current new construction energy efficiency requirements of the National Building Code.
  • Breakdown of the rated annual energy consumption – a pie-chart breakdown of the major energy uses within the home.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions – the estimated GHGs emitted annually as a result of using energy in your home.

For a more detailed explanation see the Natural Resources Canada Guide to the EnerGuide Label for Homes.

When should I have an EnerGuide Evaluation?

There are two EnerGuide Evaluation Services for new homes. The pre-construction evaluation, which is completed during the design stage of the project, and the post-construction evaluation, which is completed once the house has been built.

Pre-Construction EnerGuide Evaluation (Construction Upgrade Service)

Contact a registered energy advisor to perform the pre-construciton EnerGuide evaluation  when you are in the design and planning stage of a new home project.

This service is especially useful when builders are trying to build to minimum performance levels as required by BC Energy Step Code, and other green building certification requirements.

Post-Construction EnerGuide Evaluation (Basic Service)

The post-construction EnerGuide service can be completed for a new home anytime after construction is finished up until it is six months old, based on the date of occupancy by the first homeowner.

To read more about EnerGuide evaluations and their benefits, visit our EnerGuide Home Evaluation FAQs.

What are EnerGuide home evaluations and what are the benefits?

An EnerGuide home evaluation for residential new construction is a comprehensive service designed by the federal government to help builders and developers understand how a home uses energy and what steps you can take to improve the building plans and construction process to maximize the energy efficiency of the home built. The service involves a registered new homes energy advisor assessing your home’s energy performance by collecting information on the following components of your home:

  • Size and geometry of your home
  • Type and efficiency of space and hot water heating systems
  • Insulation levels
  • Windows and doors
  • Ventilation systems
  • Air-leakage (using a blower-door test)

This information is used to generate a pre-construction and as-built EnerGuide rating for the home and a pre-construction builder upgrades options report to outline the options and opportunities to improve the efficiency of the home during the construction process. Registered energy advisors are building science professionals who provide unbiased energy saving information, rather than recommending any particular product.

The key benefits of consulting an energy advisor for your construction project are:

  • Energy Modelling to Improve Design – energy advisors conduct energy modelling to verify how much energy a proposed building is expected to use. Energy advisors also use energy modelling to provide detailed information on how each upgrade option to your building plans can improve the efficiency of the home you are building. This allows the builder to select the upgrade option that best suits the construction budget, the design of the home or the preferences of their clients.
  • BC Energy Step Code Verification Services – energy modelling can confirm the home meets the minimum requirements of the BC Building Code or any step of the BC Energy Step Code. Registered EnerGuide Rating System energy advisors are authorized to provide builders with the service to complete the BC Energy Compliance Report for Part 9 buildings complying with Subsection 9.36.5. or 9.36.6. of the BC Building Code.
  • Access Incentives – using a registered energy advisor can support you to access financial incentives and rebates for building to a higher level of construction. Check out the incentive search tool for information about incentives and rebates.
  • Access a Home Energy Label – a home energy label is an information tool, produced by a trusted and recognized third-party, and designed to provide consumers with recognizable and comparable information about the modeled energy consumption of a home. Having a Home energy label produced for each home constructed represents a marketing opportunity for industry to differentiate themselves as builders of high efficiency homes. The home energy label validates the builder’s investments in energy efficient construction and provides the consumer with the information to make an informed choice when purchasing a home.

Learn more about EnerGuide Evaluations through the other related FAQs on the EfficiencyBC website.

Energy Efficient Buildings

What are the benefits of building an energy efficient home?

Buildings built to higher energy-efficiency standards provide multiple benefits to those who live within them and to the community-at-large. A home built with high insulation levels, air-tight construction, high-quality windows, and more efficient mechanical systems are often preferred as they:

  • Improve comfort, by better managing temperature: high insulation levels and air-tight construction and appropriate ventilation controls the air from entering or exiting the home, maintaining warm temperatures in the winter, and cool temperatures in the summer.
  • Improve health, by better managing fresh air throughout the building: building a new home with an HRV provides ample fresh air even when the windows are closed, filtering and pre-warming incoming air for better health and exchanging heat to save energy.
  • Reduce noise: high levels of insulation, air-tightness, and high-efficiency windows can reduce unwanted outdoor noise. This is especially beneficial for homes built in busy or noisy areas or for individuals who enjoy peace and quiet.
  • Require less energy: high-efficiency heating equipment, paired with an efficient building envelope, requires less energy to heat and cool a home, which reduces the ongoing monthly and annual operating costs of the home.
  • Have lower greenhouse gas emissions: buildings are a significant source of energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Building a home to high energy efficiency standards reduces the amount of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere and reduces your personal household environmental footprint.
  • Are more durable: energy efficient homes are constructed with an enhanced focus on the building envelope with better design and construction practices, which generally enhances the quality of the home.

For more information see BC Housing’s guide Consumer Guide to High Performance Homes.

General Rebates and Upgrades

What is my climate zone?

To identify which climate zone your home is in, reference the city listing or map of BC’s climate zones below. If you are not able to determine your zone please email betterhomesbc@gov.bc.ca for additional support.

What are municipal utility providers?

Municipal utility providers are located within the service territories of BC Hydro or FortisBC. These municipalities sell electricity directly to their customers.

Municipal utility providers within the BC Hydro service territory:

  • New Westminster

Municipal utility providers within the FortisBC service territory:

  • Grand Forks
  • Summerland
  • Penticton
  • Nelson

BC Energy Step Code

What is the BC Energy Step Code?

The BC Energy Step Code is a provincial regulation that local governments can voluntarily adopt to require higher levels of energy efficiency in new home construction beyond that required by the BC Building Code. The BC Energy Step Code was introduced as a step-by-step building efficiency strategy that will help meet the Provincial Government’s target of all new homes being net-zero energy ready by 2032.

For Part 9 homes and buildings, the BC Energy Step code sets five performance levels or “steps” with the higher steps being more energy efficient, step five being that the home is net-zero energy ready, meaning it produces as much energy as it consumes. Local governments can choose to require or incentivize a given step for new home construction in their community. Builders and developers have an opportunity to set themselves apart by building to higher steps than required.

While the BC Energy Step Code is currently adopted by municipalities on a voluntary basis, In future years the Province of BC may require that certain steps must be met in order to meet Provincial targets.

By adopting the BC Energy Step code, local governments and their communities will be able to take advantage of the multiple benefits associated with more energy efficient new homes, including:

  • Greenhouse Gas Reductions – High-efficiency homes, require less energy to heat, resulting in reduced carbon emissions, even if homes heat with fossil fuels. Homes heated with a heat pump will have the lowest carbon emissions.
  • Better Affordability – Reduced energy consumption results in lower energy costs.
  • Increased Comfort – The increased insulation and airtightness mean that better equipped to maintain more even temperatures throughout the home.
  • Better Health – Energy efficient homes do a better job of filtering and refreshing the indoor air, infiltration of unwanted mould and moisture.
  • Improved Durability – Your home is less likely to have moisture and condensation issues that can lead to the deterioration of you building envelope.

For more information on the BC Energy Step Code, visit energystepcode.ca

 

How does the BC Energy Step Code compare to other green building labeling and certification programs: PassiveHouse, BUILTGREEN®, ENERGY STAR®, R2000, LEED

Throughout British Columbia there are various green building labeling and certification programs available. In the past, many municipalities had adopted a particular building certification as a mandatory requirement for builders to obtain a building permit, such as:
BUILTGREEN®
 ENERGYSTAR®
R2000
LEED
PassiveHouse

The building and administrative requirements for each green building program vary and not all builders have knowledge about every certification program. This can become complicated and costly to builders when bordering municipalities adopt different green building certification programs. The BC Energy Step Code is a uniform building energy performance standard which allows builders to build in multiple jurisdictions without worrying about different labeling or certification standards.

The BC Energy Step Code is not designed to replace green building program certifications, but rather to provide a consistent energy metric baseline for performance modelling across all municipalities.

The BC Energy Step Code also reduces the need for builders to complete added administrative requirements that are mandatory for many programs listed above. While there is still a cost to work with an energy advisor to obtain an EnerGuide evaluation, the BC Energy Step Code will reduce the administrative workload that many builders need to meet in order to achieve green building certifications.

For more information about the BC Energy Step Code visit: https://energystepcode.ca.

Blower Door Test

What is a Mid-Construction Blower Door Test?

A mid-construction blower door test is a diagnostic test which depressurizes or pressurizes the home to identify unintentional leaks and issues with the air barrier. Importantly, the mid-construction blower door test needs to be scheduled at a point in the construction when it is not too late to effectively remedy identified air leakage issues.

A mid-construction blower door test service may include the following:

  • Measurements required for volume and area calculations;
  • Performing the airtightness test using a blower door fan;
  • Locating and documenting the air leakages – while the home is depressurized or pressurized you can walk around the home and feel air being drawn into the house through unintentional gaps in the building envelope;
  • Determining preliminary blower door metrics using HOT2000 or other software;
  • Air changes per hour (ACH) and/or;
  • Normalized leakage area (NLA) and/or,
  • Normalized leakage rate (NLR)

The mid-construction blower door test service can also include:

  • Blower door guided air sealing (where the energy advisor is on site with the blower door while a crew is conducting air sealing. This allows the builder to benefit from the expertise of the energy advisor and the confirmation that the air leakage target is achieved);
  • Providing a formal mid-construction blower door test report (with narrative and images of air leakage areas);
  • Other tasks agreed to between the two parties (e.g. repeated test to check for improvement).

Benefits of a mid-construction blower door test include:

  • A mid-construction blower door test helps your company avoid surprises and helps you to meet energy efficiency targets early in the process.
  • A home built with minimal levels of air leakage (and right ventilation) can reduce heat loss and energy bills in the winter, keep the home cooler in the summer, improve home comfort, enhance air quality, protect the building structure and other materials from moisture damage, and help prevent dust, noise, and insects from entering from outdoors.
  • A well-built and air sealed home can also shrink the environmental footprint of the home by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions produced by using energy to heat and cool your home.
  • The cost of addressing air leakage issues at the right time in the construction process can be negligible. If you wait until construction has been completed to identify air leakage issues, fixing the problem may be time consuming, expensive, or nearly impossible.
  • The mid-construction blower door test can be a practical teaching tool for your crews and sub trades. Involve them in the process: the test can be an opportunity for them to learn how to identify and address air leakage issues many builders have called the mid-construction blower door test more educational than weekend-long workshops on air tightness.

Contact a professional energy advisor to request a quote for a mid-construction blower door test.Currently, new homes energy advisors can be found on https://energystepcode.ca/energy-advisors/.

Booking a Home Evaluation

What are the costs of an EnerGuide home evaluation?

The range of cost for EnerGuide home evaluations for new construction is broad and depends on many factors:

  • Location of the construction
  • Energy advisor or service organization
  • Size and complexity of the home
  • Project timelines
  • Additional building bylaw requirements
  • Additional services requested, i.e. thermal imaging, mid-construction blower door test, etc.
  • Requirement of multiple blower door tests due to the layout of the building
  • Travel distance / mileage fees

Due to the many factors that affect the cost of an EnerGuide evaluation, we recommend contacting different energy advisors or service organizations in your areato obtain an accurate quote and to ensure that they are able to work within your time frame. Currently new homes energy advisors can be found on https://energystepcode.ca/energy-advisors/.

What can I do if there are no new homes energy advisors currently servicing my location?

A majority of the work involved in delivering an EnerGuide evaluation for new home construction can be completed remotely. If there are no energy advisors located in the area you are building the home, try to connect with an Energy Advisor nearest to your city/town and ask if they’re willing to visit your location to conduct a final site visit after the construction of your home.

Currently new homes energy advisors can be found at https://energystepcode.ca/energy-advisors/.

Not satisfied with your energy advisor or the EnerGuide home evaluation?

Contact your energy advisor’s service organization. The service organization is responsible for training energy advisors, providing supervision and technical support and monitoring that established Natural Resources Canada procedures are followed.

General Rebate Questions

What is my climate zone?

To identify which climate zone your home is in, reference the city listing or map of BC’s climate zones below. If you are not able to determine your zone please email betterhomesbc@gov.bc.ca for additional support.

What rebates are available for new homes and how do I access them?

There are a number of rebate programs available for improving the energy efficiency of new homes in BC, and each program is different. Visit the residential new construction rebate search tool to find programs that you may be eligible for.

Some rebates are provided by your energy utilities, some by local, regional, or provincial government, some from lending institutions, and more. Some programs are for specific energy efficient products, some are for have an energy evaluation, and some reward the overall energy performance of the home.

Take the time to thoroughly read about the rebates and incentives you are interested in, as the terms and conditions, and application processes vary from program to program.

Did you see a building science or energy efficiency term you did not understand? Check out our glossary.

What are municipal utility providers?

Municipal utility providers are located within the service territories of BC Hydro or FortisBC. These municipalities sell electricity directly to their customers.

Municipal utility providers within the BC Hydro service territory:

  • New Westminster

Municipal utility providers within the FortisBC service territory:

  • Grand Forks
  • Summerland
  • Penticton
  • Nelson

EnerGuide Home Evaluations

What is an EnerGuide Label?

The EnerGuide label on a newly constructed home is the document which summarizes the home’s energy performance information from the EnerGuide home evaluation completed after the home was constructed. The EnerGuide label should be permanently posted in a visible spot in the home, for example in the home’s mechanical room or on the electrical panel.

The label includes:

  • Your EnerGuide rating – the modelled energy consumption of your home measured in gigajoules per year. The lower the rating, the less energy you consume.
  • A typical new house reference – the reference point that shows the estimated energy consumption of a home that is the same size, location and design as yours and built to the current new construction energy efficiency requirements of the National Building Code.
  • Breakdown of the rated annual energy consumption – a pie-chart breakdown of the major energy uses within the home.
  • Greenhouse gas emissions – the estimated GHGs emitted annually as a result of using energy in your home.

For a more detailed explanation see the Natural Resources Canada Guide to the EnerGuide Label for Homes.

When should I have an EnerGuide Evaluation?

There are two EnerGuide Evaluation Services for new homes. The pre-construction evaluation, which is completed during the design stage of the project, and the post-construction evaluation, which is completed once the house has been built.

Pre-Construction EnerGuide Evaluation (Construction Upgrade Service)

Contact a registered energy advisor to perform the pre-construciton EnerGuide evaluation  when you are in the design and planning stage of a new home project.

This service is especially useful when builders are trying to build to minimum performance levels as required by BC Energy Step Code, and other green building certification requirements.

Post-Construction EnerGuide Evaluation (Basic Service)

The post-construction EnerGuide service can be completed for a new home anytime after construction is finished up until it is six months old, based on the date of occupancy by the first homeowner.

To read more about EnerGuide evaluations and their benefits, visit our EnerGuide Home Evaluation FAQs.

What are EnerGuide home evaluations and what are the benefits?

An EnerGuide home evaluation for residential new construction is a comprehensive service designed by the federal government to help builders and developers understand how a home uses energy and what steps you can take to improve the building plans and construction process to maximize the energy efficiency of the home built. The service involves a registered new homes energy advisor assessing your home’s energy performance by collecting information on the following components of your home:

  • Size and geometry of your home
  • Type and efficiency of space and hot water heating systems
  • Insulation levels
  • Windows and doors
  • Ventilation systems
  • Air-leakage (using a blower-door test)

This information is used to generate a pre-construction and as-built EnerGuide rating for the home and a pre-construction builder upgrades options report to outline the options and opportunities to improve the efficiency of the home during the construction process. Registered energy advisors are building science professionals who provide unbiased energy saving information, rather than recommending any particular product.

The key benefits of consulting an energy advisor for your construction project are:

  • Energy Modelling to Improve Design – energy advisors conduct energy modelling to verify how much energy a proposed building is expected to use. Energy advisors also use energy modelling to provide detailed information on how each upgrade option to your building plans can improve the efficiency of the home you are building. This allows the builder to select the upgrade option that best suits the construction budget, the design of the home or the preferences of their clients.
  • BC Energy Step Code Verification Services – energy modelling can confirm the home meets the minimum requirements of the BC Building Code or any step of the BC Energy Step Code. Registered EnerGuide Rating System energy advisors are authorized to provide builders with the service to complete the BC Energy Compliance Report for Part 9 buildings complying with Subsection 9.36.5. or 9.36.6. of the BC Building Code.
  • Access Incentives – using a registered energy advisor can support you to access financial incentives and rebates for building to a higher level of construction. Check out the incentive search tool for information about incentives and rebates.
  • Access a Home Energy Label – a home energy label is an information tool, produced by a trusted and recognized third-party, and designed to provide consumers with recognizable and comparable information about the modeled energy consumption of a home. Having a Home energy label produced for each home constructed represents a marketing opportunity for industry to differentiate themselves as builders of high efficiency homes. The home energy label validates the builder’s investments in energy efficient construction and provides the consumer with the information to make an informed choice when purchasing a home.

Learn more about EnerGuide Evaluations through the other related FAQs on the EfficiencyBC website.

What is a Mid-Construction Blower Door Test?

A mid-construction blower door test is a diagnostic test which depressurizes or pressurizes the home to identify unintentional leaks and issues with the air barrier. Importantly, the mid-construction blower door test needs to be scheduled at a point in the construction when it is not too late to effectively remedy identified air leakage issues.

A mid-construction blower door test service may include the following:

  • Measurements required for volume and area calculations;
  • Performing the airtightness test using a blower door fan;
  • Locating and documenting the air leakages – while the home is depressurized or pressurized you can walk around the home and feel air being drawn into the house through unintentional gaps in the building envelope;
  • Determining preliminary blower door metrics using HOT2000 or other software;
  • Air changes per hour (ACH) and/or;
  • Normalized leakage area (NLA) and/or,
  • Normalized leakage rate (NLR)

The mid-construction blower door test service can also include:

  • Blower door guided air sealing (where the energy advisor is on site with the blower door while a crew is conducting air sealing. This allows the builder to benefit from the expertise of the energy advisor and the confirmation that the air leakage target is achieved);
  • Providing a formal mid-construction blower door test report (with narrative and images of air leakage areas);
  • Other tasks agreed to between the two parties (e.g. repeated test to check for improvement).

Benefits of a mid-construction blower door test include:

  • A mid-construction blower door test helps your company avoid surprises and helps you to meet energy efficiency targets early in the process.
  • A home built with minimal levels of air leakage (and right ventilation) can reduce heat loss and energy bills in the winter, keep the home cooler in the summer, improve home comfort, enhance air quality, protect the building structure and other materials from moisture damage, and help prevent dust, noise, and insects from entering from outdoors.
  • A well-built and air sealed home can also shrink the environmental footprint of the home by reducing the greenhouse gas emissions produced by using energy to heat and cool your home.
  • The cost of addressing air leakage issues at the right time in the construction process can be negligible. If you wait until construction has been completed to identify air leakage issues, fixing the problem may be time consuming, expensive, or nearly impossible.
  • The mid-construction blower door test can be a practical teaching tool for your crews and sub trades. Involve them in the process: the test can be an opportunity for them to learn how to identify and address air leakage issues many builders have called the mid-construction blower door test more educational than weekend-long workshops on air tightness.

Contact a professional energy advisor to request a quote for a mid-construction blower door test.Currently, new homes energy advisors can be found on https://energystepcode.ca/energy-advisors/.

What are the costs of an EnerGuide home evaluation?

The range of cost for EnerGuide home evaluations for new construction is broad and depends on many factors:

  • Location of the construction
  • Energy advisor or service organization
  • Size and complexity of the home
  • Project timelines
  • Additional building bylaw requirements
  • Additional services requested, i.e. thermal imaging, mid-construction blower door test, etc.
  • Requirement of multiple blower door tests due to the layout of the building
  • Travel distance / mileage fees

Due to the many factors that affect the cost of an EnerGuide evaluation, we recommend contacting different energy advisors or service organizations in your areato obtain an accurate quote and to ensure that they are able to work within your time frame. Currently new homes energy advisors can be found on https://energystepcode.ca/energy-advisors/.

What can I do if there are no new homes energy advisors currently servicing my location?

A majority of the work involved in delivering an EnerGuide evaluation for new home construction can be completed remotely. If there are no energy advisors located in the area you are building the home, try to connect with an Energy Advisor nearest to your city/town and ask if they’re willing to visit your location to conduct a final site visit after the construction of your home.

Currently new homes energy advisors can be found at https://energystepcode.ca/energy-advisors/.

Not satisfied with your energy advisor or the EnerGuide home evaluation?

Contact your energy advisor’s service organization. The service organization is responsible for training energy advisors, providing supervision and technical support and monitoring that established Natural Resources Canada procedures are followed.