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CleanBC Better Homes Program Eligibility FAQs

What if I started my renovations between April 01, 2019 and September 30, 2019?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs provide rebates based on the dates of your invoices.  Rebate amounts may vary. The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs are administered by BC Hydro, FortisBC and the Province of BC.

Rebates available between April 01, 2019 and September 30, 2019:

  • Invoices dated between April 01, 2019 and September 30, 2019 are processed under these CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program terms & conditions
  • Upgrades with invoices dated between April 01, 2018 and September 30, 2019 will be processed with the rebates below.
  • Electric Service Upgrade Rebates, Electric Service Upgrade Top-Ups, Heat Pump Water Heater Top-Ups, and select municipal top-ups are effective as of October 01, 2019 only.  See our Rebate Search Tool for current rebate availability and requirements.

Started your upgrades before April 01, 2019? See our other FAQs:

Space Heating Rebates

Ductless Heat Pump – up to $3,000
Heat Pump Type Requirements Primary Fuel Before Upgrade Rebate
Single-Head
Mini-Split
SEER >18.00
HSPF >10.00
Variable Speed Compressor
FortisBC Electricity $1,200
BC Hydro Electricity $1,000
Single-Head
Mini-Split
SEER >16.00
HSPF >9.30
Variable Speed Compressor
Fossil Fuel (Oil, Propane, or Natural Gas) $3,000
Multi-Head
Mini-Split
SEER >16.00
HSPF >9.30
Variable Speed Compressor
FortisBC Electricity $2,000
BC Hydro Electricity $1,000
Fossil Fuel (Oil, Propane, or Natural Gas) $3,000

 

Central Heat Pump – up to $3,000
Heat Pump Type Requirements Primary Fuel Before Upgrade Rebate
Tier 1 Central SEER >15.00
HSPF >8.50
FortisBC Electricity $1,200
BC Hydro Electricity No Rebate
Fossil Fuel (Oil, Propane, or Natural Gas) $1,200
Tier 2 Central SEER >16.00
HSPF >9.30
Variable Speed Compressor
FortisBC Electricity $2,000
BC Hydro Electricity $2,000
Fossil Fuel (Oil, Propane, or Natural Gas) $3,000

 

Combination Space and Water Heat Pump – up to $4,300
Heat Pump Type Requirements Primary Space Heating Fuel Before Upgrade Primary Water Heating Fuel Before Upgrade Bonus Offer Count Rebate
Combination Space and Water Heat Pump Requires pre-approval from betterhomesbc@gov.bc.ca

before installation

Fossil Fuel Fossil Fuel 2 $4,000

(plus the Two Upgrade Bonus)

Fossil Fuel Electric 1 $3,000
Electric Fossil Fuel 1 $1,000
Electric Electric N/A   $0

 

Air-to-Water Heat Pump – $3,000
Heat Pump Type Requirements Primary Space Heating Fuel Before Upgrade Rebate
Air-to-Water Hydronic Heat Pump Requires pre-approval from betterhomesbc@gov.bc.ca before installation Fossil Fuel $3,000

 

Natural Gas Furnace – up to $700
95 to 96.9 per cent annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) natural gas furnace $500
97 to 99 per cent AFUE natural gas furnace $700

 

Natural Gas Boiler or Combination Heating and Hot Water System – up to $1,200
94 per cent or higher AFUE natural gas boiler
(installed between July 10, 2018 and February 28, 2019)
$500
94 per cent or higher AFUE natural gas boiler
(installed on or after March 1, 2019)
$1,000
ENERGY STAR certified natural gas combination heating and hot water system
(counts as 2 upgrades towards the Bonus Offers)
$1,200
P9 certified combination natural gas heating and hot water system
(counts as 2 upgrades towards the Bonus Offers)
$1,200

 

Natural Gas Fireplace – $300 per fireplace
EnerChoice® fireplace Install natural gas EnerChoice® fireplace $300

 

Water Heating Rebates

Electric Heat Pump Water Heater – $1,000
Electric heat pump water heater Switch from electric resistance*, natural gas, oil or propane to electric heat pump water heater $1,000

 

Natural Gas Water Heater – up to $1,000
Natural gas 0.67 EF storage tank water heater Install high efficiency gas water heater (FortisBC) $200
Natural gas condensing tankless water heater Install high efficiency gas water heater (FortisBC) $1,000
Natural gas condensing storage tank water heater Install high efficiency gas water heater (FortisBC) $1,000

 

Building Envelope Rebates

Insulation – up to $5,500
Attic insulation (minimum R12) $0.02 x R-value x square feet Max $900
Basement/crawlspace insulation (minimum R10) $0.09 x R-value x square feet Max $1,200
Exterior wall cavity insulation (minimum R12) $0.09 x R-value x square feet Max $1,200
Exterior wall sheathing insulation (minimum R3.8) $0.09 x R-value x square feet Max $1,200
Other insulation (minimum R20) $0.07 x R-value x square feet Max $1,000

Windows and Doors – up to $100 per window or door
Tier 1 Windows/doors

(u-Factor of 1.23 to 1.40 W/m²-K)

Maximum 20 ($1,000) $50 ea
Tier 2 Windows/doors

(u-Factor of 1.22 W/m²-K or less)

Maximum 20 ($2,000)

  • Note: Tier 2 windows must be installed on or after April 01 2019 to access the Tier 2 Window Rebate.
$100 ea

 

Municipal Top-Ups

Municipality EnerGuide Evaluation Top-up Convert from Fossil Fuel Heating to Electric Heat Pump Space Heating Top-up
City of Vancouver $150 $2,000
Capital Regional District* $350
City of Victoria* $350
District of Saanich* $350
City of Kamloops $150
City of Richmond $150
Comox Valley Regional District $150 $350
City of North Vancouver $150 $350
Resort Municipality of Whistler $2,000
City of Powell River $350
City of Campbell River $150 $350

*Residents of Victoria and Saanich can combine their rebate with Capital Regional District (Total of $700 Municipal Top-up).

Bonus and Special Offers

  • Select municipalities have Municipal Offers that can be accessed when fuel switching from fossil fuel heating (natural gas, oil, or propane) to an electric air-source heat pump (up to an additional $2,000), or for completing a pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation (an additional $150).
  • Two Upgrade Bonus – receive a $300 rebate for installing two eligible upgrades. The second bonus-eligible upgrade must be installed within 18 months of the first bonus-eligible upgrade. The Two Upgrade Bonus can be accessed in addition to Individual Upgrades rebates. Does not require an EnerGuide home evaluation.
    • Note: a maximum of one primary heating system and one primary water heater can be counted towards the Two Upgrade Bonus.

The following offers require both a pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation by a program-qualified energy advisor:

  • EnerGuide Home Evaluation Rebate – receive $300 for completing both a pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation.
  • Home Energy Improvement Bonus – install three eligible individual upgrades and receive $20 per percentage reduction in your EnerGuide rating (GJ/year), between your pre- and post-retrofit energy evaluation, to a maximum of $2,000. All three bonus-eligible upgrades must be submitted within 18 months of the pre-retrofit EnerGuide Home Evaluation. The Home Energy Improvement Bonus can be accessed in addition to rebates for individual upgrades.
  • Important Note: Participants can receive either the Two Upgrade Bonus or the Home Energy Improvement Bonus, but not both.

Eligibility Requirements

  • Your upgrades must be completed on or after September 28, 2018.
  • Your upgrades must be installed by a licensed contractor with a valid BC business license for the trade applicable to the installation work.
  • You must have a residential utility account with FortisBC, BC Hydro, or a municipal utility.
  • Your home must be primarily heated with:
    • Natural Gas or piped-propane supplied by FortisBC
    • Natural Gas supplied by Pacific Northern Gas
    • Electricity supplied by FortisBC, BC Hydro, or a municipal utility
    • Oil or propane not supplied FortisBC
  • Homes primarily heated by wood or other solid fossil fuels are not eligible.
  • You must live in an eligible home.
  • The home must have a minimum of 12 months of consecutive utility billing history.

How to Apply

  • Carefully read the terms and conditions and the April 01 2019 amendment to confirm your eligibility.
  • Have your upgrades installed by a contractor with a valid BC business license for the applicable trade (ie. Contractor – Heating, Contractor – Electrical).
  • Once your upgrades are installed, complete the online application and upload all supporting documentation including copies of all receipts and invoices. See sample invoices.

Deadlines

  • The application form for individual upgrades must be submitted within 6 months of the invoice date of the upgrade.
  • The application form for the Two Upgrade Bonus must be submitted within 6 months of the second bonus-eligible upgrade. You must complete your second bonus-eligible upgrade within 18 months of the invoice date of the first bonus-eligible upgrade.
  • The application form for the Home Energy Improvement Bonus and EnerGuide Home Evaluation Rebate must be submitted within 6 months of the date of your post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation. You must complete your post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation within 18 months of your pre-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation.

Other

Program Contact Information

What do the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs define as my Primary Heating System?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs Terms and Conditions include primary heating systems as one of the determining factors for eligibility.

To participate in the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs, the home must be heated by an eligible primary heating system that uses an eligible fuel type.

Eligible fuel types:

  • Electricity supplied by BC Hydro
  • Natural gas supplied by FortisBC Energy Inc.
  • Natural gas supplied by Pacific Northern Gas Ltd.
  • Piped-propane supplied by FortisBC Energy Inc.
  • Electricity supplied by FortisBC Inc.
  • Oil
  • Propane (not supplied by FortisBC)
  • Electricity supplied by a Municipal Utility

Note: Participants using Pacific Northern Gas (PNG) Natural Gas for their Primary Heating System are currently not eligible for Natural Gas Furnace rebates, Natural Gas Boiler rebates, Natural Gas Fireplace rebates, or Natural Gas Water Heater rebates. They are eligible for insulation rebates, window/door rebates, fuel switch heat pump rebates, heat pump hot water rebates, as well as bonus offers and EnerGuide home evaluation rebates.

The Terms and Conditions define a Primary Heating System as:

  • A primary heating system is a heating system with the capacity to heat a minimum of 50% of the home for the entire heating season to 21ºC.
  • Determination of the primary heating type is at the sole discretion of the Partners.

Clarifications and Exceptions for determining your Primary Heating System

  • Wood fireplaces, natural gas fireplaces, and propane fireplaces are not considered primary heating systems by the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs even if it is the only heating system in use on the premises or if the system has the capacity and is used to heat a minimum of 50% of the home for the entire heating season.
  • Where both a Primary Heating System and Fireplace are present, the Fireplace will not be considered the primary heating system.

 What is my Primary Heating System?

When determining the rebate you may be eligible for, the heating system(s) present on site prior to the installation of the new primary heating system will determine the space heating rebates available to you through the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs.

Primary Heating System Type System Fuel Type Available Primary Space Heating Rebates Notes
Electric Baseboard / Wall Heater Electricity
  • Electric-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate
  • No rebates for installing electric baseboards
  • No rebates for installing electric furnaces
  • No rebates for converting from electricity to natural gas primary heating systems
Electric Furnace Electricity
  • Electric-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate
  • No rebates for installing electric baseboards
  • No rebates for installing electric furnaces
  • No rebates for converting from electricity to natural gas primary heating systems
Electric Heat Pump Electricity
  • There are no rebates for replacing an existing heat pump
Electric Combination Space / Water Heat Pump Electricity
  • There are no rebates for replacing an existing heat pump
Electric Air-to-Water Heat Pump Electricity
  • There are no rebates for replacing an existing heat pump
Natural Gas Furnace Natural Gas
  • Fossil Fuel-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate
  • Natural Gas Furnace
  • Natural Gas Boiler
Natural Gas Boiler or Combination System Natural Gas
  • Fossil Fuel-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate
  • Natural Gas Furnace
  • Natural Gas Boiler
Propane Furnace Propane
  • Fossil Fuel-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate

 

Propane Boiler Propane
  • Fossil Fuel-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate

 

Oil Furnace Oil
  • Fossil Fuel-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate

 

Oil Boiler Oil
  • Fossil Fuel-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate

 

Woodstove Wood

(solid fuel)

  • None
  • Homes primarily heated by wood or other solid fuels are not eligible to participate in this program.

 

Examples of Determining Primary Heating System:

  • Electric baseboards and a natural gas fireplace are present in the same home. The electric baseboards are the primary heating system.
  • An oil boiler or furnace and natural gas fireplace are present in the same home. The oil boiler or furnace is the primary heating system.
  • A natural gas furnace and a natural gas fireplace are present in the same home. The natural gas furnace is the primary heating system.
  • A heat pump and a wood fireplace are present in the same home. The heat pump is the primary heating system.

Heat Pump Rebates are Not Available When:

  • There is a heat pump on the premises already. This applies whether the heat pump is functioning or not functioning.
  • The Primary Heating System is a woodstove (solid fuel).
  • The home is not an eligible home type.
  • The heat pump that is installed does not meet minimum program requirements.

I am not in an eligible home, are there any rebates I can access?

If the home you are upgrading or have upgraded is not eligible for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program but is heated primarily by FortisBC natural gas that is billed at a residential rate, you may be eligible to receive rebates directly through FortisBC.

  • To apply for these rebates, use the application forms available directly through FortisBC
  • Applications must also be submitted directly to FortisBC.

If the building you are upgrading is a high-rise building, an apartment building, a stacked townhouse, or condominium that is billed at a commercial rate, your building may be considered a Commercial Building in regards to rebate programs.

  • Commercial Rebate Programs are listed in our rebate search tool. Select Commercial Renovation from the Building Type list.
  • Income qualified households may be able to access free Energy Saving Kits

How can I convert an imperial U-factor to a metric U-factor?

U-factor can be expressed in metric units (W/m2·K) or imperial inch-pound units (Btu/h·ft2·F).

To convert imperial u-factors to metric u-factors, multiply by 5.678.

Example: My contractor has given me a quote for five new windows that I would like to replace. My contractor says they have a U-factor in imperial units (Btu/h·ft2·F) of 0.21 and I want to know what that is in metric units.

0.21 x 5.678 = 1.19 (W/m2·K)

New windows typically have a U-factor between 1.00 and 1.80 (W/m2·K), which converts to between 0.18 and 0.32 (Btu/h·ft2·F).

In order to receive a window rebate through the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program, your windows must be ENERGY STAR® certified, have a metric U-factor (W/m2·K) of 1.23 – 1.4 for Tier 1 rebates or a metric u-factor (W/m2·K) of 1.22 or less for Tier 2 rebates and be listed on Natural Resource Canada’s ENERGY STAR certified fenestration product list.  Learn more about this rebate here.

Why does the rebate only apply to windows that are ENERGY STAR® Certified with a maximum U-factor of 1.40 (W/m2·K)?

The Tier 1 window and door rebate and the Tier 2 window and door rebate is designed to help with the additional cost of highly energy efficient windows.

ENERGY STAR certification with an U-factor < 1.40 (W/m2·K) is an industry benchmark for above average window performance. The U-factor maximum of 1.22 (W/m2·K) for Tier 2 window rebates aligns with the next update to ENERGY STAR specifications (effective January 2020) as well as Provincial and Federal policies on energy efficient equipment in the building sector.

Why is a variable speed compressor required for many heat pump rebates?

A variable speed compressor is an inverter driven compressor that can adjust its operating speed to match a home’s heat demand. Compared to conventional systems, variable speed systems have higher customer satisfaction rates, increased energy savings and less impact on the electrical grid. For these reasons, a variable speed compressor is required for mini-split, multi-split, and Tier 2 central heat pump rebates.

Variable speed compressors are very common in ductless mini-split systems but are available for mid and high-performance central systems as well. Heat pump installers are advised to speak with their equipment distributors about variable speed product options.

General benefits to a homeowner:

  • More consistent indoor temperatures
  • Quieter start-up of the outdoor unit
  • Quieter operation due to increased time operating at low speeds/airflow
  • Lower energy bills and better return on investment

Performance improvements relative to conventional systems:

  • Higher efficiency at partial loads and significant seasonal energy savings, beyond what is captured in the HSPF and SEER ratings
  • Higher capacity in cold weather and a better match to a home’s heating needs
  • Faster defrost cycles
  • At partial load operation, lower airflow requirements mitigate issues associated with high static pressure in existing ductwork
  • Allows equipment to be sized for heating needs, while maintaining high performance in cooling operation.
  • Gradual start-up is easier on equipment
  • Gradual start-up is easier on local electrical grids
  • Increased performance reduces peak energy demand in the heating season

What are the ENERGY STAR® Climate Zone requirements for window and door installations?

There is no climate zone requirement for window and door installations, but all windows and doors must be ENERGY STAR® certified (any zone) and have a maximum U-factor of 1.40 (W/m2·K), regardless of installation location. Eligible windows and doors can be found on Natural Resource Canada’s ENERGY STAR® certified fenestration product list.

Does the heat pump contractor or homeowner have to provide a capacity specifications sheet from the heat pump manufacturer as part of the program application?

No. The heat pump’s capacity is linked to the AHRI certified reference number (and AHRI certificate) for the system. The AHRI certified reference number (or AHRI certificate) is required for the program application.

What Region is used for the HSPF rating requirements for heat pump installations? Region 4 or 5?

The minimum HSPF rating requirements for all heat pump installations are based on Region 4, regardless of location. Unless otherwise specified, manufacturers’ published HSPF ratings and the HSPF ratings published in the Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) Directory of Certified Product Performance are based on Region 4. The ratings found in the AHRI directory can be used to fulfill program requirements.

HSPF ratings for Region 5 are sometimes referenced in regulations or shown in reference to a heat pump’s performance in a specific climate. Region 5 metrics come from equipment test data and cannot be directly converted to Region 4 metrics. Region 5 metrics can be requested from manufacturers, but Region 4 metrics should be used for program requirements.

What if I started my renovations before April 01 2019?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program, formerly known as the Home Renovation Rebate and EfficiencyBC Program, provides rebates based on the dates of your invoices.  Rebate amounts may vary.

Rebates available between September 28, 2018 and March 31, 2019:

  • Invoices dated between September 28, 2018 and March 31, 2019 are processed under these CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program terms & conditions
  • Upgrades with invoices dated between September 28, 2018 and March 31, 2019 will be processed with the rebates below.

Mini-Split and Multi-Split Heat Pumps

Heat Pump Type Requirements Primary Fuel Before Upgrade Rebate
Single-Head
Mini-Split
SEER >18.00
HSPF >10.00
Variable Speed Compressor
FortisBC Electricity $1,200
BC Hydro Electricity $1,000
Fossil Fuel (Oil, Propane, or Natural Gas) $2,000
Multi-Head
Mini-Split
SEER >16.00
HSPF >9.50
Variable Speed Compressor
FortisBC Electricity $2,000
BC Hydro Electricity $1,000
Fossil Fuel (Oil, Propane, or Natural Gas) $2,000

Central Heat Pumps

Heat Pump Type Requirements Primary Fuel Before Upgrade Rebate
Tier 1 Central SEER >15.00
HSPF >8.50
FortisBC Electricity $1,200
BC Hydro Electricity No Rebate
Tier 2 Central SEER >16.00
HSPF >9.50
Variable Speed Compressor
FortisBC Electricity $2,000
BC Hydro Electricity $2,000
Fossil Fuel (Oil, Propane, or Natural Gas) $2,000

Combination Space and Water Heat Pump

Heat Pump Type Requirements Primary Space Heating Fuel Before Upgrade Primary Water Heating Fuel Before Upgrade Bonus Offer Count Rebate
Combination Space and Water Heat Pump Requires pre-approval from betterhomesbc@gov.bc.ca before installation Fossil Fuel Fossil Fuel 2 $3,000
Fossil Fuel Electric 1 $3,000
Electric Fossil Fuel 1 $1,000
Electric Electric N/A   $0

 Window and Door Replacements

  • New windows/doors must be ENERGY STAR® certified. The products must be listed on the ENERGY STAR certified fenestration list for windows and doors.
  • New windows/doors must have a metric U-Factor of 1.22 (W/m2·K) or lower.
  • Rebate of $50 per window and door, maximum of $1,000.

 

What if I started my renovations before September 28, 2018?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program, formerly known as the Home Renovation Rebate Program, provides rebates based on the dates of your pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluations and upgrade invoices. Program terms and conditions may vary depending on invoice dates.

Affected Rebates:

  • $750 Bonus Offer
  • Draftproofing Rebate
  • $150 Energy Coach Home Evaluation Rebate
  • Home Energy Improvement Bonus
  • Two Upgrade Bonus

How to Apply:

  • If you were electrically heated prior to your upgrades, email the program directly at homerebates@bchydro.com with all supporting documentation.
  • If you were heated with natural gas or propane prior to your upgrades, email the program directly at homerebates@fortisbc.com with all supporting documentation.
  • The program administration will assist you with the processing of your application to determine what Bonus Offer and rebates you are to access.
Include the following supporting documentation and necessary information with your email:
  • Date of pre-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation.
  • Date of all eligible upgrade invoices detailed with contractor name, contractor company, upgrade details, and paid totals. Please see sample invoices for reference.
  • All supporting documentation associated with upgrades, including equipment removal or decommission reports (if applicable).
  • Date of post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation, if completed.

Important Notes:

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

How much will my rebate be for the Home Energy Improvement Bonus?

The Home Energy Improvement Bonus is a rebate provided to homes that complete EnerGuide Rating System evaluations and install three or more bonus-eligible home energy upgrades. The rebate is calculated as the percentage change between your pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide rating.* The bigger the percentage change in your EnerGuide rating, the larger the bonus rebate you will receive. Different combinations of bonus eligible upgrades will provide higher rebates than others. Work with a Program-Qualified Energy Advisor to determine the right Home Energy Improvement Plan for your home.

 

Remember: The Home Energy Improvement Bonus is a rebate you receive in addition to the individual rebates and the EnerGuide Home Evaluation Rebate. The chart below shows the potential range of the Home Energy Improvement Bonus amounts based on your heating system and  type of upgrades undertaken.

 

Home Heating System Upgrade Combinations Average Range of Home Energy Improvement Bonus,** plus EnerGuide Home Evaluation Rebate
Natural Gas and Oil Air Source Heat Pump  + 2 eligible upgrades $1100 to $1800
Natural Gas and Oil 3 eligible upgrades $450 to $1100
Electric Air Source Heat Pump + 2 eligible upgrades $900 to $1500
Electric 3 eligible upgrades $450 to $900

 

Important notes:

  • Be sure to follow the Home Energy Improvement Bonus Eligibility Requirements
  • If your community provides municipal top-ups, including EnerGuide Home Evaluation Top-ups and/or Convert to Electric Heat Pump Space Heating Top-ups there may be an additional $500 to $2150 in rebates available.
  • If your home is older, poorly insulated, drafty, or has less efficient space and water heating systems, it may be easier for you to achieve a greater percentage reduction in your EnerGuide score and receive a rebate in the upper range or even higher than the amounts shown above; if your home is newer, well insulated, well air sealed or has more efficient space and water heating systems, it may be harder for you to achieve a large percentage reduction in your EnerGuide score and you may receive a rebate in the lower range or lower than shown above.
  • Some types of changes to your home will increase the energy consumption of your home and reduce the Home Energy Improvement Bonus you may be eligible for: Switching from electricity to natural gas space or hot water heating systems, adding a new gas fireplace, adding new window or door openings, or expanding the size of your home.
  • Energy improvements that are not bonus eligible but improve the efficiency of your home will still be factored into the bonus rebate amount. For example, draftproofing, insulation upgrades under the eligibility threshold, solar hot water, and other upgrades will all improve the efficiency of your home and help boost your rebate amount

 

To get started: Schedule an EnerGuide home evaluation with a Program-Qualified Energy Advisor. The energy advisor will provide you with recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of your home and help you determine which upgrade options are bonus-eligible and what your bonus rebate is likely to be.

 

* The Home Energy Improvement Bonus amount is calculated as $20 multiplied by the percentage reduction in your home’s EnerGuide rating (in gigajoules per year, or GJ/year) between your pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation. Three eligible upgrades are required. To see an example of how the rebate is calculated, see How does the Home Energy Improvement Bonus Work?

**This Home Energy Improvement Bonus range is provided as an average range of rebates and includes the $300 EnerGuide Home Evaluation Rebate. The actual rebate you will receive will depend upon a wide range of factors.

How does the Home Energy Improvement Bonus work?

The Home Energy Improvement Bonus is a rebate of up to $2000 for improving your EnerGuide rating by installing three or more bonus-eligible upgrades. A pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation is required to determine the change in the EnerGuide rating of your home and the rebate amount. The Home Energy Improvement Bonus is paid out in addition to the rebates paid for eligible individual rebates.

Bonus-eligible upgrades include:

The Home Energy Improvement Bonus amount is calculated as $20 multiplied by the percentage reduction in your home’s EnerGuide rating (in gigajoules per year, or GJ/year) between your pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation.

For example: If your pre-retrofit EnerGuide rating was 250 GJ/year and your post-retrofit EnerGuide rating is 200 GJ/year you would do the following calculations:

  1. 250 GJ/year – 200 GJ/year = 50 GJ/year [This is the change in GJ/year of your EnerGuide rating.]
  2. 50 GJ/year ÷ 250 GJ/year = 0.20
  3. 20 x 100 = 20 [You have achieved a 20 percent reduction in your home’s EnerGuide rating.]
  4. $20.00 x 20 = $400.00 [This is the incentive you will receive, in addition to the individual rebates and the EnerGuide Home Evaluation Rebate.]

The Energy Efficiency Action Roadmap section of your EnerGuide Renovation Upgrade Report includes an estimate of GJ savings for recommended upgrades. See our FAQ How much will my incentive be for the Home Energy Improvement Bonus? to see the potential range of Home Energy Improvement Bonus rebate amounts based on the upgrades you do.

Keep in mind that not all upgrades recommended in your EnerGuide Renovation Upgrade Report are bonus-eligible. Always review the program terms and conditions before any renovations begin to ensure your upgrades will be eligible.

Even though some energy efficiency upgrades are not bonus-eligible, they may still improve your EnerGuide rating. For example, draftproofing (air sealing) is not a bonus-eligible upgrade but air sealing upgrades will improve (lower) your EnerGuide rating and allow you to access a higher bonus rebate.

If your renovation plans include upgrades that are not bonus eligible, ensure that at least three other upgrades are eligible so you can access the Home Energy Improvement Bonus. Other upgrades that are not bonus eligible but will contribute to lowering your EnerGuide rating and increasing your bonus rebate amount include:

  • Insulation upgrades that have received individual rebates under $500 in value or that are not eligible for the individual rebate (DIY installation)
  • Foundation insulation
  • Exposed floor, floor over crawlspace or basement header insulation
  • Solar hot water upgrades
  • Photovoltaic panels
  • Draftproofing/Air-sealing

To get started: Schedule an EnerGuide home evaluation with a Program-Qualified Energy Advisor. The energy advisor will provide you with recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of your home and can assist with determining which upgrade options are bonus-eligible.

What if I want to install an air-to-water heat pump or combination space and water heating heat pump?

Some systems may be eligible. Contact the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources for pre-approval before you install your system. Email betterhomesbc@gov.bc.ca with your location, current heating system, and the make and model of all components of your proposed heat pump system.

The proposed system must replace a fossil fuel (oil, propane or natural gas) heating system to be eligible and must be sufficiently sized to operate as the primary heating system for the home. A heat load calculation will be required.

How do I find eligible heat pump models?

Your HVAC contractor can help you select an eligible heat pump. Make sure to tell them you would like to install an eligible model and apply for rebates.

Eligible heat pumps can be found in the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute’s heat pump directories:

Mini-split systems

  • Tip: in the Quick Search Criteria choose “Mini-splits” in the Select Indoor Type
    • When upgrading from electric heating:
      • Single Head: SEER: 18 or higher, HSPF: 10 or higher
    • When upgrading from fossil fuel heating:
      • Single Head: SEER 16 or higher, HSPF: 9.3 or higher

Multi-split systems

  • Tip: in the Quick Search Criteria choose “Ducted Indoor Units,” “Non-Ducted Indoor Units,” “Mixed Ducted and Non-Ducted Indoor Units,” or “Specific” in the Select Indoor Type
    • When upgrading from electric heating:
      • Multi Head: SEER: 16 or higher, HSPF: 9.3 or higher
    • When upgrading from fossil fuel heating:
      • Multi Head: SEER: 16 or higher, HSPF: 9.3 or higher

Central Systems

  • Tip: in the Quick Search Criteria enter the minimum SEER and minimum HSPF (Region IV) values for the incentive you are applying for:
    • When upgrading from electric or fossil fuel heating:
      • Tier 1: SEER: 8.5 or higher, HSPF: 15 or higher
      • Tier 2: SEER: 9.3 or higher, HSPF: 16 or higher

Please see our FAQ, What are the heat pump requirements for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program? for a complete list of heat pump requirements.

Am I eligible for a heat pump rebate if it is combined with a gas, propane, or oil furnace as backup?

Heat pump eligibility depends on the type of back-up being installed with the heat pump.

Applicable to All Homes

  • Mini-split and multi-split heat pumps combined with natural gas or propane heating are not eligible for a heat pump rebate.

Homes Heated Primarily by Natural Gas or Propane

  • Homes that are primarily heated by natural gas or propane who convert their primary heating system a heat pump with to a gas backup are eligible a heat pump rebate provided:
    • Your home must have had natural gas or propane as the primary heating system for at least 12 consecutive months. This may be confirmed by reviewing your utility billing history.
    • They are replacing an existing natural gas propane or propane furnace as the primary heating system.
    • The thermostat, outdoor temperature switch-over control or equipment control board must be set to the following temperatures for the life of the system:
      • Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland: 0oC
      • Southern Interior and Northern BC: -5oC
    • The heat pump must be sized to ensure that it has the capacity to meet the heat demand at or below the temperature set points above.  A heat load calculation is required, see What are the load calculation requirements for heat pumps?
    • An AHRI certified reference number that references the outdoor unit and the indoor unit(s) of the heat pump of the purchased system.
    • Products with a maximum static pressure of less than 0.6” WC are not eligible.
    • You may re-use the existing air handler to create a combination gas furnace/heat pump system. The system must be modified according to all applicable laws.
  • Note: Combining a central heat pump with a natural gas backup or propane backup is eligible for the central heat pump rebate and any applicable Municipal Offers provided all other program Terms and Conditions are met.

 Homes Heated Primarily by Electricity

  • Homes that are primarily heated by electricity who install a heat pump with a gas backup are not eligible for a heat pump rebate.

Homes Heated Primarily by Oil

  • Any heat pumps combined with oil heating are not eligible for a heat pump rebate, unless they meet the following criteria:
    • Residents of Northern BC (ASHRAE Climate Zone 6, 7A, 7B or 8) with premises heated primarily by an oil furnace before the heat pump upgrade are exempt from the requirement to remove and decommission the oil furnace. They may still use the oil furnace as a back-up heating source.
    • For help identifying which climate zone your home is in, check out our What is my climate zone? FAQ.

 

How does the rebate program count windows/ what is a rough opening?

The number of windows or doors eligible for rebates is based on the number of rough openings in which windows or doors were replaced. A rough opening is the framed opening of a window or door that may be able to hold one or more windows and/or doors. Each rough opening is counted as one window and/or door. For example, a bay window, which may be made up of several window sections, is regarded as one rough opening.

What rebate is available for upgrading to a heat pump?

Up to $3,000 is available for air source heat pump upgrades from the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program. The rebate amount varies depending on your electricity provider (BC Hydro or FortisBC), your primary heating fuel before the upgrade, the type of heat pump you want to install (mini-split, multi-split or central system), and the efficiency ratings of the system. A table is available for reference below, summarizing available rebates.

Some municipalities are currently offering additional incentives for heat pumps that are replacing natural gas, propane, or oil heating systems.

For more information on heat pump eligibility, see our FAQ What are the heat pump requirements for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program?

For more information on what Municipal Offers are available, see our FAQ Are there Municipal Offers available and how do I access them?

 

Heat Pump Minimum Efficiency Ratings Rebate Amount
HSPF SEER Electricity from

BC Hydro

before upgrade

Electricity from

FortisBC

before upgrade

Fossil Fuel

(oil, propane or natural gas)

before upgrade

Variable Speed Mini Split

(single head installation)

>10.00 >18.00 $1,000 $1,200 N/A
Variable Speed  Mini Split

(single head installation)

>9.30 >16.00 N/A N/A $3,000
Variable Speed  Multi Split

(multiple head installation)

>9.30 >16.00 $1,000 $2,000 $3,000
Central System (Tier 1) >8.50 >15.00 N/A $1,200 $1,200
Variable Speed  Central System (Tier 2) >9.30 >16.00 $2,000 $2,000 $3,000
Combination Space and Water Heat Pump Requires pre-approval by contacting betterhomesbc@gov.bc.ca Up to $3,000 is available.

Check out the Combination Space and Water Heat Pump Incentive page for more information.

 

What are the heat pump requirements for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program?

Requirements for installing a heat pump vary depending on your electricity provider (BC Hydro or FortisBC), your primary heating fuel before the upgrade, the type of heat pump you want to install (mini-split or central system), and the efficiency ratings of the system.

For information on what rebates are available, see What rebate is available for upgrading to a heat pump?

General heat pump requirements:

  • Replacing or upgrading an existing or broken heat pump is not eligible for a rebate.
  • The heat pump must be installed by a licensed contractor with a valid BC business license for the trade applicable to the installation work.
  • Only air-source heat pumps are eligible for rebates. Geoexchange (ground-source) heat pumps are not eligible.
  • If the home is currently heated with electricity, the heat pump must replace a hard-wired electric heating system such as baseboards, radiant ceiling, radiant floors or forced air furnace. However, these systems do not need to be removed.
  • If the home is currently heated with oil, all oil heating equipment must be removed or decommissioned according to all relevant regulations and bylaws. If you are a resident of Northern BC (BCBC Climate Zone 6, 7A, 7B or 8) and currently heat your home with oil, please see the FAQ, Am I eligible for a heat pump rebate if it is combined with a gas, propane, or oil furnace as backup?
  • If the home is currently heated with natural gas, all gas heating equipment must be removed, decommissioned, or modified according to all relevant regulations and bylaws. For a Tier 2 central heat pump, an existing natural gas furnace air handler may be re-used if its model number is included on the AHRI certificate for the new system. For more information and additional requirements, please see the FAQ Am I eligible for a heat pump rebate if it is combined with a gas, propane, or oil furnace as backup?
  • See program terms and conditions for additional requirements.

 

Mini-Split Single Head Installation Requirements:

  • When converting from fossil fuel heating, the system must have a SEER rating of 16 or higher, a HSPF of 9.3 or higher, a variable speed compressor, and an AHRI certified reference number.
  • When converting from electric heating, the system must have a SEER rating of 18 or higher, a HSPF of 10 or higher, a variable speed compressor, and an AHRI certified reference number.
  • If the home was heated primarily by fossil fuels (oil, natural gas or propane) prior to the installation of the new heat pump, all such fossil fuel heating equipment must be removed or decommissioned in accordance with all applicable laws.
  • The indoor unit (head) must serve a main living area of the home.
  • Premises with a natural gas or propane fireplace are eligible if the fireplace is a secondary heating system.
  • Single head mini-split heat pumps cannot have a fossil fuel back-up system.

 

Mini-Split Multiple Head Installation Requirements:

  • The system must have a SEER rating of 16 or higher, a HSPF of 9.5 or higher, a variable speed compressor, and an AHRI certified reference number.
  • If the home was heated primarily by fossil fuels (oil, natural gas or propane) prior to the installation of the new heat pump, all such fossil fuel heating equipment must be removed or decommissioned in accordance with all applicable laws.
  • At least one indoor unit (head) must serve a main living area of the home.
  • Multi-head mini-split heat pumps cannot have a fossil fuel back-up system.

 

Central Heat Pump Requirements:

Tier 1 Central Heat Pump Requirements:

  • Only homes that are heated primarily by electricity provided by FortisBC or by fossil fuels are eligible for the Tier 1 Central Heat Pump rebate.
  • The system must have a SEER rating of 15, a HSPF of 8.5 or higher, and an AHRI certified reference number.
  • A variable speed compressor is not required.

 

Tier 2 Central Heat Pump Requirements:

  • The system must have a SEER rating of 16 or higher, a HSPF of 9.5 or higher, a variable speed compressor, and an AHRI certified reference number.

 

Central Heat Pump Requirements – Tier 1 & Tier 2:

  • The system must have a maximum static pressure of 0.6” WC or higher. This information is available in the technical specifications of a heat pump system.
  • If the Premises was heated primarily by oil before the heat pump upgrade, the heat pump must replace the oil heating system and all such oil heating equipment (tank, furnace or boiler, and associated infrastructure) must be removed or decommissioned in accordance with all applicable laws.
  • If the Premises was heated primarily by gas or propane before the heat pump upgrade and the heat pump is replacing the gas or propane heating system, all gas heating equipment (piping, appliances, fuel containers, vents and associated infrastructure) must be removed, decommissioned or modified in accordance with all applicable laws.
  • If the Premises was heated primarily by gas or propane before the heat pump upgrade and the heat pump is being integrated into a combination gas furnace/electric heat pump, all such gas heating equipment (piping, appliance, fuel containers, vents and associated infrastructure) must be modified in accordance with all applicable laws. Combination gas furnace/electric heat pump systems are only eligible, provided:
    • If the gas furnace/electric heat pump system has been installed after November 01, 2018, a heating and cooling load calculation is completed to properly size the system. See What are the load calculation requirements for heat pumps? For more information.
    • The thermostat, outdoor temperature switch-over control or equipment control board is set to the following region-specific temperatures for the duration of the product lifetime:
      • Switch-over temperature for the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island regions: 0°C.
      • Switch-over temperature for the Southern Interior and Northern BC: -5°C;
    • The heat pump must be sized to ensure that it has the capacity to meet the Premises’ heat demand at or below the region-specific outdoor set-point.
    • The system, whether purchased as a whole new system or created by retrofitting an existing gas furnace, must have an AHRI certified reference number that shows the outdoor unit, indoor unit and furnace are a tested combination. An existing furnace air handler may be re-used if its model number is included on the AHRI certificate for the new system.

What are the load calculation requirements for heat pumps?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program requires that load calculations are performed to qualify for a rebate in dual-fuel heating systems. While CleanBC strongly recommends load calculations be completed for all heat pump installations, at this time, the requirement only applies to air-source heat pump installations that are combined with a natural gas or propane furnace as backup. Please see below for the load calculation requirements for dual-fuel systems.

 

 Load Calculation Requirements

A load calculation is required for all air-source heat pumps in a dual-fuel furnace/heat pump system that are installed on or after November 1, 2018. This is being required to ensure the equipment is sized per program requirements (which helps to ensure program objectives of emission reduction occur) and encourage high-quality installations.

 

Rule-of-thumb equipment sizing will not be accepted.

Contractors can perform the load calculation by using any of the following options:

 

A copy of the load calculation is part of the required documentation. The load calculation can be documented by a submittal sheet from compliant software or by a load calculation worksheet from TECA, HRAI, ACCA or the CSA F280 standard.

If your contractor is not sure if their current heat load calculation methodology meets these criteria, please have them contact betterhomesbc@gov.bc.ca.

The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) and the Thermal Environment Comfort Association (TECA) both offer training courses on CAN/CSA F280-12 load calculations. HRAI offers a 4-day course in Victoria and Vancouver. TECA is currently updating its Forced Air Guidelines Course with CAN/CSA F280-12 material and will be offering it throughout BC. Both organisations also offer technical manuals on residential heat loss and heat gain load calculations. There are a large number of available software solutions and mobile apps that allow you to do Manual J calculations.

 

How are insulation rebates calculated?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program requires the following information to calculate your rebate:

  • The R-value of new insulation added
  • The square feet covered by new insulation

The R-value that you have added is multiplied by the square feet covered, and then by a specific dollar amount that differs for each area of your home, as indicated in the table below.

Location Installed Minimum R-Value Added Dollar amount for rebate calculation Maximum Rebate
Attic (flat and cathedral ceiling) R12 $0.02 $900
Exterior wall cavities R12 $0.09 $1200
Exterior wall sheathing R3.8 $0.09 $1200
Basement/crawlspace Walls R10 $0.09 $1200
Other (exposed floor, floor over crawlspace, basement header) R20 $0.07 $1000

Example: I had R20 of existing insulation in my attic and added R30 for a total of R50. I covered 900 square feet. My rebate is calculated as follows:

R30 × 900 sf x $0.02 = $540

My rebate for this work is $540.

Please note:

  • Rebates are calculated based on the R-value of new insulation added and not the total combined final R-value for new and pre-existing insulation.
  • The insulation added must have a minimum R-value added per location outlined in the table above.
  • A minimum rebate of $500 is required for each insulation location to be eligible for either for both the Two Upgrade Bonus and the Home Energy Improvement Bonus.
  • The insulation rebate amount cannot exceed the installed cost of the eligible upgrade indicated on the invoice.
  • You cannot access a rebate for both crawlspace wall and floor above crawlspace – you must choose one or the other.

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

Are there any Municipal Offers (local government top-ups)?

Some municipalities are offering top-up rebates for heat pumps and EnerGuide home evaluations. Municipal heat pump rebates are available for homes that are converting from fossil fuel heating (natural gas, oil or propane) to an electric air-source heat pump for space heating. EnerGuide home evaluation rebate top ups are available for all homes, regardless of heating fuel.

Municipal top-up rebates are automatically calculated when participants submit their program application online. No additional paperwork is required.

Municipal Offers vary by location, check out our rebate search tool for offers in your area.

Does foil insulation count towards the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program terms and conditions state that batts, loose fill, board and spray foam are eligible insulation types. Only products with Canadian R-values provided by the manufacturer are accepted. “System values” or values of materials not tested to Canadian national thermal insulation standards cannot be used for determining the amount of insulation added.

However, your contractor may install insulation that is foil backed. The insulating value of this is obtained by adding the thermal resistance value (R-value) of the insulation to the R-value of the foil insulation. If the R-value of the insulation (excluding the foil) meet the minimum requirements of the rebate program, it will be eligible and you can count it towards the insulation rebate.

Foil insulation is essentially a plastic bubble wrap sheet with a reflective foil layer, belonging to a class of products known as radiant foils. In Canada, these types of insulation often have R-values of R0 to R3.5. If there is no air space or clear bubble layer the R-value is R-0. Keeping the performance attribute of foil insulation in mind when planning insulation upgrades is important to ensure your upgrade maximizes its performance effectiveness. For more information on the different types of insulation, visit the Natural Resources Canada resource, Keeping The Heat In.

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

Are there any rebates for draftproofing?

There are currently no individual rebates for draftproofing (air sealing). However, draftproofing can reduce energy use in your home and increase the rebate amount of the Home Energy Improvement Bonus.

The Home Energy Improvement Bonus requires that you complete a minimum of 3 eligible upgrades between a pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation. The rebate amount is calculated based on the percentage reduction in your EnerGuide rating, measured in gigajoules per year (GJ/year). $20 is provided for every percent reduction in your EnerGuide rating.

Draftproofing leads to a more airtight building envelope which means a more energy efficient home and a decrease in your post-retrofit EnerGuide rating. Remember – the lower your EnerGuide rating the more efficient your home!

How much draftproofing may contribute to your Home Energy Improvement Bonus amount is highly variable and depends on how drafty your home was prior to draftproofing and on the quality of installation of the upgrades that are undertaken in your home. It is important to note that well-installed windows, doors, insulation and other upgrades can contribute to making your home less drafty and will provide you with a higher Home Energy Improvement Bonus rebate amount.

To get started: Schedule an EnerGuide home evaluation with a program-qualified energy advisor. The energy advisor will provide you with a list of draftproofing opportunities and identify the potential for improving your home’s energy efficiency, reducing your EnerGuide rating and accessing the bonus rebate.

What is meant by “12 months of consecutive billing history”?

Some rebate programs require that your home has 12 months of consecutive utility billing history prior to the installation of energy efficiency upgrade(s).

This requirement is regarding the utility billing history of the home itself. It does not have to be your personal utility billing history. It means that the house has to have been occupied for at least 12 months immediately prior to your application. In other words, newly constructed homes are not eligible for the program.

If you recently purchased an existing home, as long as someone was occupying the home for 12 months before your renovations begin, the home will have 12 months of consecutive billing history.

If you are unsure of your home’s utility usage, and would like to confirm your eligibility, contact your utility provider.

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

Am I required to have an EnerGuide home evaluation in order to apply for rebates?

Some incentive programs require an EnerGuide home evaluation prior to completing upgrades and after upgrades are completed. Other programs recommend but do not require an EnerGuide home evaluation.

Be sure to find out before you start your renovations if you need an energy evaluation. Visit our rebate search tool for program details or click here to locate an energy advisor.

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

Can I receive a rebate if I already installed the upgrade?

The deadlines and eligibility criteria vary across the different rebate programs, so it is important to check the details for the specific program you are pursuing.

Use the rebate search tool to find rebate programs for the energy upgrades that you have completed and to check if you still have time to apply. Along with submitting your application on time, it is important to ensure that you have met the program’s eligibility requirements.

Some rebates require you to have completed an EnerGuide home evaluation before you installed your upgrades. If you did not have an evaluation prior to installing the upgrade, you will not be eligible for the rebate.

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

Is my home eligible for rebates or an EnerGuide home evaluation?

To access rebates through the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program, or to have an EnerGuide home evaluation completed, your home must meet the eligibility criteria outlined below.

CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program

To be eligible for this rebate program, homes must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be connected with a current residential utility service account to FortisBC and/or BC Hydro. Electrically heated homes served by local municipal utilities within the service territories of BC Hydro or FortisBC (electricity) are also eligible.
  • Be one of the following types of residential buildings:
    • single family detached dwelling;
    • mobile home on a permanent foundation;
    • or side-by-side duplex, side-by-side row home or townhouse (provided that each unit has its own natural gas and/or electricity meter). Utility accounts in the name of a strata corporation are not eligible.
  • Have 12 months of consecutive utility billing history for the period immediately prior to the installation of energy efficiency upgrade(s).

Please note: Multi-unit residential buildings (such as high-rises and apartment buildings), garages, workshops, and out buildings are not eligible for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program.

EnerGuide Home Evaluation

To be eligible for an EnerGuide evaluation for existing homes, your home must be one of the following home types:

  • single family detached
  • semi-detached
  • row home or town home
  • mobile home on a permanent foundation
  • permanently moored float home

A home must also be in an ‘eligible state’, which means that:

  • The building is resting on a permanent foundation(s) or is a permanently moored float home.
  • There is a space heating system in place at the time of the evaluation that is capable (or was, in the case of a heating system failure) of keeping the interior living space at 21 degrees Celsius.
  • The envelope is intact, including the exposed ceilings, exterior walls, exposed floors, windows and doors, and interior and exterior finishes (e.g., drywall, and exterior siding).
  • Up to one window or door unit can be missing as long as it is temporarily air sealed (e.g., covered with plywood with seams and edges sealed with caulking). Any broken window panes must also be air sealed (e.g., with taped polyethylene) for the duration of the blower door test. If the temporary air sealing fails during the blower door test, the building will be considered ineligible.
  • Any renovations underway only affect interior partitions of the dwelling and do not perforate the building envelope.
  • There must be a supply of standard AC electrical power available. If power is not available from a utility, the homeowner must come to an agreement with the service organization about arranging for a suitable power supply to operate the blower door test equipment.

For more information on eligibility requirements for energy evaluations for new homes please visit Natural Resources Canada’s Homebuilders webpage. For energy evaluations for mixed-use or multi-unit residential buildings, contact a program-qualified energy advisor or service organization in your area.

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

Can I replace my window panes and/or sills but not the frames?

No. You must replace the entire window, including the frame, in order for your window upgrade to be eligible for a rebate or to count toward the Bonus Offers. The whole window assembly must be ENERGY STAR®  certified and must be listed on the ENERGY STAR certified fenestration list for windows and doors. For complete window and door eligibility requirements, see the Window and Door Rebate page.

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

General Eligibility

What do the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs define as my Primary Heating System?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs Terms and Conditions include primary heating systems as one of the determining factors for eligibility.

To participate in the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs, the home must be heated by an eligible primary heating system that uses an eligible fuel type.

Eligible fuel types:

  • Electricity supplied by BC Hydro
  • Natural gas supplied by FortisBC Energy Inc.
  • Natural gas supplied by Pacific Northern Gas Ltd.
  • Piped-propane supplied by FortisBC Energy Inc.
  • Electricity supplied by FortisBC Inc.
  • Oil
  • Propane (not supplied by FortisBC)
  • Electricity supplied by a Municipal Utility

Note: Participants using Pacific Northern Gas (PNG) Natural Gas for their Primary Heating System are currently not eligible for Natural Gas Furnace rebates, Natural Gas Boiler rebates, Natural Gas Fireplace rebates, or Natural Gas Water Heater rebates. They are eligible for insulation rebates, window/door rebates, fuel switch heat pump rebates, heat pump hot water rebates, as well as bonus offers and EnerGuide home evaluation rebates.

The Terms and Conditions define a Primary Heating System as:

  • A primary heating system is a heating system with the capacity to heat a minimum of 50% of the home for the entire heating season to 21ºC.
  • Determination of the primary heating type is at the sole discretion of the Partners.

Clarifications and Exceptions for determining your Primary Heating System

  • Wood fireplaces, natural gas fireplaces, and propane fireplaces are not considered primary heating systems by the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs even if it is the only heating system in use on the premises or if the system has the capacity and is used to heat a minimum of 50% of the home for the entire heating season.
  • Where both a Primary Heating System and Fireplace are present, the Fireplace will not be considered the primary heating system.

 What is my Primary Heating System?

When determining the rebate you may be eligible for, the heating system(s) present on site prior to the installation of the new primary heating system will determine the space heating rebates available to you through the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs.

Primary Heating System Type System Fuel Type Available Primary Space Heating Rebates Notes
Electric Baseboard / Wall Heater Electricity
  • Electric-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate
  • No rebates for installing electric baseboards
  • No rebates for installing electric furnaces
  • No rebates for converting from electricity to natural gas primary heating systems
Electric Furnace Electricity
  • Electric-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate
  • No rebates for installing electric baseboards
  • No rebates for installing electric furnaces
  • No rebates for converting from electricity to natural gas primary heating systems
Electric Heat Pump Electricity
  • There are no rebates for replacing an existing heat pump
Electric Combination Space / Water Heat Pump Electricity
  • There are no rebates for replacing an existing heat pump
Electric Air-to-Water Heat Pump Electricity
  • There are no rebates for replacing an existing heat pump
Natural Gas Furnace Natural Gas
  • Fossil Fuel-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate
  • Natural Gas Furnace
  • Natural Gas Boiler
Natural Gas Boiler or Combination System Natural Gas
  • Fossil Fuel-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate
  • Natural Gas Furnace
  • Natural Gas Boiler
Propane Furnace Propane
  • Fossil Fuel-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate

 

Propane Boiler Propane
  • Fossil Fuel-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate

 

Oil Furnace Oil
  • Fossil Fuel-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate

 

Oil Boiler Oil
  • Fossil Fuel-to-Electric Heat Pump Rebate

 

Woodstove Wood

(solid fuel)

  • None
  • Homes primarily heated by wood or other solid fuels are not eligible to participate in this program.

 

Examples of Determining Primary Heating System:

  • Electric baseboards and a natural gas fireplace are present in the same home. The electric baseboards are the primary heating system.
  • An oil boiler or furnace and natural gas fireplace are present in the same home. The oil boiler or furnace is the primary heating system.
  • A natural gas furnace and a natural gas fireplace are present in the same home. The natural gas furnace is the primary heating system.
  • A heat pump and a wood fireplace are present in the same home. The heat pump is the primary heating system.

Heat Pump Rebates are Not Available When:

  • There is a heat pump on the premises already. This applies whether the heat pump is functioning or not functioning.
  • The Primary Heating System is a woodstove (solid fuel).
  • The home is not an eligible home type.
  • The heat pump that is installed does not meet minimum program requirements.

I am not in an eligible home, are there any rebates I can access?

If the home you are upgrading or have upgraded is not eligible for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program but is heated primarily by FortisBC natural gas that is billed at a residential rate, you may be eligible to receive rebates directly through FortisBC.

  • To apply for these rebates, use the application forms available directly through FortisBC
  • Applications must also be submitted directly to FortisBC.

If the building you are upgrading is a high-rise building, an apartment building, a stacked townhouse, or condominium that is billed at a commercial rate, your building may be considered a Commercial Building in regards to rebate programs.

  • Commercial Rebate Programs are listed in our rebate search tool. Select Commercial Renovation from the Building Type list.
  • Income qualified households may be able to access free Energy Saving Kits

What if I started my renovations before April 01 2019?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program, formerly known as the Home Renovation Rebate and EfficiencyBC Program, provides rebates based on the dates of your invoices.  Rebate amounts may vary.

Rebates available between September 28, 2018 and March 31, 2019:

  • Invoices dated between September 28, 2018 and March 31, 2019 are processed under these CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program terms & conditions
  • Upgrades with invoices dated between September 28, 2018 and March 31, 2019 will be processed with the rebates below.

Mini-Split and Multi-Split Heat Pumps

Heat Pump Type Requirements Primary Fuel Before Upgrade Rebate
Single-Head
Mini-Split
SEER >18.00
HSPF >10.00
Variable Speed Compressor
FortisBC Electricity $1,200
BC Hydro Electricity $1,000
Fossil Fuel (Oil, Propane, or Natural Gas) $2,000
Multi-Head
Mini-Split
SEER >16.00
HSPF >9.50
Variable Speed Compressor
FortisBC Electricity $2,000
BC Hydro Electricity $1,000
Fossil Fuel (Oil, Propane, or Natural Gas) $2,000

Central Heat Pumps

Heat Pump Type Requirements Primary Fuel Before Upgrade Rebate
Tier 1 Central SEER >15.00
HSPF >8.50
FortisBC Electricity $1,200
BC Hydro Electricity No Rebate
Tier 2 Central SEER >16.00
HSPF >9.50
Variable Speed Compressor
FortisBC Electricity $2,000
BC Hydro Electricity $2,000
Fossil Fuel (Oil, Propane, or Natural Gas) $2,000

Combination Space and Water Heat Pump

Heat Pump Type Requirements Primary Space Heating Fuel Before Upgrade Primary Water Heating Fuel Before Upgrade Bonus Offer Count Rebate
Combination Space and Water Heat Pump Requires pre-approval from betterhomesbc@gov.bc.ca before installation Fossil Fuel Fossil Fuel 2 $3,000
Fossil Fuel Electric 1 $3,000
Electric Fossil Fuel 1 $1,000
Electric Electric N/A   $0

 Window and Door Replacements

  • New windows/doors must be ENERGY STAR® certified. The products must be listed on the ENERGY STAR certified fenestration list for windows and doors.
  • New windows/doors must have a metric U-Factor of 1.22 (W/m2·K) or lower.
  • Rebate of $50 per window and door, maximum of $1,000.

 

What if I started my renovations before September 28, 2018?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program, formerly known as the Home Renovation Rebate Program, provides rebates based on the dates of your pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluations and upgrade invoices. Program terms and conditions may vary depending on invoice dates.

Affected Rebates:

  • $750 Bonus Offer
  • Draftproofing Rebate
  • $150 Energy Coach Home Evaluation Rebate
  • Home Energy Improvement Bonus
  • Two Upgrade Bonus

How to Apply:

  • If you were electrically heated prior to your upgrades, email the program directly at homerebates@bchydro.com with all supporting documentation.
  • If you were heated with natural gas or propane prior to your upgrades, email the program directly at homerebates@fortisbc.com with all supporting documentation.
  • The program administration will assist you with the processing of your application to determine what Bonus Offer and rebates you are to access.
Include the following supporting documentation and necessary information with your email:
  • Date of pre-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation.
  • Date of all eligible upgrade invoices detailed with contractor name, contractor company, upgrade details, and paid totals. Please see sample invoices for reference.
  • All supporting documentation associated with upgrades, including equipment removal or decommission reports (if applicable).
  • Date of post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation, if completed.

Important Notes:

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

Are there any Municipal Offers (local government top-ups)?

Some municipalities are offering top-up rebates for heat pumps and EnerGuide home evaluations. Municipal heat pump rebates are available for homes that are converting from fossil fuel heating (natural gas, oil or propane) to an electric air-source heat pump for space heating. EnerGuide home evaluation rebate top ups are available for all homes, regardless of heating fuel.

Municipal top-up rebates are automatically calculated when participants submit their program application online. No additional paperwork is required.

Municipal Offers vary by location, check out our rebate search tool for offers in your area.

What is meant by “12 months of consecutive billing history”?

Some rebate programs require that your home has 12 months of consecutive utility billing history prior to the installation of energy efficiency upgrade(s).

This requirement is regarding the utility billing history of the home itself. It does not have to be your personal utility billing history. It means that the house has to have been occupied for at least 12 months immediately prior to your application. In other words, newly constructed homes are not eligible for the program.

If you recently purchased an existing home, as long as someone was occupying the home for 12 months before your renovations begin, the home will have 12 months of consecutive billing history.

If you are unsure of your home’s utility usage, and would like to confirm your eligibility, contact your utility provider.

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

Am I required to have an EnerGuide home evaluation in order to apply for rebates?

Some incentive programs require an EnerGuide home evaluation prior to completing upgrades and after upgrades are completed. Other programs recommend but do not require an EnerGuide home evaluation.

Be sure to find out before you start your renovations if you need an energy evaluation. Visit our rebate search tool for program details or click here to locate an energy advisor.

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

Can I receive a rebate if I already installed the upgrade?

The deadlines and eligibility criteria vary across the different rebate programs, so it is important to check the details for the specific program you are pursuing.

Use the rebate search tool to find rebate programs for the energy upgrades that you have completed and to check if you still have time to apply. Along with submitting your application on time, it is important to ensure that you have met the program’s eligibility requirements.

Some rebates require you to have completed an EnerGuide home evaluation before you installed your upgrades. If you did not have an evaluation prior to installing the upgrade, you will not be eligible for the rebate.

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

Is my home eligible for rebates or an EnerGuide home evaluation?

To access rebates through the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program, or to have an EnerGuide home evaluation completed, your home must meet the eligibility criteria outlined below.

CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program

To be eligible for this rebate program, homes must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be connected with a current residential utility service account to FortisBC and/or BC Hydro. Electrically heated homes served by local municipal utilities within the service territories of BC Hydro or FortisBC (electricity) are also eligible.
  • Be one of the following types of residential buildings:
    • single family detached dwelling;
    • mobile home on a permanent foundation;
    • or side-by-side duplex, side-by-side row home or townhouse (provided that each unit has its own natural gas and/or electricity meter). Utility accounts in the name of a strata corporation are not eligible.
  • Have 12 months of consecutive utility billing history for the period immediately prior to the installation of energy efficiency upgrade(s).

Please note: Multi-unit residential buildings (such as high-rises and apartment buildings), garages, workshops, and out buildings are not eligible for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program.

EnerGuide Home Evaluation

To be eligible for an EnerGuide evaluation for existing homes, your home must be one of the following home types:

  • single family detached
  • semi-detached
  • row home or town home
  • mobile home on a permanent foundation
  • permanently moored float home

A home must also be in an ‘eligible state’, which means that:

  • The building is resting on a permanent foundation(s) or is a permanently moored float home.
  • There is a space heating system in place at the time of the evaluation that is capable (or was, in the case of a heating system failure) of keeping the interior living space at 21 degrees Celsius.
  • The envelope is intact, including the exposed ceilings, exterior walls, exposed floors, windows and doors, and interior and exterior finishes (e.g., drywall, and exterior siding).
  • Up to one window or door unit can be missing as long as it is temporarily air sealed (e.g., covered with plywood with seams and edges sealed with caulking). Any broken window panes must also be air sealed (e.g., with taped polyethylene) for the duration of the blower door test. If the temporary air sealing fails during the blower door test, the building will be considered ineligible.
  • Any renovations underway only affect interior partitions of the dwelling and do not perforate the building envelope.
  • There must be a supply of standard AC electrical power available. If power is not available from a utility, the homeowner must come to an agreement with the service organization about arranging for a suitable power supply to operate the blower door test equipment.

For more information on eligibility requirements for energy evaluations for new homes please visit Natural Resources Canada’s Homebuilders webpage. For energy evaluations for mixed-use or multi-unit residential buildings, contact a program-qualified energy advisor or service organization in your area.

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

Window and Door Eligibility

How can I convert an imperial U-factor to a metric U-factor?

U-factor can be expressed in metric units (W/m2·K) or imperial inch-pound units (Btu/h·ft2·F).

To convert imperial u-factors to metric u-factors, multiply by 5.678.

Example: My contractor has given me a quote for five new windows that I would like to replace. My contractor says they have a U-factor in imperial units (Btu/h·ft2·F) of 0.21 and I want to know what that is in metric units.

0.21 x 5.678 = 1.19 (W/m2·K)

New windows typically have a U-factor between 1.00 and 1.80 (W/m2·K), which converts to between 0.18 and 0.32 (Btu/h·ft2·F).

In order to receive a window rebate through the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program, your windows must be ENERGY STAR® certified, have a metric U-factor (W/m2·K) of 1.23 – 1.4 for Tier 1 rebates or a metric u-factor (W/m2·K) of 1.22 or less for Tier 2 rebates and be listed on Natural Resource Canada’s ENERGY STAR certified fenestration product list.  Learn more about this rebate here.

Why does the rebate only apply to windows that are ENERGY STAR® Certified with a maximum U-factor of 1.40 (W/m2·K)?

The Tier 1 window and door rebate and the Tier 2 window and door rebate is designed to help with the additional cost of highly energy efficient windows.

ENERGY STAR certification with an U-factor < 1.40 (W/m2·K) is an industry benchmark for above average window performance. The U-factor maximum of 1.22 (W/m2·K) for Tier 2 window rebates aligns with the next update to ENERGY STAR specifications (effective January 2020) as well as Provincial and Federal policies on energy efficient equipment in the building sector.

What are the ENERGY STAR® Climate Zone requirements for window and door installations?

There is no climate zone requirement for window and door installations, but all windows and doors must be ENERGY STAR® certified (any zone) and have a maximum U-factor of 1.40 (W/m2·K), regardless of installation location. Eligible windows and doors can be found on Natural Resource Canada’s ENERGY STAR® certified fenestration product list.

How does the rebate program count windows/ what is a rough opening?

The number of windows or doors eligible for rebates is based on the number of rough openings in which windows or doors were replaced. A rough opening is the framed opening of a window or door that may be able to hold one or more windows and/or doors. Each rough opening is counted as one window and/or door. For example, a bay window, which may be made up of several window sections, is regarded as one rough opening.

Can I replace my window panes and/or sills but not the frames?

No. You must replace the entire window, including the frame, in order for your window upgrade to be eligible for a rebate or to count toward the Bonus Offers. The whole window assembly must be ENERGY STAR®  certified and must be listed on the ENERGY STAR certified fenestration list for windows and doors. For complete window and door eligibility requirements, see the Window and Door Rebate page.

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

Heat Pump Eligibility

Why is a variable speed compressor required for many heat pump rebates?

A variable speed compressor is an inverter driven compressor that can adjust its operating speed to match a home’s heat demand. Compared to conventional systems, variable speed systems have higher customer satisfaction rates, increased energy savings and less impact on the electrical grid. For these reasons, a variable speed compressor is required for mini-split, multi-split, and Tier 2 central heat pump rebates.

Variable speed compressors are very common in ductless mini-split systems but are available for mid and high-performance central systems as well. Heat pump installers are advised to speak with their equipment distributors about variable speed product options.

General benefits to a homeowner:

  • More consistent indoor temperatures
  • Quieter start-up of the outdoor unit
  • Quieter operation due to increased time operating at low speeds/airflow
  • Lower energy bills and better return on investment

Performance improvements relative to conventional systems:

  • Higher efficiency at partial loads and significant seasonal energy savings, beyond what is captured in the HSPF and SEER ratings
  • Higher capacity in cold weather and a better match to a home’s heating needs
  • Faster defrost cycles
  • At partial load operation, lower airflow requirements mitigate issues associated with high static pressure in existing ductwork
  • Allows equipment to be sized for heating needs, while maintaining high performance in cooling operation.
  • Gradual start-up is easier on equipment
  • Gradual start-up is easier on local electrical grids
  • Increased performance reduces peak energy demand in the heating season

Does the heat pump contractor or homeowner have to provide a capacity specifications sheet from the heat pump manufacturer as part of the program application?

No. The heat pump’s capacity is linked to the AHRI certified reference number (and AHRI certificate) for the system. The AHRI certified reference number (or AHRI certificate) is required for the program application.

What Region is used for the HSPF rating requirements for heat pump installations? Region 4 or 5?

The minimum HSPF rating requirements for all heat pump installations are based on Region 4, regardless of location. Unless otherwise specified, manufacturers’ published HSPF ratings and the HSPF ratings published in the Air-Conditioning, Heating, & Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) Directory of Certified Product Performance are based on Region 4. The ratings found in the AHRI directory can be used to fulfill program requirements.

HSPF ratings for Region 5 are sometimes referenced in regulations or shown in reference to a heat pump’s performance in a specific climate. Region 5 metrics come from equipment test data and cannot be directly converted to Region 4 metrics. Region 5 metrics can be requested from manufacturers, but Region 4 metrics should be used for program requirements.

What if I want to install an air-to-water heat pump or combination space and water heating heat pump?

Some systems may be eligible. Contact the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources for pre-approval before you install your system. Email betterhomesbc@gov.bc.ca with your location, current heating system, and the make and model of all components of your proposed heat pump system.

The proposed system must replace a fossil fuel (oil, propane or natural gas) heating system to be eligible and must be sufficiently sized to operate as the primary heating system for the home. A heat load calculation will be required.

How do I find eligible heat pump models?

Your HVAC contractor can help you select an eligible heat pump. Make sure to tell them you would like to install an eligible model and apply for rebates.

Eligible heat pumps can be found in the Air Conditioning, Heating & Refrigeration Institute’s heat pump directories:

Mini-split systems

  • Tip: in the Quick Search Criteria choose “Mini-splits” in the Select Indoor Type
    • When upgrading from electric heating:
      • Single Head: SEER: 18 or higher, HSPF: 10 or higher
    • When upgrading from fossil fuel heating:
      • Single Head: SEER 16 or higher, HSPF: 9.3 or higher

Multi-split systems

  • Tip: in the Quick Search Criteria choose “Ducted Indoor Units,” “Non-Ducted Indoor Units,” “Mixed Ducted and Non-Ducted Indoor Units,” or “Specific” in the Select Indoor Type
    • When upgrading from electric heating:
      • Multi Head: SEER: 16 or higher, HSPF: 9.3 or higher
    • When upgrading from fossil fuel heating:
      • Multi Head: SEER: 16 or higher, HSPF: 9.3 or higher

Central Systems

  • Tip: in the Quick Search Criteria enter the minimum SEER and minimum HSPF (Region IV) values for the incentive you are applying for:
    • When upgrading from electric or fossil fuel heating:
      • Tier 1: SEER: 8.5 or higher, HSPF: 15 or higher
      • Tier 2: SEER: 9.3 or higher, HSPF: 16 or higher

Please see our FAQ, What are the heat pump requirements for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program? for a complete list of heat pump requirements.

Am I eligible for a heat pump rebate if it is combined with a gas, propane, or oil furnace as backup?

Heat pump eligibility depends on the type of back-up being installed with the heat pump.

Applicable to All Homes

  • Mini-split and multi-split heat pumps combined with natural gas or propane heating are not eligible for a heat pump rebate.

Homes Heated Primarily by Natural Gas or Propane

  • Homes that are primarily heated by natural gas or propane who convert their primary heating system a heat pump with to a gas backup are eligible a heat pump rebate provided:
    • Your home must have had natural gas or propane as the primary heating system for at least 12 consecutive months. This may be confirmed by reviewing your utility billing history.
    • They are replacing an existing natural gas propane or propane furnace as the primary heating system.
    • The thermostat, outdoor temperature switch-over control or equipment control board must be set to the following temperatures for the life of the system:
      • Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland: 0oC
      • Southern Interior and Northern BC: -5oC
    • The heat pump must be sized to ensure that it has the capacity to meet the heat demand at or below the temperature set points above.  A heat load calculation is required, see What are the load calculation requirements for heat pumps?
    • An AHRI certified reference number that references the outdoor unit and the indoor unit(s) of the heat pump of the purchased system.
    • Products with a maximum static pressure of less than 0.6” WC are not eligible.
    • You may re-use the existing air handler to create a combination gas furnace/heat pump system. The system must be modified according to all applicable laws.
  • Note: Combining a central heat pump with a natural gas backup or propane backup is eligible for the central heat pump rebate and any applicable Municipal Offers provided all other program Terms and Conditions are met.

 Homes Heated Primarily by Electricity

  • Homes that are primarily heated by electricity who install a heat pump with a gas backup are not eligible for a heat pump rebate.

Homes Heated Primarily by Oil

  • Any heat pumps combined with oil heating are not eligible for a heat pump rebate, unless they meet the following criteria:
    • Residents of Northern BC (ASHRAE Climate Zone 6, 7A, 7B or 8) with premises heated primarily by an oil furnace before the heat pump upgrade are exempt from the requirement to remove and decommission the oil furnace. They may still use the oil furnace as a back-up heating source.
    • For help identifying which climate zone your home is in, check out our What is my climate zone? FAQ.

 

What rebate is available for upgrading to a heat pump?

Up to $3,000 is available for air source heat pump upgrades from the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program. The rebate amount varies depending on your electricity provider (BC Hydro or FortisBC), your primary heating fuel before the upgrade, the type of heat pump you want to install (mini-split, multi-split or central system), and the efficiency ratings of the system. A table is available for reference below, summarizing available rebates.

Some municipalities are currently offering additional incentives for heat pumps that are replacing natural gas, propane, or oil heating systems.

For more information on heat pump eligibility, see our FAQ What are the heat pump requirements for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program?

For more information on what Municipal Offers are available, see our FAQ Are there Municipal Offers available and how do I access them?

 

Heat Pump Minimum Efficiency Ratings Rebate Amount
HSPF SEER Electricity from

BC Hydro

before upgrade

Electricity from

FortisBC

before upgrade

Fossil Fuel

(oil, propane or natural gas)

before upgrade

Variable Speed Mini Split

(single head installation)

>10.00 >18.00 $1,000 $1,200 N/A
Variable Speed  Mini Split

(single head installation)

>9.30 >16.00 N/A N/A $3,000
Variable Speed  Multi Split

(multiple head installation)

>9.30 >16.00 $1,000 $2,000 $3,000
Central System (Tier 1) >8.50 >15.00 N/A $1,200 $1,200
Variable Speed  Central System (Tier 2) >9.30 >16.00 $2,000 $2,000 $3,000
Combination Space and Water Heat Pump Requires pre-approval by contacting betterhomesbc@gov.bc.ca Up to $3,000 is available.

Check out the Combination Space and Water Heat Pump Incentive page for more information.

 

What are the heat pump requirements for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program?

Requirements for installing a heat pump vary depending on your electricity provider (BC Hydro or FortisBC), your primary heating fuel before the upgrade, the type of heat pump you want to install (mini-split or central system), and the efficiency ratings of the system.

For information on what rebates are available, see What rebate is available for upgrading to a heat pump?

General heat pump requirements:

  • Replacing or upgrading an existing or broken heat pump is not eligible for a rebate.
  • The heat pump must be installed by a licensed contractor with a valid BC business license for the trade applicable to the installation work.
  • Only air-source heat pumps are eligible for rebates. Geoexchange (ground-source) heat pumps are not eligible.
  • If the home is currently heated with electricity, the heat pump must replace a hard-wired electric heating system such as baseboards, radiant ceiling, radiant floors or forced air furnace. However, these systems do not need to be removed.
  • If the home is currently heated with oil, all oil heating equipment must be removed or decommissioned according to all relevant regulations and bylaws. If you are a resident of Northern BC (BCBC Climate Zone 6, 7A, 7B or 8) and currently heat your home with oil, please see the FAQ, Am I eligible for a heat pump rebate if it is combined with a gas, propane, or oil furnace as backup?
  • If the home is currently heated with natural gas, all gas heating equipment must be removed, decommissioned, or modified according to all relevant regulations and bylaws. For a Tier 2 central heat pump, an existing natural gas furnace air handler may be re-used if its model number is included on the AHRI certificate for the new system. For more information and additional requirements, please see the FAQ Am I eligible for a heat pump rebate if it is combined with a gas, propane, or oil furnace as backup?
  • See program terms and conditions for additional requirements.

 

Mini-Split Single Head Installation Requirements:

  • When converting from fossil fuel heating, the system must have a SEER rating of 16 or higher, a HSPF of 9.3 or higher, a variable speed compressor, and an AHRI certified reference number.
  • When converting from electric heating, the system must have a SEER rating of 18 or higher, a HSPF of 10 or higher, a variable speed compressor, and an AHRI certified reference number.
  • If the home was heated primarily by fossil fuels (oil, natural gas or propane) prior to the installation of the new heat pump, all such fossil fuel heating equipment must be removed or decommissioned in accordance with all applicable laws.
  • The indoor unit (head) must serve a main living area of the home.
  • Premises with a natural gas or propane fireplace are eligible if the fireplace is a secondary heating system.
  • Single head mini-split heat pumps cannot have a fossil fuel back-up system.

 

Mini-Split Multiple Head Installation Requirements:

  • The system must have a SEER rating of 16 or higher, a HSPF of 9.5 or higher, a variable speed compressor, and an AHRI certified reference number.
  • If the home was heated primarily by fossil fuels (oil, natural gas or propane) prior to the installation of the new heat pump, all such fossil fuel heating equipment must be removed or decommissioned in accordance with all applicable laws.
  • At least one indoor unit (head) must serve a main living area of the home.
  • Multi-head mini-split heat pumps cannot have a fossil fuel back-up system.

 

Central Heat Pump Requirements:

Tier 1 Central Heat Pump Requirements:

  • Only homes that are heated primarily by electricity provided by FortisBC or by fossil fuels are eligible for the Tier 1 Central Heat Pump rebate.
  • The system must have a SEER rating of 15, a HSPF of 8.5 or higher, and an AHRI certified reference number.
  • A variable speed compressor is not required.

 

Tier 2 Central Heat Pump Requirements:

  • The system must have a SEER rating of 16 or higher, a HSPF of 9.5 or higher, a variable speed compressor, and an AHRI certified reference number.

 

Central Heat Pump Requirements – Tier 1 & Tier 2:

  • The system must have a maximum static pressure of 0.6” WC or higher. This information is available in the technical specifications of a heat pump system.
  • If the Premises was heated primarily by oil before the heat pump upgrade, the heat pump must replace the oil heating system and all such oil heating equipment (tank, furnace or boiler, and associated infrastructure) must be removed or decommissioned in accordance with all applicable laws.
  • If the Premises was heated primarily by gas or propane before the heat pump upgrade and the heat pump is replacing the gas or propane heating system, all gas heating equipment (piping, appliances, fuel containers, vents and associated infrastructure) must be removed, decommissioned or modified in accordance with all applicable laws.
  • If the Premises was heated primarily by gas or propane before the heat pump upgrade and the heat pump is being integrated into a combination gas furnace/electric heat pump, all such gas heating equipment (piping, appliance, fuel containers, vents and associated infrastructure) must be modified in accordance with all applicable laws. Combination gas furnace/electric heat pump systems are only eligible, provided:
    • If the gas furnace/electric heat pump system has been installed after November 01, 2018, a heating and cooling load calculation is completed to properly size the system. See What are the load calculation requirements for heat pumps? For more information.
    • The thermostat, outdoor temperature switch-over control or equipment control board is set to the following region-specific temperatures for the duration of the product lifetime:
      • Switch-over temperature for the Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island regions: 0°C.
      • Switch-over temperature for the Southern Interior and Northern BC: -5°C;
    • The heat pump must be sized to ensure that it has the capacity to meet the Premises’ heat demand at or below the region-specific outdoor set-point.
    • The system, whether purchased as a whole new system or created by retrofitting an existing gas furnace, must have an AHRI certified reference number that shows the outdoor unit, indoor unit and furnace are a tested combination. An existing furnace air handler may be re-used if its model number is included on the AHRI certificate for the new system.

What are the load calculation requirements for heat pumps?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program requires that load calculations are performed to qualify for a rebate in dual-fuel heating systems. While CleanBC strongly recommends load calculations be completed for all heat pump installations, at this time, the requirement only applies to air-source heat pump installations that are combined with a natural gas or propane furnace as backup. Please see below for the load calculation requirements for dual-fuel systems.

 

 Load Calculation Requirements

A load calculation is required for all air-source heat pumps in a dual-fuel furnace/heat pump system that are installed on or after November 1, 2018. This is being required to ensure the equipment is sized per program requirements (which helps to ensure program objectives of emission reduction occur) and encourage high-quality installations.

 

Rule-of-thumb equipment sizing will not be accepted.

Contractors can perform the load calculation by using any of the following options:

 

A copy of the load calculation is part of the required documentation. The load calculation can be documented by a submittal sheet from compliant software or by a load calculation worksheet from TECA, HRAI, ACCA or the CSA F280 standard.

If your contractor is not sure if their current heat load calculation methodology meets these criteria, please have them contact betterhomesbc@gov.bc.ca.

The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) and the Thermal Environment Comfort Association (TECA) both offer training courses on CAN/CSA F280-12 load calculations. HRAI offers a 4-day course in Victoria and Vancouver. TECA is currently updating its Forced Air Guidelines Course with CAN/CSA F280-12 material and will be offering it throughout BC. Both organisations also offer technical manuals on residential heat loss and heat gain load calculations. There are a large number of available software solutions and mobile apps that allow you to do Manual J calculations.

 

Insulation Eligibility

How are insulation rebates calculated?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program requires the following information to calculate your rebate:

  • The R-value of new insulation added
  • The square feet covered by new insulation

The R-value that you have added is multiplied by the square feet covered, and then by a specific dollar amount that differs for each area of your home, as indicated in the table below.

Location Installed Minimum R-Value Added Dollar amount for rebate calculation Maximum Rebate
Attic (flat and cathedral ceiling) R12 $0.02 $900
Exterior wall cavities R12 $0.09 $1200
Exterior wall sheathing R3.8 $0.09 $1200
Basement/crawlspace Walls R10 $0.09 $1200
Other (exposed floor, floor over crawlspace, basement header) R20 $0.07 $1000

Example: I had R20 of existing insulation in my attic and added R30 for a total of R50. I covered 900 square feet. My rebate is calculated as follows:

R30 × 900 sf x $0.02 = $540

My rebate for this work is $540.

Please note:

  • Rebates are calculated based on the R-value of new insulation added and not the total combined final R-value for new and pre-existing insulation.
  • The insulation added must have a minimum R-value added per location outlined in the table above.
  • A minimum rebate of $500 is required for each insulation location to be eligible for either for both the Two Upgrade Bonus and the Home Energy Improvement Bonus.
  • The insulation rebate amount cannot exceed the installed cost of the eligible upgrade indicated on the invoice.
  • You cannot access a rebate for both crawlspace wall and floor above crawlspace – you must choose one or the other.

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

Does foil insulation count towards the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program?

The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program terms and conditions state that batts, loose fill, board and spray foam are eligible insulation types. Only products with Canadian R-values provided by the manufacturer are accepted. “System values” or values of materials not tested to Canadian national thermal insulation standards cannot be used for determining the amount of insulation added.

However, your contractor may install insulation that is foil backed. The insulating value of this is obtained by adding the thermal resistance value (R-value) of the insulation to the R-value of the foil insulation. If the R-value of the insulation (excluding the foil) meet the minimum requirements of the rebate program, it will be eligible and you can count it towards the insulation rebate.

Foil insulation is essentially a plastic bubble wrap sheet with a reflective foil layer, belonging to a class of products known as radiant foils. In Canada, these types of insulation often have R-values of R0 to R3.5. If there is no air space or clear bubble layer the R-value is R-0. Keeping the performance attribute of foil insulation in mind when planning insulation upgrades is important to ensure your upgrade maximizes its performance effectiveness. For more information on the different types of insulation, visit the Natural Resources Canada resource, Keeping The Heat In.

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

Bonus Offer Clarification

How much will my rebate be for the Home Energy Improvement Bonus?

The Home Energy Improvement Bonus is a rebate provided to homes that complete EnerGuide Rating System evaluations and install three or more bonus-eligible home energy upgrades. The rebate is calculated as the percentage change between your pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide rating.* The bigger the percentage change in your EnerGuide rating, the larger the bonus rebate you will receive. Different combinations of bonus eligible upgrades will provide higher rebates than others. Work with a Program-Qualified Energy Advisor to determine the right Home Energy Improvement Plan for your home.

 

Remember: The Home Energy Improvement Bonus is a rebate you receive in addition to the individual rebates and the EnerGuide Home Evaluation Rebate. The chart below shows the potential range of the Home Energy Improvement Bonus amounts based on your heating system and  type of upgrades undertaken.

 

Home Heating System Upgrade Combinations Average Range of Home Energy Improvement Bonus,** plus EnerGuide Home Evaluation Rebate
Natural Gas and Oil Air Source Heat Pump  + 2 eligible upgrades $1100 to $1800
Natural Gas and Oil 3 eligible upgrades $450 to $1100
Electric Air Source Heat Pump + 2 eligible upgrades $900 to $1500
Electric 3 eligible upgrades $450 to $900

 

Important notes:

  • Be sure to follow the Home Energy Improvement Bonus Eligibility Requirements
  • If your community provides municipal top-ups, including EnerGuide Home Evaluation Top-ups and/or Convert to Electric Heat Pump Space Heating Top-ups there may be an additional $500 to $2150 in rebates available.
  • If your home is older, poorly insulated, drafty, or has less efficient space and water heating systems, it may be easier for you to achieve a greater percentage reduction in your EnerGuide score and receive a rebate in the upper range or even higher than the amounts shown above; if your home is newer, well insulated, well air sealed or has more efficient space and water heating systems, it may be harder for you to achieve a large percentage reduction in your EnerGuide score and you may receive a rebate in the lower range or lower than shown above.
  • Some types of changes to your home will increase the energy consumption of your home and reduce the Home Energy Improvement Bonus you may be eligible for: Switching from electricity to natural gas space or hot water heating systems, adding a new gas fireplace, adding new window or door openings, or expanding the size of your home.
  • Energy improvements that are not bonus eligible but improve the efficiency of your home will still be factored into the bonus rebate amount. For example, draftproofing, insulation upgrades under the eligibility threshold, solar hot water, and other upgrades will all improve the efficiency of your home and help boost your rebate amount

 

To get started: Schedule an EnerGuide home evaluation with a Program-Qualified Energy Advisor. The energy advisor will provide you with recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of your home and help you determine which upgrade options are bonus-eligible and what your bonus rebate is likely to be.

 

* The Home Energy Improvement Bonus amount is calculated as $20 multiplied by the percentage reduction in your home’s EnerGuide rating (in gigajoules per year, or GJ/year) between your pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation. Three eligible upgrades are required. To see an example of how the rebate is calculated, see How does the Home Energy Improvement Bonus Work?

**This Home Energy Improvement Bonus range is provided as an average range of rebates and includes the $300 EnerGuide Home Evaluation Rebate. The actual rebate you will receive will depend upon a wide range of factors.

How does the Home Energy Improvement Bonus work?

The Home Energy Improvement Bonus is a rebate of up to $2000 for improving your EnerGuide rating by installing three or more bonus-eligible upgrades. A pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation is required to determine the change in the EnerGuide rating of your home and the rebate amount. The Home Energy Improvement Bonus is paid out in addition to the rebates paid for eligible individual rebates.

Bonus-eligible upgrades include:

The Home Energy Improvement Bonus amount is calculated as $20 multiplied by the percentage reduction in your home’s EnerGuide rating (in gigajoules per year, or GJ/year) between your pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation.

For example: If your pre-retrofit EnerGuide rating was 250 GJ/year and your post-retrofit EnerGuide rating is 200 GJ/year you would do the following calculations:

  1. 250 GJ/year – 200 GJ/year = 50 GJ/year [This is the change in GJ/year of your EnerGuide rating.]
  2. 50 GJ/year ÷ 250 GJ/year = 0.20
  3. 20 x 100 = 20 [You have achieved a 20 percent reduction in your home’s EnerGuide rating.]
  4. $20.00 x 20 = $400.00 [This is the incentive you will receive, in addition to the individual rebates and the EnerGuide Home Evaluation Rebate.]

The Energy Efficiency Action Roadmap section of your EnerGuide Renovation Upgrade Report includes an estimate of GJ savings for recommended upgrades. See our FAQ How much will my incentive be for the Home Energy Improvement Bonus? to see the potential range of Home Energy Improvement Bonus rebate amounts based on the upgrades you do.

Keep in mind that not all upgrades recommended in your EnerGuide Renovation Upgrade Report are bonus-eligible. Always review the program terms and conditions before any renovations begin to ensure your upgrades will be eligible.

Even though some energy efficiency upgrades are not bonus-eligible, they may still improve your EnerGuide rating. For example, draftproofing (air sealing) is not a bonus-eligible upgrade but air sealing upgrades will improve (lower) your EnerGuide rating and allow you to access a higher bonus rebate.

If your renovation plans include upgrades that are not bonus eligible, ensure that at least three other upgrades are eligible so you can access the Home Energy Improvement Bonus. Other upgrades that are not bonus eligible but will contribute to lowering your EnerGuide rating and increasing your bonus rebate amount include:

  • Insulation upgrades that have received individual rebates under $500 in value or that are not eligible for the individual rebate (DIY installation)
  • Foundation insulation
  • Exposed floor, floor over crawlspace or basement header insulation
  • Solar hot water upgrades
  • Photovoltaic panels
  • Draftproofing/Air-sealing

To get started: Schedule an EnerGuide home evaluation with a Program-Qualified Energy Advisor. The energy advisor will provide you with recommendations to improve the energy efficiency of your home and can assist with determining which upgrade options are bonus-eligible.

Are there any rebates for draftproofing?

There are currently no individual rebates for draftproofing (air sealing). However, draftproofing can reduce energy use in your home and increase the rebate amount of the Home Energy Improvement Bonus.

The Home Energy Improvement Bonus requires that you complete a minimum of 3 eligible upgrades between a pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation. The rebate amount is calculated based on the percentage reduction in your EnerGuide rating, measured in gigajoules per year (GJ/year). $20 is provided for every percent reduction in your EnerGuide rating.

Draftproofing leads to a more airtight building envelope which means a more energy efficient home and a decrease in your post-retrofit EnerGuide rating. Remember – the lower your EnerGuide rating the more efficient your home!

How much draftproofing may contribute to your Home Energy Improvement Bonus amount is highly variable and depends on how drafty your home was prior to draftproofing and on the quality of installation of the upgrades that are undertaken in your home. It is important to note that well-installed windows, doors, insulation and other upgrades can contribute to making your home less drafty and will provide you with a higher Home Energy Improvement Bonus rebate amount.

To get started: Schedule an EnerGuide home evaluation with a program-qualified energy advisor. The energy advisor will provide you with a list of draftproofing opportunities and identify the potential for improving your home’s energy efficiency, reducing your EnerGuide rating and accessing the bonus rebate.

CleanBC Better Homes Program Application FAQs

How do I calculate my heat pump rebate with the City of Vancouver Top-Up?

The City of Vancouver is providing a Municipal Top-Up of up to $6,000 if you replace and remove your fossil fuel (oil, propane, or natural gas) primary heating system with an all-electric Tier 2 Central heat pump system, mini-split heat pump, multi-split heat pump, air-to water heat pump, or combination air-to water heat pump.

The heat pump rebate you are eligible for is calculated like below:

Heat Pump Rebates in City of Vancouver

Heat Pump Cost

Eligible Costs

(80% of Installation)

CleanBC Better Homes

Heat Pump Rebate

City of Vancouver

Top-Up

Total Heat Pump Rebate

$19,000

$15,200 $3,000 $6,000

$9,000

$18,000

$14,400 $3,000 $6,000 $9,000

$17,000

$13,600 $3,000 $6,000

$9,000

$16,000

$12,800 $3,000 $6,000

$9,000

$15,000

$12,000 $3,000 $6,000

$9,000

$14,000

$11,200 $3,000 $6,000

$9,000

$13,000

$10,400 $3,000 $6,000 $9,000
$12,000 $9,600 $3,000 $6,000

$9,000

$11,000

$8,800 $3,000 $5,800 $8,800

$10,000

$8,000 $3,000 $5,000 $8,000
$9,000 $7,200 $3,000 $4,200

$7,200

$8,000 $6,400 $3,000 $3,400

$6,400

$7,000 $5,600 $3,000 $2,600

$5,600

 

 

Can I submit a bulk application for multiple homes in a large renovation project?

Applications can be made in bulk but the process is slightly different than for a single application. Bulk applications are a good option for projects that are being completed on multiple homes, such as in townhouse or duplex complexes.

Upgrade Eligibility

Bulk Application Information

  • One invoice for the entire project is sufficient
    • Invoice must detail the home unit numbers where the upgrades were completed
    • Refer to the sample invoices for required information
  • Invoices must be paid in full
    • Note: if work is going to take longer than 6 months, multiple applications can be submitted with updated invoicing so that deadlines are met
  • There is no maximum number of units a bulk application can accommodate
  • In some cases, the Home Renovation Rebate Program Utility Account Holder Consent Form may be required

Submitting a Bulk Application

  • The CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program process bulk applications on a case-by-case basis
  • If the homes are heated by electricity, contact homerebates@bchydro.com to initiate the Bulk Application process
  • If the homes are heated by natural gas, contact homerebates@fortisbc.com to initiate the Bulk Application process

What are the documentation requirements for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program?

To access rebates from the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program you are required to provide supporting documentation (invoices from the contractor) with your rebate application. Please read the terms and conditions for a complete list of invoice and supplementary documentation requirements.

Invoices must meet these requirements:

  • All service invoices/receipts must indicate details of the work performed and the address where the work was performed.
  • The contractor’s company name, contact information (phone and/or email), address and GST number must be on the invoices.
  • All product purchase invoices/receipts must have the product’s brand, model number, and purchase date.
  • Gas installation requires a natural gas permit number and Technical Safety BC  gas contractor licence number.
  • Window invoices must include the Canadian ENERGY STAR® qualification of each window and door including the NRCan reference numbers for each window and doors and the U-factor rating (W/m2K) of each window and door.
  • All copies of invoices and documentation must be clear and legible.

For detailed documentation requirements by energy upgrade see below for sample invoices that show what the contractor/homeowner should include.

Some rebates require additional supporting documentation. Be sure to go over the terms and conditions for a complete list of invoice and supplementary documentation requirements.

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

How long will it take to receive my rebate from the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program?

Processing of applications may take up to 90 days from the date that all required application documents are received. When you submit an online application form you will be provided with a tracking number and confirmation that your application has been received. The status of CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program rebate applications can be tracked using the online application tracker.

Program partners are not responsible for lost, delayed, damaged, ineligible, or incomplete applications.

Rebate payments can be issued either in form of a cheque, credit on bill, or e-transfer to the Participant.

What are the application deadlines for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program?

In order to be eligible for any of the rebates offered by the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program the upgrades must be installed on or after September 28, 2018.

Individual Upgrades

The program application and all supporting documentation for each upgrade must be submitted within 6 months of the invoice date of the upgrade.

EnerGuide Home Evaluation Rebate

In order to receive the $300 EnerGuide Home Evaluation Rebate for a pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation, the pre-retrofit evaluation must take place on or after September 28, 2018. The post-retrofit evaluation must be completed within 18 months of the pre-retrofit evaluation and the application form must be submitted within 6 months of the post-retrofit evaluation.

Two Upgrade Bonus

To be eligible for the $300 Two Upgrade Bonus, the first upgrade must be installed on or after September 28, 2018 and the second bonus-eligible upgrades must be installed within 18 months of the installation of the first bonus-eligible upgrade. The Two Upgrade Bonus application must be submitted within 6 months of the invoice date of the second bonus-eligible upgrade.

Home Energy Improvement Bonus

To be eligible for the Home Energy Improvement Bonus, your pre-retrofit evaluation must take place on or after September 28, 2018. You must install three or more bonus-eligible upgrades, and complete a post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation within 18 months of your pre-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation. The Home Energy Improvement Bonus application must be submitted within 6 months of the post-retrofit evaluation.

Energy Advisor Supported Rebates – the Energy Advisor Supported Rebates form must be completed and submitted by the energy advisor who completes the post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation within 30 days of the homeowner submitting their program application. You will need to provide your energy advisor with your application reference number.

What do I do if I’m having issues with the online application form?

If you are having issues with your online rebate application form, all application assistance is provided by the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program directly.  Energy coaches provide technical assistance related to improving the efficiency of your home and do not have access to the file submission data, system performance, or other technical aspects of the online application.

For known issues and fixes, please find suggestions below. If these fixes do not work, contact technical assistance at the rebate program for more in-depth aid in solving the issue.

Known issues and suggested work-arounds:

  • PDF file will not upload – Upload a .jpeg file of the supporting document instead
  • No confirmation upon application submission – call Home Renovation Rebate and EfficiencyBC Program directly
  • Very long loading times once application is submitted – call Home Renovation Rebate and EfficiencyBC Program directly

To contact the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program for technical assistance, call 1.877.338.3347 Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm, or email homerebates@bchydro.com.

Buying or Selling Your Home

How do I find an energy efficient home to buy?

If you’re looking to buy a new home, there are a number of ways to find an energy efficient home. Look for homes that are certified as a Passive House, Built Green, or with Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) EnerGuide Rating System or ENERGY STAR® certificate and label (usually placed on the home’s electrical panel). An ENERGY STAR certified home meets the ENERGY STAR standard for enhanced energy efficiency. On average, an ENERGY STAR certified new home will be 20% more efficient than a home built to code.

According to NRCan, typical features of an ENERGY STAR home include:

  • Efficient heating and cooling systems that use less energy, reduce indoor humidity and improve the overall comfort of your home.
  • High-performance ENERGY STAR windows, patio doors, and skylights that keep the heat in during the winter and out during the summer.
  • Walls and ceilings insulated beyond what is required by the building code.
  • A variety of ENERGY STAR products that use less electricity by meeting strict technical specifications.
  • A heat or energy recovery ventilation system (HRV or ERV) that ensures your home has controlled ventilation.

Another way to gauge a home’s energy efficiency is by asking the seller if they’ve conducted an EnerGuide home evaluation. If so, ask to see the EnerGuide home label to get a better sense of the home’s annual energy consumption.  You can also ask the seller if the home has energy efficient or ENERGY STAR products.

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

How do I promote the energy efficiency of my home when selling it?

Energy efficiency improvements are not as flashy as kitchen or bathroom renovations or a new coat of paint, which usually top the list of best renovations for home value improvement at time of sale. That being said, third-party energy rating or certification systems do help homes sell for a premium.

If you have completed an EnerGuide home evaluation be sure to inform your REALTOR® so that potential buyers can see your home’s EnerGuide rating and label and learn about the energy efficient features of your home, such as:

  • Insulation levels
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Windows and doors
  • Water heating systems
  • Appliances
  • Lighting
  • Ventilation
  • Draftproofing

If you haven’t completed an EnerGuide home evaluation, consider having one done by a program-qualified energy advisor. The EnerGuide label can be an important selling point for prospective buyers as it lets them assess the home’s energy performance and see how it might affect their utility bills. Ensure that you have a post-retrofit energy evaluation to verify your upgraded EnerGuide rating and include this on the MLS listing.

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

Home Improvement

Where do I start to reduce drafts and improve my home?

The first step to reduce drafts is to identify the air leakage areas throughout your home. Although you might feel drafts and see air leakage areas around windows and doors on the main floor, in most homes, the most significant air leaks are often found in the attic/top floor and basement/lowest floor and are often hidden. This is due to the stack effect: In a heated home, less dense warm air rises and expands, creating a higher-pressure area near the top of the house. As cold air pushes into the lower portions of your home it forces the lighter warm air up and out through leaks at the top.

In general, the priorities for air sealing are:

  1. Large holes regardless of location (plumbing or electrical penetrations, ductwork through unconditioned spaces, large gaps under doors, masonry chimney chaseways)
  2. Smaller holes on top floor ceiling/attic (pot lights, ceiling penetrations around fixtures, attic hatch, attic knee walls, service shafts, etc.)
  3. Smaller holes on the bottom floor (hose bib penetrations, cracks on exterior and foundation walls, basement doors, electrical boxes, gas lines or oil fill pipes that go through exterior walls, etc)
  4. Smaller holes at main floors (windows, doors, top and bottom of baseboards, fireplace dampers, electrical outlets, switches)

Various materials throughout the envelope act as an air barrier. Large-surface building materials such as drywall, baseboards or structural members and windows and doorframes are incorporated into the air barrier by sealing them to the adjoining materials. Caulking, tapes and gaskets are used for joints between materials that do not move, and weatherstripping, for joints that do move.

When choosing draftproofing materials always select premium products for long-term durability. Choosing the proper product and paying attention to the quality of application are crucial.

Materials you may want to use for draftproofing include:

  • Caulking is used to seal joints between building components.
  • Weatherstripping is used to block air leakage around doors and the operable parts of windows.
  • Spray-foam insulation is a plastic resin used to insulate, but also acts as an air barrier.
  • Most solid building components including drywall, plaster, plywood, glass, wood, rigid foam insulation and poured concrete (not concrete blocks) will act as air barriers.
  • House wrap, polyethylene sheeting, and polyamide sheeting typically act as air, vapour, or combination barriers, respectively.

For detailed information on draftproofing materials, see the Natural Resources Canada resource Keeping the Heat In.

Check out the BC Hydro DIY draftproofing videos to find out how you can take simple steps to draftproof your home.

For a more in depth air sealing analysis of your home, you can have an EnerGuide home evaluation performed on your home to find any obvious or hidden drafts that need sealing. A program-qualified energy advisor will conduct a site visit, perform a blower door fan/depressurization test and look for air leaks. The advisor will also use the data from the depressurization test and calculate the air leakage rate for your home. In the Renovation Upgrade Report, the energy advisor will give a prioritized list of draftproofing measures for your home.

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

When should I upgrade my heating system?

In general, you should invest in a new heating or cooling system if your system is more than 15 years old or if it’s no longer keeping your home comfortable. Consider having a professional HVAC contractor look at your system if you’re unsure whether it needs to be upgraded or replaced. Prior to installing a new system, you should address your home’s air leaks, insulation deficiencies and improve the ducting system (if necessary).

The time to replace your heating system also depends on your type of heating system and other upgrade indicators that may appear throughout your home. For example:

  • Heat pumps or air conditioners that are more than 15 years old should be checked and if necessary, replaced with higher efficiency units.
  • Furnace or boilers that are more than 15 years old most often times need to be replaced with higher efficiency units. Gas furnaces or boilers should be serviced at least once every two years. Oil furnaces or boilers should be cleaned and serviced every spring. It’s recommended to have a quality service technician or heating contractor conduct these tune-ups.
  • Increased energy bills and frequent repairs of equipment – this may indicate that your heating equipment is not operating optimally.
  • Some rooms in your home are too hot or too cold – this may indicate that your equipment is not operating effectively, you have ducting problems, inadequate insulation, or problems with air leakage.
  • Your heating system is noisy –this may indicate that your home has an oversized heating system, old blower motor or a lack of maintenance.

For more information, visit the ENERGY STAR® website.

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

What are the symptoms of poor indoor air quality, and how can it be improved?

If your home has insufficient air distribution and ventilation, you may find that your home has poor indoor air quality. Insufficient air distribution and ventilation often results in mould, condensation on windows and mirrors, lingering smells after cooking, and chemical smells (from synthetic fabrics, furnishings, household products, cigarette smoke, burning candles, etc.). If your home has poor indoor air quality, you may also observe the following symptoms: sneezing, coughing, congestion and itchy eyes. If your home’s indoor air is too dry then you may find an increase in static shocks, and drier skin and throat.

To maintain good indoor air quality in your home, there must be a sufficient exchange of indoor air with fresh outdoor air. This air exchange will allow mould spores, toxins, odours, excess moisture and stale air to flow out of your home and prevent health problems that can arise from poor indoor air quality. Below are some helpful tips on how to improve the air quality of your home:

  • Install ventilation fans – to improve the air quality of your home, install appropriately-sized bathrooms fans and kitchen range hoods. These ventilation fans will help reduce the humidity in your home and prevent mould and condensation problems.
  • Use the 10-minute rule – to fully remove humidity, you should run ventilation fans at least 10 minutes after cooking and showering. Running the range hood after cooking will also help eliminate particulates and lingering smells in your home.
  • Maintain regularly – range hood filters and bathroom fans should be cleaned once a month to ensure that they ventilate your home effectively and improve indoor air quality. On average, range hoods will work effectively for 10-12 years before they need to be replaced. If you find that your bathroom fan no longer prevents your mirror from fogging, it should be replaced.
  • Consider installing a balanced ventilation system –  if you have very poor indoor air quality and want to ventilate your house more evenly, you may benefit from a balanced ventilation system. These systems exhaust stale air and replace it with a consistent supply of fresh air. Heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) and energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) also have heat exchangers to recover some of the heat from exhausted air.

Consider hiring a program-qualified energy advisor to perform an EnerGuide home evaluation and assess your home’s ventilation and air quality needs.

For more information about moisture and air quality problems, visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation or click here for a booklet.

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

What are the health and safety considerations of home renovations?

It is important to understand the health and safety considerations of home renovations before undertaking a new project.

Asbestos and vermiculite – building materials containing asbestos may have been used in many buildings and homes built before 1990. This includes materials such as insulation, flooring and ceiling tiles, house siding, and more.

Vermiculite is a type of insulation that may contain asbestos fibres and is commonly found in older homes with insulation installed prior to 1990. If you suspect that there is vermiculite in your home, it is highly recommended that you take precautionary measures due to serious potential health risks. If exposed, asbestos fibres can become airborne in the home’s interior and cause serious harm if inhaled. For more information about the risks associated with asbestos exposure, please visit Health Canada.

If you suspect insulation in your home contains vermiculite, do not disturb it. Contact a certified asbestos removal specialist that will follow BC hazardous waste regulations for options in relation to your renovations. For information about asbestos testing and professional removal, please visit Work Safe BC.

Combustion gases – oil, wood, or gas burning appliances produce heat by burning fuel. This process creates combustion gases, which should be vented to the outdoors through a chimney or vent pipe. If they are not properly vented to the outdoors, or if the home becomes depressurized, combustion spillage occurs. Combustion spillage is the unwanted flow of combustion gases into the home. This occurs when a home becomes depressurized, and harmful combustion gases are sucked back into the home through vents or a flue (backdrafting). Depressurization can happen when a home is very air tight and all exhaust fans, such as range hoods, bathroom fans, the dryer etc. are running at the same time, drawing air from the inside to the outside of the home.

There are a number of ways to prevent combustion spillage, including:

  • Maintaining your combustion appliances
  • Inspect, maintain, and upgrade your chimney if necessary
  • Upgrade your appliances to models that are less prone to combustion spillage
  • Avoid conditions that cause backdrafting. This includes avoiding running several powerful exhaust devices at once.

If you renovate your home to be more air-tight, ensure you have proper ventilation and, if necessary, consider installing a balanced ventilation system such as an HRV.

Mould – if you discover mould in your home, it is essential that the mould is thoroughly removed, the areas cleaned and disinfected, and contaminated materials are properly disposed of. To control and reduce the potential for mould growth, control sources of moisture, maintain indoor humidity at recommended levels, and remedy infiltration and leakage.

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

What is the difference between a smart and programmable thermostat?

Using either a smart or programmable thermostat in your home is a great way to control your heating system and energy bills, and keep your home consistently comfortable.

Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat is designed to adjust the temperature according to a series of programmed settings that take effect at different times of the day. For instance, you can set it to turn down to 16*C every evening at 10pm and turn back up to 21°C at 6:30 in the morning, and it will continue to adjust the room temperature for you automatically.

Smart thermostat

A smart thermostat is similar to a programmable thermostat in that you can set it to adjust temperatures at different times. The difference is that smart thermostats can learn from your behaviors or sense when you’re home, adjusting temperatures accordingly, and automatically allow you to control the climate of your home remotely. Some smart thermostats allow you to connect with Wi-Fi, giving you control from wherever you may be – the couch, the office, or even the other side of the globe.

Considerations

It should be noted that programmable thermostats are not recommended for heat pumps. When a heat pump is in cooling mode, turning up the thermostat will save energy and money. However, when a heat pump is in heating mode, setting back its thermostat can cause the unit to operate inefficiently. Maintaining a moderate setting is the most cost-effective practice when operating a heat pump.

Learn more about thermostats with FortisBC and BC Hydro.

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

Understanding Home Evaluations

What are EnerGuide home evaluations?

An EnerGuide home evaluation is a comprehensive service designed by the federal government to help you improve the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. As part of the service, an energy advisor will come to your home and assess its energy performance. Energy advisors are building science professionals who will provide you with unbiased energy saving information, rather than selling any particular products or recommending particular contractors.

Read more on Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide Home Evaluation info-graphic.

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

What happens during a pre- and post retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation?

During a pre-retrofit evaluation, your energy advisor will:

  • Ask you about your goals for your home and any efficiency or comfort issues you’d like help solving
  • Measure the size and heated volume of your home
  • Document the existing insulation levels throughout your home
  • Record the make and model of your space and water heating systems
  • Perform a blower door test to identify air leakage problems and calculate your air changes per hour and your home’s equivalent leakage area (how big a hole the air leaks in your home would make if all combined together)
  • Use HOT2000 to build an energy model of your home
  • Explain relevant rebate programs
  • Provide you with a Renovation Upgrade Report which gives you customized recommendations about which energy saving upgrades make the most sense for your home, and what energy savings you can expect from each upgrade.
  • Issue you an EnerGuide rating, which demonstrates the energy performance of your home, and the EnerGuide Label which is the proof of that energy rating.

During a post-retrofit evaluation, your energy advisor will:

  • Return to your home and check your home’s energy performance after completing your upgrades and renovations
  • Document the changes in your home since your pre-retrofit evaluation and calculate your new EnerGuide rating. The data will be used to create an updated label and Homeowner Information Sheet.

If you are planning to access rebates, ensure that you have all of the necessary documentation for your application at this stage. If you are selling your home, consider including your EnerGuide rating in the MLS listing for your home to show a third-party verified confirmation of your home’s energy efficiency.

For more details or to schedule an energy evaluation, contact a program-qualified energy advisor.

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

What is an EnerGuide home label?

After an EnerGuide home evaluation, you will receive an EnerGuide home label to affix to your electrical panel or another location. The EnerGuide label provides summarized information from your energy evaluation.

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 EnerGuide rating your home would have if it had been built to current building code. Your current home’s rating may be more or less efficient than a brand new home.
    • Breakdown of the rated annual energy consumption: A pie-chart breakdown of the major energy uses within the house and an initial overview of where you can lower home energy costs.
    • Greenhouse gas emissions: the estimated GHGs emitted annually as a result of using energy in your home.

For a more detailed explanation of the EnerGuide Label, please view the EnerGuide Label Example and the Guide to the EnerGuide Label for Homes.

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

What happens during a post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation?

The energy advisor will return to your home and check your home’s energy performance after completing your upgrades and renovations. The advisor will document the changes in your home since your pre-retrofit evaluation and calculate your new EnerGuide rating. The data will be used to create another label and Homeowner Information Sheet.

If you are planning on accessing rebates, ensure that you have all of the necessary documentation for your application at this stage. If you are selling your home, consider including your EnerGuide rating in the MLS listing for your home to show a third-party verified confirmation of your home’s energy efficiency.

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

Renewable/High Performance Options

I’m interested in solar energy. How do I find out if it’s a good option for me?

Solar energy is an affordable alternative energy source that can be used to help heat and power your home or business. The active solar technology becoming more common is Solar Photovoltaic (Solar PV). Solar PV systems use solar cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity.

Solar PV systems are comprised of solar panels, inverters, breakers and mounting equipment. The solar panel generates power by converting sunlight to direct current electricity. Inverters are then used to convert the direct current electricity into alternating current to be used in your home.

Considerations

  • The potential for solar energy varies across Canada and British Columbia.
  • Before installing a solar system on your home’s roof, consider your roof’s current condition and if rework is needed in the near future.
  • Assessing how much energy your home requires on a daily, monthly, yearly, and seasonal basis will give you an idea of whether solar energy is economically viable for your home.
  • Engage an experienced and reputable solar energy installer to learn more about the right system for your home.

Rebate Programs

The BC Hydro Net Metering Program is designed for those who generate electricity for their own use. When you generate more than you need, you sell it to BC Hydro. When you don’t generate enough to meet your needs, you buy it from them. Any excess electricity is carried over to the following month and applied to that month’s consumption. If any excess power is left over a year from your net metering anniversary date, you will receive a financial credit from BC Hydro.

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

What is a net zero energy home? How can I make my home a net zero home?

A net-zero energy (NZE) home produces as much energy as it consumes on a yearly basis and has at least one on-site renewable energy system. NZE homes are not necessarily energy autonomous or off-grid because they can be connected to the electricity grid and supply energy back to the grid when the home produces more energy than it needs. In the span of a year the energy supplied to the grid should balance the energy drawn from the grid to achieve net-zero annual energy consumption.

To make your home a NZE home, there are three steps to consider when designing and building your home:

  1. Reduce the home’s energy requirements.
  2. Include renewable energy systems to provide the amount of energy required to operate the home.
  3. Operate the home efficiently.

For more information on the steps toward a NZE home, visit CMHC’s Net-Zero Energy Housing webpage.

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

Can you retrofit a building to the Passive House Standard?

Passive House retrofit is becoming a viable and increasingly common option in Europe, especially for low-rise apartment buildings. Canadian houses are generally built without good passive design characteristics:

  • They often have inefficient shapes (i.e. high area to volume ratios).
  • They’re generally not oriented towards the sun or they experience significant winter shading.
  • They may have a lot of north-facing glass as well as serious thermal bridges, and their interior layouts may be difficult to change.
  • Often a significant part of the value of the house may be invested in exterior brick or stonework, making re-insulation from the exterior non-viable.

So, although it can be possible to dramatically cut the energy consumption of a house or building, perhaps close to Passive House levels, it may not be cost-effective to do so, depending on the state, shape, size and age of the house.

For the EnerPHit Standard criteria, visit Passive House Canada.

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

Energy Efficiency and Reduction

What is the best way to reduce GHG’s emitted by my home?

The best way to reduce the greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by your home is to switch from a greenhouse gas intensive heating fuel to a more climate friendly fuel type.

Fossil fuels are the most GHG intensive heating fuels, with oil having the highest emissions, followed by propane and natural gas. Other combustion fuels such as biofuels and wood-based fuels emit greenhouse gases as well. Electricity has the lowest GHG emissions, as over 90% of electricity in BC is from renewable hydroelectricity and electric space and hot-water heating systems are more efficient than fossil fuel.

While fuel-switching is the most effective way to reduce to reduce your GHG emissions, upgrading an old heating or hot water system to a more energy-efficient system of the same fuel type will also achieve GHG savings.

In all homes, when upgrading a space heating system it is wise to consider building envelope upgrades, such as draftproofing, insulation, and upgrading windows as well. A well-insulated, draft free  building envelope may allow you to install a smaller and more efficient heating system, will further improve the overall energy efficiency of your home, reduce GHG emissions and maximize the affordability of your heating bills.

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

How can I tell if my home uses too much energy?

Learn more about what makes a home energy-efficient with Natural Resources Canada.

According to Natural Resources Canada’s 2011 Survey of Household Energy Use (SHEU-2011), a single detached home in British Columbia consumes 118.8 gigajoules (GJ) of energy per year on average. However, this number can vary depending on a number of factors, such as: type of dwelling, year built, heated area and the number of occupants. Refer to the SHEU-2011 Energy Intensity Per Household Data Table for more details. If your energy consumption exceeds the SHEU-2011 benchmarks then your home may be consuming too much energy.

Another way to learn more about your energy consumption is by having an energy advisor come to your home and complete an EnerGuide Home Energy Evaluation. A program-qualified energy advisor will conduct various tests to measure the energy efficiency of your home. After the evaluation, the energy advisor will outline the energy inefficiencies of your home. They will also send you an EnerGuide rating label, a detailed report of your energy evaluation and recommendations for upgrades that will help improve your home’s energy efficiency. The Renovation Upgrade Report will give your current energy rating, and the rating you can achieve by completing the recommended energy efficiency upgrades.

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

What is a Home Energy Monitor?

A Home Energy Monitor is a device that continuously monitors your electricity usage and displays this information, in both dollar cost and kilowatts, in real time. The Home Energy Monitor will also display your daily, monthly, and accumulated totals, as well as your meter reading.

Through your BC Hydro MyHydro account, you may already be tracking your electricity use online – a home energy monitor simply allows you to track this information in real time. This helps to understand how and when you’re using electricity, as well as the associated costs, allowing you to take actions to reduce your usage and save money and energy.

To be eligible for a home energy monitor through BC Hydro you must meet these requirements:

  • Create an online MyHydro account with a linked profile. If you do not have one you can sign up;
  • Live in a residential detached or semi-detached home; this includes most townhomes, rowhomes and mobile homes; and
  • Have a connected smart meter with a strong network connection.

Learn more about home energy monitors with BC Hydro. You can purchase a home energy monitor through your BC Hydro MyHydro account.

If you are a FortisBC Electric customer, your advanced electricity meter will display information that will cycle through the advanced meter display every 6 seconds. You can access tools through FortisBC, like in-home displays, to help you better manage your electricity use. For more information on advanced meters, as well as in-home displays, visit your FortisBC Account Online, or contact FortisBC at 1-866-436-7847.

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

Benefits of Home Evaluations

What are the benefits of an EnerGuide home evaluation?

An EnerGuide home evaluation is the first step in a smart home energy renovation. An evaluation will help you make informed decisions about which upgrades would work best for your home, how to prioritize them and which will save you the most on energy costs.

Solutions for your home

  • Lower your energy use and your energy bills
  • Improve indoor air quality and comfort
  • Lower your greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Explore solutions for drafts, mold, stuffiness, and outside noise

Prioritized upgrade options

  • Speak with a professional energy advisor about the best options for your home to meet your specific goals to improve your home. Tell your energy advisor your goals and let them help you identify upgrade options for accessing rebates, reducing energy bills, improving home comfort, reducing your carbon footprint, improving home resale value, insulating your home from outside noise, or addressing other home issues related to energy efficiency.

Receive money for your upgrades

If you plan to apply for rebates, carefully read the terms and conditions for each rebate. Some rebates require a pre-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation before installing upgrades and a post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation after your upgrades have been completed.

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

Should I get an EnerGuide label if I’m thinking of selling my home?

If you’re thinking of selling your home, it might be the perfect time to get an EnerGuide evaluation. Home sellers pro-actively obtain EnerGuide ratings for their homes and display the rating online. If you reside in Metro Vancouver, you can post your label on Metro Vancouver’s RateOurHome.ca website and link it directly to your property listing.

If you have an energy efficient home, here’s why you might want to tell potential homebuyers about your EnerGuide label:

Set your product apart from the rest

Displaying an EnerGuide label will set your home apart from the rest. Homes that rate higher than typical should be proudly displayed. This tells the buyer that a new home was built beyond building code requirements in terms of energy efficiency. And for older homes the EnerGuide label can prove the home energy improvement investments made in the home.

Transparency

Consumers may request that an evaluation be conducted as a condition of sale. Taking the initiative to get an EnerGuide label and displaying it on your listing demonstrates transparency. Buyers appreciate listings that provide full disclosure of any potential issues or concerns. Displaying your EnerGuide label answers questions before they are asked and can speed up the transaction process.

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

Benefits of the EnerGuide Rating Service for REALTORS®

As interest in energy efficiency upgrades increases, there is an increased demand for REALTORS® to have an understanding of the value of the EnerGuide rating system. This is an opportunity for real estate agents to build their brand and differentiate themselves amongst REALTORS. Understanding the energy efficient features of a home elevates conversations with prospective buyers beyond the home’s aesthetic.

The energy performance improvements made to a home and an EnerGuide label to prove it can be an important selling point to prospective buyers. It may show the home’s performance has been improved which in turn reduces the utility costs for any future occupants. An EnerGuide label is an official record of the home’s energy performance, and has potential to increase building value, resulting in a potentially faster sale at a potentially higher price.

Prior to listing, learn about any upgrades made to the home:

  • Has your client had an EnerGuide Home Evaluation done? Did they take steps in improving the energy efficiency of their home? Add their EnerGuide rating to the listing!
  • Give buyers what they want. An improved EnerGuide rating can help your clients improve their comfort, save money on energy bills, and reduce their environmental impact.
  • Find out what these improvements mean. Many energy efficiency upgrades can translate into benefits for the next homeowner.

The benefits of an EnerGuide label go beyond utility costs and energy savings. High-performing homes offer quality of life benefits that buyers can emotionally connect to. For example, energy efficiency upgrades can improve the overall comfort of the home, including noise reduction, temperature regulation, and indoor air quality. These improvements can be important selling or purchasing features for a home.

See our FAQ ‘What is an EnerGuide home label?

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

Cost Effectiveness

Why are my energy bills so high?

Your home energy consumption and the amount you pay on energy bills is based on many factors: size of home, energy efficiency of the home, type of heating system you use, the fuel type (electricity, gas, oil, propane) you use for space and hot water heating, the number of people living in your home and how house occupants use energy for space and water heating, appliances, lighting, cooking, bathing, etc.

There are many reasons why your energy bills may be higher than expected, or higher than you would like:

  • Insufficient insulation in your walls or attic
  • Air leakage issues
  • Inappropriately sized heating system
  • Inefficient space heating system
  • Inefficient hot water system
  • Heat loss through inefficient windows
  • High consumption of hot water for laundry and bathing
  • Other energy uses: hot tubs, space heaters, water pumps, energy used in workshops or outbuildings, etc.

Winter Energy Bills

During the winter months we experience colder and darker days which can increase your home’s energy consumption. Your bills tend to be higher during colder months because:

  • It takes more energy to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home
  • Space heaters may be used to supplement the home’s primary heating system
  • Lights are left on longer from spending more time in your home and the need to use lighting for longer during the day

Changes in Billing and/or Utility Rates

If you notice that your utility bill is higher, even though your energy consumption was similar to your previous bill, then you should look for other changes in your utility bill, such as:

  • An increase in your utility rate (how much you are charged for a given unit of energy consumption compared to your past energy bills).
  • Longer billing period length. You may have been charged for more days in your most recent billing period compared to previous bills.
  • Delayed meter reading. If your utility provider does not read your meter for a given billing period, they will make an estimate of your home’s energy consumption based on your history. The estimate may be higher than expected, but your bill should be adjusted the next time your meter is read.

Changes in Home Dynamics that May Impact Your Energy Bill

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Have you had visitors recently or tenants that have moved in?
  • Have you added any new appliances?
  • Are you completing any upgrades or renovations for your home?

Answering yes to any of the above questions could explain why your energy bills have increased.

For more information please visit the BC Hydro and FortisBC.

Solutions to high energy bills include:

  • Draftproof your home – reducing drafts and air leakage into your home you will save energy, improve home comfort and save on you energy bills.
  • Monitor your home energy consumption – installing a home energy meter or signing up for BC Hydro’s MyHydro service to monitor your usage and pinpoint peak energy consumption periods. You may identify a spike in your energy consumption that helps you understand you high energy consumption. For example, does your energy consumption spike on Sunday, the same day you do all your laundry?
  • Complete an EnerGuide Home Evaluation – an energy evaluation helps you identify options to reduce energy bills.
  • Hire a contractor to complete energy efficiency upgrades for your home – depending on your homes energy upgrade needs – insulation, heating and water systems, and window upgrades can all contribute to reducing energy consumption, which leads to smaller energy bills
  • Complete simple DIY upgrades – are you handy around the house and have some time for home improvements – Small changes add up and many changes can be done as Do-It-Yourself projects, see our FAQs for more information
  • Alter occupant behaviour – there are many steps you can take to reduce your energy consumption. Reduce the number of laundry loads or use cold water, consider hanging laundry on a clothes line, unplug electronics when not in use, turn off lights when you leave a room, take shorter showers, reduce the use of space heaters in occupied rooms, etc.

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

I have a heat pump but my hydro bills are still very high

If you heat your home with a heat pump, but are experiencing higher than expected energy bills check out the solutions below.

First read the FAQ, Why are my energy bills so high? as your hydro bill may be high for reasons unrelated to your heat pump

If you feel that you aren’t benefiting from the high efficiency of your heat pump systems, the following operating tips and information should be considered:

  • Building envelope – regardless of what system is used to heat and cool your home, the importance of an airtight and well insulated building envelope cannot be understated. Air leakage caused by cracks and gaps in the building envelope, along with inadequate insulation will force your heating system to work harder in the winter, and your cooling system to work harder in the summer. Heating and cooling systems consume more energy and cost more to operate when they have to work harder to maintain the desired temperature. Draftproofing and upgrading insulation in areas like your attic or basement/ crawlspace is a great place to start and can improve the building envelope and reduce energy loss, resulting in energy and cost savings. Speak with an insulation and air sealing contractor or an EnerGuide Rating System energy advisor to help you understand why your energy bills may be so high.
  • Thermostat location – the location of your thermostat is important. A thermostat that is located in the direct path of a heating register senses that the living area is warm before the area has actually reached the desired temperature. This can cause the unit to short-cycle, which turns the heat pump off before the living space has been conditioned. Conversely, thermostats placed next to drafty windows or doors may not sense when the living space has reached the desired temperature. This can lead to over-heating and increased energy consumption. If you suspect the location of your thermostat is an issue – speak with a professional heat pump contractor about the options, and costs, for moving the thermostat to a more appropriate location
  • Setting your thermostat – the air source heat pump indoor thermostat should be set at the desired comfort temperature and not readjusted. Repeatedly adjusting the indoor thermostat, or turning the unit on and off may cause the heat pump system’s supplementary heating system to kick in – causing your heating system to use more energy and increase your energy bills. We recommend checking your heat pump user’s manual for the recommended set point of your heat pump. In the cold winter months it is best to set your heat pump thermostat at your desired temperature and leave it at that temperature, this will reduce the number of times your heat pumps supplementary system will kick in (saving you money). If you wish to set back your thermostat do not set it back more than 2 degrees (for example if your preferred temperature is 21 degrees, do not set back your thermostat to lower than 19 degrees).
  • Emergency heat is only for emergencies – most thermostats have an emergency setting that when selected, forces your supplementary (back-up) heating system to kick in and take over 100% of the heating for the home. This can be expensive as the back-up heating system is less efficient than the heat pump. The emergency setting should only be selected when the heat pump is malfunctioning.
  • Do not use AUTO mode – AUTO mode allows the heat pump to switch from cooling to heat automatically. This can cause the system to switch modes when it is not necessary. It is recommended to keep the heat pump in “Heat” mode in the winter and “Cool” mode in the summer.
  • Review the owner’s manual – not all heat pumps are the same. Each brand and model of heat pump will have its own recommended set point and other operating suggestions to maximize the efficiency of that specific model of heat pump. Review your owner’s manual and discuss with your contractor the best way to operate your heat pump.

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

Which upgrades typically have the fastest payback period?

When thinking about the payback period for your upgrades, the simple payback is one of the easiest way to look at your investment.

Simple payback is the length of time it takes to recoup the initial investment of the energy upgrade. The basic formula for calculating payback period is:

Payback period (in years) = cost of upgrade / energy savings per year

There are a few factors that should be considered when thinking about simple payback:

  • The life span of the product will determine for how long you will benefit form energy savings before having to replace it.
  • Changes to utility rates will affect the amount of money you save on energy costs.

Upgrades that typically have the fastest payback period are lower cost home energy improvements such as high efficiency aerators and shower heads, draftproofing, lighting, and adding insulation to previously uninsulated exterior walls. However, often it can be a wise financial investment to undertake higher cost home energy improvements that have a longer simple payback – but will save you more each year and over the lifetime of the improvement. While not as straight forward as simple payback – higher cost home energy improvements may have a strong return on investment.

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

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

I live in an apartment/condo and would like to do some energy efficiency upgrades. Are there any rebates available to me?

As a resident in an apartment or condo, there are a few different rebate offers you can consider. If you live in an income-qualifying household you can apply for a Free Energy Saving Kit from BC Hydro, FortisBC, or Pacific Northern Gas.

If you purchase and install eligible ENERGY STAR® appliances, you may be eligible for appliance rebates through BC Hydro and FortisBC:

  • BC Hydro Appliance Rebate Program: receive a rebate between $25-$100 for replacing your current clothes washer, refrigerator, and clothes dryer with qualifying ENERGY STAR models. Check the BC Hydro Appliance rebate program before you make any purchases to determine the status of the program, as well as the eligibility of the model.
  • FortisBC Appliance Rebates: receive a rebate between $50-$250 for replacing your clothes washer, clothes dryer, or refrigerator with qualifying ENERGY STAR models. Check the FortisBC website before you make any purchases to determine the status of the program, as well as the eligibility of the model.

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

Are there rebates for LED lights?

Instant in-store rebates for LED lighting are offered seasonally to BC Hydro and FortisBC customers. Use our rebate search tool and selecting ‘Lighting’ to see if these rebates are currently available.

Income-qualified households may be able to access LED lights and bulbs through the following free programs offered by FortisBC and BC Hydro:

The Energy Conservation Assistance Program is available to income-qualified households and provides an in-home visit with free energy-saving product installation, including energy-saving light-bulbs.

The Free Energy Saving Kits Program is available to income-qualified BC Hydro customers, PNG customers, FortisBC electric customers, and municipal electric customers. Participants in this program can receive LED bulbs, an LED night light, and other energy-efficient products.

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

Home Comfort

Why is my home so cold in the winter?

Some areas of your home may be difficult to keep warm due to:

  • Insufficient insulation – insufficient insulation can cause heat to escape from your home through your roof, walls, basement, foundation or crawlspace. For example, insufficient insulation in your crawlspace or basement can account for 20-30% of a home’s total heat loss.
  • Air leakage issues – most homes lose warm air to the outside and let cold air in through gaps and cracks in walls and under and around doors and windows. The amount of air leakage in a home can vary dramatically and may make your home feel drafty and cold.
  • Inappropriately sized or inefficient heating system – if interior temperatures are not maintained, your heating system may be too small or inefficient to support your home’s heating demands and keep you comfortable.
  • Inefficient space heating systems – baseboard heaters can account for 50% of your home’s overall electricity use.
  • Inadequate heating system ducts – if your home heating ducts are improperly sized, have leaky joints or have been poorly installed – heat may not be distributed effectively through your home. This may be the reason why some rooms in your home are difficult to keep warm. 
  • Inefficient windows – you may feel cold drafts near your older, single-pane windows. Inefficient windows will result in higher levels of heat loss and contribute to you feeling cold both near your windows, and throughout your home.

Energy efficiency solutions that can help keep your home warm during the winter months include:

  • Insulation – contact a registered energy advisor and/or a professional insulation contractor for recommendations on how to best improve the insulation in your home.
  • Draftproofing – see our FAQ, Where do I start to reduce drafts and improve my home?
  • Inappropriately sized heating system – contact a professional HVAC contractor to discuss options to upgrade your heating system. If your home is under insulated with high levels of air leakage – these are home energy improvements that should be considered prior to installing a new heating system.
  • Inadequate heating system ducts – if your heating system ducts are not functioning effectively, speak with a professional HVAC contractor about the options to fix the ducting or switch to a ductless type heating system
  • Replace old windows with efficient models – consider new energy efficient windows to block cold air from entering your home, and heat from escaping. See our FAQ Why is it important to select the right windows for my home?

Ask your energy advisor or contractor about which home energy improvements will be most effective for improving the energy efficiency of your home.

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

Why is my home so hot in the summer?

There are many factors that can cause a home to get too hot in the summer, and many of them are energy efficiency issues:

  • Insufficient attic insulation – in the summer, and on other hot days, radiant heat from the sun can permeate through your roof and heat up your attic like a solar heated oven. If you have insufficient insulation in your attic – the radiant heat will pass through the insulation into your living space causing the air inside your home to become warmer, and sometimes too hot.
  • Inadequate attic ventilation – if there is insufficient attic ventilation, the temperature in the attic can build up due to heat that radiates into the attic. If the attic is under-insulated and/or if there is air leakage between your attic and living space the warm air from the attic will increase the temperature in your home.
  • Insufficient wall insulation – if your south and west facing walls have high exposure to direct sun and are uninsulated or under insulated – the heat from the sun will pass through the walls and heat up your home.
  • Air leakage – if there are gaps and cracks in your home (under doors, around windows, through attic penetrations, around your foundation, etc.) warm air will leak into your home increasing the temperature, and potentially the humidity levels, in your home.
  • Inefficient windows – if you have many windows or large windows that have direct exposure to the sun (your home is facing south/west) and the windows are not energy efficient, heat can easily enter your home on hot days, causing high indoor temperatures.
  • Insufficient ventilation within your home – especially in the summer, homes lacking proper ventilation (bathroom fan/range hood fan) can fill with stale air, and may feel stuffy and humid.

Energy efficiency solutions and behaviour changes that can help keep your home cool during the summer include:

  • Attic insulation – ensure your attic is sufficiently insulated. The BC Home Energy Coach program recommends that homeowners strive to increase their attic insulation to R40 or R50 levels (if appropriate and recommended by a professional attic insulation contractor). Draftproofing should also be completed in your attic prior to adding insulation.
  • Attic ventilation – if there is insufficient ventilation in your attic, have new air vents installed to meet current building codes ventilation requirements. When replacing roof shingles this is a good time to increase roof ventilation.
  • Wall insulation – sufficient insulation in the walls will slow the movement of heat from the exterior of the home into the interior. Homeowners should work with a professional insulation contractor and have all walls fully insulated. If replacing the siding for your home this is a good opportunity to have insulation blown into the walls and/or added to the exterior of your home.
  • Air leakage – draftproofing can be a cost effective strategy to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. See the FAQ, Where do I start to reduce drafts and improve my home?
  • Windows – installing new, high-performance windows can act as a barrier between indoor and outdoor temperatures, keep the cool air in, and save you up to 8% on your energy bills. Talk to your window installer to help choose the best windows for the comfort of your home.
  • Air conditioning – if air conditioning is required or desired, an air source heat pump is the most energy efficient and most climate friendly form of home heating and cooling currently available. See the FAQ, What are the benefits of mini-ductless air source heat pumps
  • Heat recovery ventilators (HRV) – can improve indoor air quality by removing stale air and circulating clean, fresh air throughout the home.
  • Using appliances less – minimizing the amount of heat you’re generating is a simple way to lower the temperature in your home. For example, on hot days plan for meals that do not require using the oven.
  • Keeping the heat out – keeping the windows and blinds closed during peak hot hours of the day can help to block heat that enters your home through your windows. In the early morning and in the evening when it cools down, open your windows to let cool air in.
  • Improving air flow – using a ceiling fan can lower indoor air temperatures by up to 10%. During the summer, set your ceiling fan to rotate counter-clockwise. When the air is cooler outside than it is inside (for example, in the early morning), you can also place a fan near a window to draw cool air into the home.
  • Landscape for shade – planting the right size tree in the right place can block sunlight and help keep your home cool during the summer months. A deciduous tree will block heat in the summer and allow the heat to pass through in the winter, when the leaves have fallen. Trees planted on the east, west, and northwest sides of the home will provide afternoon shade.
  • Install shading – exterior blinds or shades can block sunlight during the hottest times of the day, keeping the indoors cool.

Ask your energy advisor or contractor about which home energy improvements will be most effective for improving the energy efficiency of your home and maintaining a comfortable temperature all year round.

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

Which home energy improvements will make my home quieter?

Several home energy improvements will have the added benefit of making your home quieter by creating a sound barrier from outside noise.

  • Upgrade to efficient double or triple pane windows – modern and efficient double or triple pane windows can soundproof outside noise better than single pane windows and older double pane windows. Energy-efficient windows can also reduce your heating and cooling costs and eliminate cold drafts and condensation.
  • Maximizing wall and attic insulation – upgrading to better insulation or adding more insulation not only helps reduce your energy bills and increase the comfort of your home, but also acts a sound barrier to reduce outside noise. The way your insulation is installed plays a large role in its effectiveness. Ensure that you ask your insulation contractor to sufficiently fill cavities and leave no gaps for air leakage.
  • Draftproofing – sealing air leaks throughout your home can also make your home quieter. Ensure that doors and windows fit snugly by applying weatherstripping to all movable joints and around window and door frames.
  • Upgrade older, non-insulated doors – doors made with a hollow core construction do not block sound effectively. By upgrading to insulated, solid core doors, you create a more effective sound barrier and reduce the heat loss of your home.

Ask your energy advisor or contractor which home energy improvements will help soundproof your home and reduce outside noise.

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

I am a renter, is there anything I can do to make my home more energy efficient?

Whether you live in an apartment building or a suite in a home, as a renter there are many things you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your home. This in turn can improve the comfort of your home, and potentially help to lower your energy bills.

Simple Water Conservation Measures

Installing efficient showerheads and tap aerators will help you cut down on the amount of water you use, without sacrificing water pressure and provide you with the most cost effective option for reducing home energy bills. If you live in an income-qualifying household, you can receive a free Energy Saving Kit, or participate in the Energy Conservation Assistance Program. These programs provide free energy saving products, including water-efficient showerheads and kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators.

Energy Efficient Lighting

LED bulbs use less power and are available in a variety of shades, shapes and sizes, and last 10-25 times longer than traditional bulbs. As you purchase new lights, consider buying the high efficiency LED lighting to save money on your electricity bill. Be sure to keep your bulbs clean, as dust will reduce light output.

Draftproofing for Savings and Comfort

Draftproofing is a home energy upgrade that can be cost effective for lowering home energy bills and improving home comfort. See the FAQs, Where do I start to reduce drafts and improve my home? and What are the benefits of draftproofing?

Tips to Maximize Efficient Heating

Renters are not likely to replace space heating equipment, but there are ways to ensure that your heating system is operating to maximum efficiency – saving you money and enhancing comfort.

To not restrict the flow of heat in your home (and for safety reasons) do not place beds, drapery and furniture too close to baseboard heaters or radiators and do not cover floor or wall heating vents with furniture. Heat only the rooms you’re using. Lower the thermostat if you have baseboard heaters in rooms you’re not using. A minimum of once per year, vacuum your baseboards to ensure they are working effectively.

Tips to Keep You Cool

There are several cost effective options to help you keep your home cool when the temperature outside rises. In the early morning and once the sun goes down, open your windows and or doors to let cool air in. During the heat of the day, keep you windows, curtains and blinds closed to prevent the sun and warm exterior air from heating up your house. Use a fan to help circulate air. If you have a ceiling fan, set it to summer mode (counter-clockwise as you look up at it) to move the air downward to create a wind chill effect. Avoid using your oven

Rebate Programs

If you live in an income-qualifying household you can apply for the Energy Conservation Assistance Program or for a Free Energy Saving Kit.

The Energy Conservation Assistance Program provides a free in-home visit with free energy-saving product installation, as well as advice and tips for how you can improve your home’s efficiency. The free Energy Saving Kit Program provides free energy saving products you can install yourself.

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

Booking a Home Evaluation

What are the costs of an existing homes EnerGuide evaluation?

The cost of an energy evaluation may vary depending on your location, the energy advisor or service organization you choose, the size and complexity of your home, whether or not you have a secondary suite requiring a second blower door test, additional services requested (thermal imaging) and other factors. We recommend calling different service organizations to obtain a quote and ensure that they are able to work within your renovation time frame.

Existing home EnerGuide evaluations are conducted before and after retrofits are completed. Pre-retrofit evaluations typically range from $375 to $500 and may include additional fees. Post-retrofit evaluations typically cost between $200 and $300 and may include additional fees. Please note that GST and applicable fees may apply.

For an accurate quote, contact a program-qualified energy advisor that services your area.

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

Where can I find an energy advisor?

To find an energy advisor and schedule an energy evaluation, use our list of program-qualified energy advisors. Select your Town or City from the drop-down list and the contact information of nearby energy advisors will be displayed.

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

What types of homes are eligible for EnerGuide home evaluations?

These requirements are specifically for existing homes, for example: single family detached homes, mobile homes on a permanent foundation, permanently moored float homes, low-rise, semi-detached, and row houses.

In order for an EnerGuide evaluation to be conducted in your home, it must be in an eligible state.

According to Natural Resources Canada’s guidelines, an ‘eligible state’ means that:

  • The building is resting on a permanent foundation(s) or is a permanently moored float home.
  • There is a space heating system in place at the time of the evaluation that is capable (or was, in the case of a heating system failure) of keeping the interior living space at 21 degrees Celsius.
  • The envelope is intact, including the exposed ceilings, exterior walls, exposed floors, windows and doors, and interior and exterior finishes (e.g., drywall, and exterior siding).
  • Up to one window or door unit can be missing as long as it is temporarily air sealed (e.g., covered with plywood with seams and edges sealed with caulking). Any broken window panes must also be air sealed (e.g., with taped polyethylene) for the duration of the blower door test. If the temporary air sealing fails during the blower door test, the building will be considered ineligible.
  • Any renovations underway only affect interior partitions of the dwelling and do not perforate the building envelope.
  • There must be a supply of standard AC electrical power available. If power is not available from a utility, the homeowner must come to an agreement with the service organization about arranging for a suitable power supply to operate the blower door test equipment.

For more information on eligibility requirements for energy evaluations for new homes please visit Natural Resources Canada’s Homebuilders webpage; for energy evaluations for mixed-use or multi-unit residential buildings, contact a program-qualified energy advisor or service organization in your area.

For additional home eligibility requirements to access rebates see What types of homes are eligible for the Home Renovation Rebate Program?

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

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

Contact your energy advisor’s service organization. The contact information for the service organization can be found on the program-qualified energy advisor database.

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

What can I do if there are no Energy Advisors currently servicing my location?

Try to connect with an Energy Advisor nearest to your city/town and ask if they’re willing to visit your location to conduct an energy evaluation. In addition, there are a number of energy upgrades and rebates available that do not require an energy evaluation:

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

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 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

I live in an apartment/condo and would like to do some energy efficiency upgrades. Are there any rebates available to me?

As a resident in an apartment or condo, there are a few different rebate offers you can consider. If you live in an income-qualifying household you can apply for a Free Energy Saving Kit from BC Hydro, FortisBC, or Pacific Northern Gas.

If you purchase and install eligible ENERGY STAR® appliances, you may be eligible for appliance rebates through BC Hydro and FortisBC:

  • BC Hydro Appliance Rebate Program: receive a rebate between $25-$100 for replacing your current clothes washer, refrigerator, and clothes dryer with qualifying ENERGY STAR models. Check the BC Hydro Appliance rebate program before you make any purchases to determine the status of the program, as well as the eligibility of the model.
  • FortisBC Appliance Rebates: receive a rebate between $50-$250 for replacing your clothes washer, clothes dryer, or refrigerator with qualifying ENERGY STAR models. Check the FortisBC website before you make any purchases to determine the status of the program, as well as the eligibility of the model.

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

Are there rebates for LED lights?

Instant in-store rebates for LED lighting are offered seasonally to BC Hydro and FortisBC customers. Use our rebate search tool and selecting ‘Lighting’ to see if these rebates are currently available.

Income-qualified households may be able to access LED lights and bulbs through the following free programs offered by FortisBC and BC Hydro:

The Energy Conservation Assistance Program is available to income-qualified households and provides an in-home visit with free energy-saving product installation, including energy-saving light-bulbs.

The Free Energy Saving Kits Program is available to income-qualified BC Hydro customers, PNG customers, FortisBC electric customers, and municipal electric customers. Participants in this program can receive LED bulbs, an LED night light, and other energy-efficient products.

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

Moisture and Condensation

How do I reduce humidity levels in my home?

In order to decrease humidity levels in your home and prevent moisture problems, you will have to produce less humidity and increase the ventilation of your home. The following is a list of suggestions to reduce humidity levels in your home:

  • Be aware of sources of moisture in your home (plants, aquariums, steam showers, cleaning, washing, cooking, etc.) and compensate with sufficient ventilation.
  • Ensure that your home has appropriate exterior water barriers to protect your home from outdoor moisture.
  • Your kitchen and bathrooms should have ventilation fans to expel indoor moisture. Many older ventilation fans make noise but are ineffective at actually ventilating your home. A simple way to test that your fan is functioning sufficiently is to take a single square of toilet paper and place it along the fan vent while the fan is running. If the fan does not hold up the toilet paper, it is not functioning properly.
  • Consider installing a humidistat for your bathroom ventilation fan, or ensure that you run the fan for at least 15-20 minutes after each shower.
  • Fix all water leaks into the basement and do not allow any standing water in the house or against the foundation wall.
  • If necessary, repair or replace the drainage tile around your home or install a sump pump to remove excessive moisture from the soil under the slab. Speak with a knowledgeable contractor about the best option for your home.
  • Disconnect any humidifiers (if unnecessary).
  • If required, use a dehumidifier.
  • Do not store and dry wood in the house, and avoid hang-drying laundry in the house, as it releases moisture into your indoor air.
  • Ask your energy advisor or contractor about which home energy improvements will help reduce the humidity of your home.

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

How do I reduce the amount of condensation on my windows?

Condensation occurs when water vapour is cooled to the point where it condenses as water droplets on a cold surface. Greater accumulations of condensation will appear on colder window temperatures and homes with high humidity levels. To reduce the amount of condensation on your windows you can:

Reduce the humidity levels in your house

  • Ensure that your home has appropriate exterior water barriers to protect your home from outdoor moisture.
  • Your kitchen and bathrooms should have ventilation fans to expel indoor moisture.
  • Fix all water leaks into the basement and do not allow any standing water in the house or against the foundation wall.
  • If necessary, install a sump pump to remove excessive moisture from the soil under the slab.
  • Disconnect any humidifiers (if not necessary).
  • If required, use a dehumidifier.

Increase the surface temperature of your windows and frames

  • Invest in window frames made out of vinyl, wood or fiberglass.
  • Energy efficient windows made with a double or triple glaze and low-E (low-emissivity) will also increase the temperature of your windows and reduce condensation build-up.
  • Draftproof your windows with weatherstripping tape.

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

Why is it important to check and possibly upgrade ventilation systems after building envelope upgrades?

Building envelope upgrades such as draftproofing (air sealing), installing new windows and upgrading insulation improve the air tightness of your home and keep the heat in more efficiently. However, an increase in airtightness may also increase the humidity levels of your home. It is important to have an adequate ventilation system to ensure that you have sufficient ventilation through your home to prevent moisture problems (e.g. condensation and mould).

Ask your energy advisor or contractor what ventilation system upgrades you will need for your home.

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

EnerGuide Home Evaluations

Is my home eligible for rebates or an EnerGuide home evaluation?

To access rebates through the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program, or to have an EnerGuide home evaluation completed, your home must meet the eligibility criteria outlined below.

CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program

To be eligible for this rebate program, homes must meet the following eligibility criteria:

  • Be connected with a current residential utility service account to FortisBC and/or BC Hydro. Electrically heated homes served by local municipal utilities within the service territories of BC Hydro or FortisBC (electricity) are also eligible.
  • Be one of the following types of residential buildings:
    • single family detached dwelling;
    • mobile home on a permanent foundation;
    • or side-by-side duplex, side-by-side row home or townhouse (provided that each unit has its own natural gas and/or electricity meter). Utility accounts in the name of a strata corporation are not eligible.
  • Have 12 months of consecutive utility billing history for the period immediately prior to the installation of energy efficiency upgrade(s).

Please note: Multi-unit residential buildings (such as high-rises and apartment buildings), garages, workshops, and out buildings are not eligible for the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program.

EnerGuide Home Evaluation

To be eligible for an EnerGuide evaluation for existing homes, your home must be one of the following home types:

  • single family detached
  • semi-detached
  • row home or town home
  • mobile home on a permanent foundation
  • permanently moored float home

A home must also be in an ‘eligible state’, which means that:

  • The building is resting on a permanent foundation(s) or is a permanently moored float home.
  • There is a space heating system in place at the time of the evaluation that is capable (or was, in the case of a heating system failure) of keeping the interior living space at 21 degrees Celsius.
  • The envelope is intact, including the exposed ceilings, exterior walls, exposed floors, windows and doors, and interior and exterior finishes (e.g., drywall, and exterior siding).
  • Up to one window or door unit can be missing as long as it is temporarily air sealed (e.g., covered with plywood with seams and edges sealed with caulking). Any broken window panes must also be air sealed (e.g., with taped polyethylene) for the duration of the blower door test. If the temporary air sealing fails during the blower door test, the building will be considered ineligible.
  • Any renovations underway only affect interior partitions of the dwelling and do not perforate the building envelope.
  • There must be a supply of standard AC electrical power available. If power is not available from a utility, the homeowner must come to an agreement with the service organization about arranging for a suitable power supply to operate the blower door test equipment.

For more information on eligibility requirements for energy evaluations for new homes please visit Natural Resources Canada’s Homebuilders webpage. For energy evaluations for mixed-use or multi-unit residential buildings, contact a program-qualified energy advisor or service organization in your area.

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

What are EnerGuide home evaluations?

An EnerGuide home evaluation is a comprehensive service designed by the federal government to help you improve the comfort and energy efficiency of your home. As part of the service, an energy advisor will come to your home and assess its energy performance. Energy advisors are building science professionals who will provide you with unbiased energy saving information, rather than selling any particular products or recommending particular contractors.

Read more on Natural Resources Canada’s EnerGuide Home Evaluation info-graphic.

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

What happens during a pre- and post retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation?

During a pre-retrofit evaluation, your energy advisor will:

  • Ask you about your goals for your home and any efficiency or comfort issues you’d like help solving
  • Measure the size and heated volume of your home
  • Document the existing insulation levels throughout your home
  • Record the make and model of your space and water heating systems
  • Perform a blower door test to identify air leakage problems and calculate your air changes per hour and your home’s equivalent leakage area (how big a hole the air leaks in your home would make if all combined together)
  • Use HOT2000 to build an energy model of your home
  • Explain relevant rebate programs
  • Provide you with a Renovation Upgrade Report which gives you customized recommendations about which energy saving upgrades make the most sense for your home, and what energy savings you can expect from each upgrade.
  • Issue you an EnerGuide rating, which demonstrates the energy performance of your home, and the EnerGuide Label which is the proof of that energy rating.

During a post-retrofit evaluation, your energy advisor will:

  • Return to your home and check your home’s energy performance after completing your upgrades and renovations
  • Document the changes in your home since your pre-retrofit evaluation and calculate your new EnerGuide rating. The data will be used to create an updated label and Homeowner Information Sheet.

If you are planning to access rebates, ensure that you have all of the necessary documentation for your application at this stage. If you are selling your home, consider including your EnerGuide rating in the MLS listing for your home to show a third-party verified confirmation of your home’s energy efficiency.

For more details or to schedule an energy evaluation, contact a program-qualified energy advisor.

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

What is an EnerGuide home label?

After an EnerGuide home evaluation, you will receive an EnerGuide home label to affix to your electrical panel or another location. The EnerGuide label provides summarized information from your energy evaluation.

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 EnerGuide rating your home would have if it had been built to current building code. Your current home’s rating may be more or less efficient than a brand new home.
    • Breakdown of the rated annual energy consumption: A pie-chart breakdown of the major energy uses within the house and an initial overview of where you can lower home energy costs.
    • Greenhouse gas emissions: the estimated GHGs emitted annually as a result of using energy in your home.

For a more detailed explanation of the EnerGuide Label, please view the EnerGuide Label Example and the Guide to the EnerGuide Label for Homes.

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

What happens during a post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation?

The energy advisor will return to your home and check your home’s energy performance after completing your upgrades and renovations. The advisor will document the changes in your home since your pre-retrofit evaluation and calculate your new EnerGuide rating. The data will be used to create another label and Homeowner Information Sheet.

If you are planning on accessing rebates, ensure that you have all of the necessary documentation for your application at this stage. If you are selling your home, consider including your EnerGuide rating in the MLS listing for your home to show a third-party verified confirmation of your home’s energy efficiency.

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

What are the benefits of an EnerGuide home evaluation?

An EnerGuide home evaluation is the first step in a smart home energy renovation. An evaluation will help you make informed decisions about which upgrades would work best for your home, how to prioritize them and which will save you the most on energy costs.

Solutions for your home

  • Lower your energy use and your energy bills
  • Improve indoor air quality and comfort
  • Lower your greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions
  • Explore solutions for drafts, mold, stuffiness, and outside noise

Prioritized upgrade options

  • Speak with a professional energy advisor about the best options for your home to meet your specific goals to improve your home. Tell your energy advisor your goals and let them help you identify upgrade options for accessing rebates, reducing energy bills, improving home comfort, reducing your carbon footprint, improving home resale value, insulating your home from outside noise, or addressing other home issues related to energy efficiency.

Receive money for your upgrades

If you plan to apply for rebates, carefully read the terms and conditions for each rebate. Some rebates require a pre-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation before installing upgrades and a post-retrofit EnerGuide home evaluation after your upgrades have been completed.

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

Should I get an EnerGuide label if I’m thinking of selling my home?

If you’re thinking of selling your home, it might be the perfect time to get an EnerGuide evaluation. Home sellers pro-actively obtain EnerGuide ratings for their homes and display the rating online. If you reside in Metro Vancouver, you can post your label on Metro Vancouver’s RateOurHome.ca website and link it directly to your property listing.

If you have an energy efficient home, here’s why you might want to tell potential homebuyers about your EnerGuide label:

Set your product apart from the rest

Displaying an EnerGuide label will set your home apart from the rest. Homes that rate higher than typical should be proudly displayed. This tells the buyer that a new home was built beyond building code requirements in terms of energy efficiency. And for older homes the EnerGuide label can prove the home energy improvement investments made in the home.

Transparency

Consumers may request that an evaluation be conducted as a condition of sale. Taking the initiative to get an EnerGuide label and displaying it on your listing demonstrates transparency. Buyers appreciate listings that provide full disclosure of any potential issues or concerns. Displaying your EnerGuide label answers questions before they are asked and can speed up the transaction process.

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

Benefits of the EnerGuide Rating Service for REALTORS®

As interest in energy efficiency upgrades increases, there is an increased demand for REALTORS® to have an understanding of the value of the EnerGuide rating system. This is an opportunity for real estate agents to build their brand and differentiate themselves amongst REALTORS. Understanding the energy efficient features of a home elevates conversations with prospective buyers beyond the home’s aesthetic.

The energy performance improvements made to a home and an EnerGuide label to prove it can be an important selling point to prospective buyers. It may show the home’s performance has been improved which in turn reduces the utility costs for any future occupants. An EnerGuide label is an official record of the home’s energy performance, and has potential to increase building value, resulting in a potentially faster sale at a potentially higher price.

Prior to listing, learn about any upgrades made to the home:

  • Has your client had an EnerGuide Home Evaluation done? Did they take steps in improving the energy efficiency of their home? Add their EnerGuide rating to the listing!
  • Give buyers what they want. An improved EnerGuide rating can help your clients improve their comfort, save money on energy bills, and reduce their environmental impact.
  • Find out what these improvements mean. Many energy efficiency upgrades can translate into benefits for the next homeowner.

The benefits of an EnerGuide label go beyond utility costs and energy savings. High-performing homes offer quality of life benefits that buyers can emotionally connect to. For example, energy efficiency upgrades can improve the overall comfort of the home, including noise reduction, temperature regulation, and indoor air quality. These improvements can be important selling or purchasing features for a home.

See our FAQ ‘What is an EnerGuide home label?

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

What are the costs of an existing homes EnerGuide evaluation?

The cost of an energy evaluation may vary depending on your location, the energy advisor or service organization you choose, the size and complexity of your home, whether or not you have a secondary suite requiring a second blower door test, additional services requested (thermal imaging) and other factors. We recommend calling different service organizations to obtain a quote and ensure that they are able to work within your renovation time frame.

Existing home EnerGuide evaluations are conducted before and after retrofits are completed. Pre-retrofit evaluations typically range from $375 to $500 and may include additional fees. Post-retrofit evaluations typically cost between $200 and $300 and may include additional fees. Please note that GST and applicable fees may apply.

For an accurate quote, contact a program-qualified energy advisor that services your area.

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

Where can I find an energy advisor?

To find an energy advisor and schedule an energy evaluation, use our list of program-qualified energy advisors. Select your Town or City from the drop-down list and the contact information of nearby energy advisors will be displayed.

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

What types of homes are eligible for EnerGuide home evaluations?

These requirements are specifically for existing homes, for example: single family detached homes, mobile homes on a permanent foundation, permanently moored float homes, low-rise, semi-detached, and row houses.

In order for an EnerGuide evaluation to be conducted in your home, it must be in an eligible state.

According to Natural Resources Canada’s guidelines, an ‘eligible state’ means that:

  • The building is resting on a permanent foundation(s) or is a permanently moored float home.
  • There is a space heating system in place at the time of the evaluation that is capable (or was, in the case of a heating system failure) of keeping the interior living space at 21 degrees Celsius.
  • The envelope is intact, including the exposed ceilings, exterior walls, exposed floors, windows and doors, and interior and exterior finishes (e.g., drywall, and exterior siding).
  • Up to one window or door unit can be missing as long as it is temporarily air sealed (e.g., covered with plywood with seams and edges sealed with caulking). Any broken window panes must also be air sealed (e.g., with taped polyethylene) for the duration of the blower door test. If the temporary air sealing fails during the blower door test, the building will be considered ineligible.
  • Any renovations underway only affect interior partitions of the dwelling and do not perforate the building envelope.
  • There must be a supply of standard AC electrical power available. If power is not available from a utility, the homeowner must come to an agreement with the service organization about arranging for a suitable power supply to operate the blower door test equipment.

For more information on eligibility requirements for energy evaluations for new homes please visit Natural Resources Canada’s Homebuilders webpage; for energy evaluations for mixed-use or multi-unit residential buildings, contact a program-qualified energy advisor or service organization in your area.

For additional home eligibility requirements to access rebates see What types of homes are eligible for the Home Renovation Rebate Program?

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

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

Contact your energy advisor’s service organization. The contact information for the service organization can be found on the program-qualified energy advisor database.

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

What can I do if there are no Energy Advisors currently servicing my location?

Try to connect with an Energy Advisor nearest to your city/town and ask if they’re willing to visit your location to conduct an energy evaluation. In addition, there are a number of energy upgrades and rebates available that do not require an energy evaluation:

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

Heritage Home Improvements

Which upgrades are most appropriate for preserving the heritage and character elements of a home and achieving energy savings?

To preserve the architectural heritage of older homes and improve energy efficiency, retrofits should minimize changes to the building’s appearance and focus on repairs rather than replacement. Below are a list of energy saving upgrades appropriate for heritage homes:

  • Draftproofing – comprehensive draftproofing (air sealing) is an effective way to make older homes more energy efficient. (See Where do I start to reduce drafts and improve my home?)
  • Storm Windows – an important aspect of a heritage home’s character is its windows. If original wooden storm windows have been destroyed, you can install custom storm windows made to order. The benefits of installing wood storm windows include improved thermal efficiency, reducing moisture transfer, and compatibility with traditional wood-frame house construction. Avoid metal storm windows and storm-and-screen combinations if you want to preserve the appearance of your heritage home. Interior storm windows are less noticeable and easier to maintain than exterior storm windows.
  • Insulation Upgrades – heritage homes often have little or no insulation; by adding or upgrading insulation levels, you can significantly improve the thermal efficiency of your home. To preserve both the interior and exterior wall finishes, homeowners can have insulation blown into the cavity of a wood frame wall. Basements and attics can often be insulated without affecting the heritage appearance. When upgrading insulation in older homes, it’s also important to have a sufficient vapour and air barrier.
  • Heating System Upgrades – upgrading to a size-appropriate and energy-efficient heating system can help you achieve energy savings without altering the heritage appearance of your home.
  • Domestic Hot Water Upgrades – another cost-effective way to improve the energy efficiency of a heritage home is to upgrade your domestic heating and hot water system to energy efficient models. This retrofit will generally have a short payback period and will not damage the heritage and character elements of your home.

Do you live in the City of Vancouver? Check out the Heritage Energy Retrofit Grant. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation offers grants for energy efficiency upgrades and discounts for EnerGuide home evaluations.

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

Energy Issues and Concerns

Where do I start to reduce drafts and improve my home?

The first step to reduce drafts is to identify the air leakage areas throughout your home. Although you might feel drafts and see air leakage areas around windows and doors on the main floor, in most homes, the most significant air leaks are often found in the attic/top floor and basement/lowest floor and are often hidden. This is due to the stack effect: In a heated home, less dense warm air rises and expands, creating a higher-pressure area near the top of the house. As cold air pushes into the lower portions of your home it forces the lighter warm air up and out through leaks at the top.

In general, the priorities for air sealing are:

  1. Large holes regardless of location (plumbing or electrical penetrations, ductwork through unconditioned spaces, large gaps under doors, masonry chimney chaseways)
  2. Smaller holes on top floor ceiling/attic (pot lights, ceiling penetrations around fixtures, attic hatch, attic knee walls, service shafts, etc.)
  3. Smaller holes on the bottom floor (hose bib penetrations, cracks on exterior and foundation walls, basement doors, electrical boxes, gas lines or oil fill pipes that go through exterior walls, etc)
  4. Smaller holes at main floors (windows, doors, top and bottom of baseboards, fireplace dampers, electrical outlets, switches)

Various materials throughout the envelope act as an air barrier. Large-surface building materials such as drywall, baseboards or structural members and windows and doorframes are incorporated into the air barrier by sealing them to the adjoining materials. Caulking, tapes and gaskets are used for joints between materials that do not move, and weatherstripping, for joints that do move.

When choosing draftproofing materials always select premium products for long-term durability. Choosing the proper product and paying attention to the quality of application are crucial.

Materials you may want to use for draftproofing include:

  • Caulking is used to seal joints between building components.
  • Weatherstripping is used to block air leakage around doors and the operable parts of windows.
  • Spray-foam insulation is a plastic resin used to insulate, but also acts as an air barrier.
  • Most solid building components including drywall, plaster, plywood, glass, wood, rigid foam insulation and poured concrete (not concrete blocks) will act as air barriers.
  • House wrap, polyethylene sheeting, and polyamide sheeting typically act as air, vapour, or combination barriers, respectively.

For detailed information on draftproofing materials, see the Natural Resources Canada resource Keeping the Heat In.

Check out the BC Hydro DIY draftproofing videos to find out how you can take simple steps to draftproof your home.

For a more in depth air sealing analysis of your home, you can have an EnerGuide home evaluation performed on your home to find any obvious or hidden drafts that need sealing. A program-qualified energy advisor will conduct a site visit, perform a blower door fan/depressurization test and look for air leaks. The advisor will also use the data from the depressurization test and calculate the air leakage rate for your home. In the Renovation Upgrade Report, the energy advisor will give a prioritized list of draftproofing measures for your home.

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

When should I upgrade my heating system?

In general, you should invest in a new heating or cooling system if your system is more than 15 years old or if it’s no longer keeping your home comfortable. Consider having a professional HVAC contractor look at your system if you’re unsure whether it needs to be upgraded or replaced. Prior to installing a new system, you should address your home’s air leaks, insulation deficiencies and improve the ducting system (if necessary).

The time to replace your heating system also depends on your type of heating system and other upgrade indicators that may appear throughout your home. For example:

  • Heat pumps or air conditioners that are more than 15 years old should be checked and if necessary, replaced with higher efficiency units.
  • Furnace or boilers that are more than 15 years old most often times need to be replaced with higher efficiency units. Gas furnaces or boilers should be serviced at least once every two years. Oil furnaces or boilers should be cleaned and serviced every spring. It’s recommended to have a quality service technician or heating contractor conduct these tune-ups.
  • Increased energy bills and frequent repairs of equipment – this may indicate that your heating equipment is not operating optimally.
  • Some rooms in your home are too hot or too cold – this may indicate that your equipment is not operating effectively, you have ducting problems, inadequate insulation, or problems with air leakage.
  • Your heating system is noisy –this may indicate that your home has an oversized heating system, old blower motor or a lack of maintenance.

For more information, visit the ENERGY STAR® website.

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

What are the symptoms of poor indoor air quality, and how can it be improved?

If your home has insufficient air distribution and ventilation, you may find that your home has poor indoor air quality. Insufficient air distribution and ventilation often results in mould, condensation on windows and mirrors, lingering smells after cooking, and chemical smells (from synthetic fabrics, furnishings, household products, cigarette smoke, burning candles, etc.). If your home has poor indoor air quality, you may also observe the following symptoms: sneezing, coughing, congestion and itchy eyes. If your home’s indoor air is too dry then you may find an increase in static shocks, and drier skin and throat.

To maintain good indoor air quality in your home, there must be a sufficient exchange of indoor air with fresh outdoor air. This air exchange will allow mould spores, toxins, odours, excess moisture and stale air to flow out of your home and prevent health problems that can arise from poor indoor air quality. Below are some helpful tips on how to improve the air quality of your home:

  • Install ventilation fans – to improve the air quality of your home, install appropriately-sized bathrooms fans and kitchen range hoods. These ventilation fans will help reduce the humidity in your home and prevent mould and condensation problems.
  • Use the 10-minute rule – to fully remove humidity, you should run ventilation fans at least 10 minutes after cooking and showering. Running the range hood after cooking will also help eliminate particulates and lingering smells in your home.
  • Maintain regularly – range hood filters and bathroom fans should be cleaned once a month to ensure that they ventilate your home effectively and improve indoor air quality. On average, range hoods will work effectively for 10-12 years before they need to be replaced. If you find that your bathroom fan no longer prevents your mirror from fogging, it should be replaced.
  • Consider installing a balanced ventilation system –  if you have very poor indoor air quality and want to ventilate your house more evenly, you may benefit from a balanced ventilation system. These systems exhaust stale air and replace it with a consistent supply of fresh air. Heat recovery ventilators (HRVs) and energy recovery ventilators (ERVs) also have heat exchangers to recover some of the heat from exhausted air.

Consider hiring a program-qualified energy advisor to perform an EnerGuide home evaluation and assess your home’s ventilation and air quality needs.

For more information about moisture and air quality problems, visit the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation or click here for a booklet.

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

What are the health and safety considerations of home renovations?

It is important to understand the health and safety considerations of home renovations before undertaking a new project.

Asbestos and vermiculite – building materials containing asbestos may have been used in many buildings and homes built before 1990. This includes materials such as insulation, flooring and ceiling tiles, house siding, and more.

Vermiculite is a type of insulation that may contain asbestos fibres and is commonly found in older homes with insulation installed prior to 1990. If you suspect that there is vermiculite in your home, it is highly recommended that you take precautionary measures due to serious potential health risks. If exposed, asbestos fibres can become airborne in the home’s interior and cause serious harm if inhaled. For more information about the risks associated with asbestos exposure, please visit Health Canada.

If you suspect insulation in your home contains vermiculite, do not disturb it. Contact a certified asbestos removal specialist that will follow BC hazardous waste regulations for options in relation to your renovations. For information about asbestos testing and professional removal, please visit Work Safe BC.

Combustion gases – oil, wood, or gas burning appliances produce heat by burning fuel. This process creates combustion gases, which should be vented to the outdoors through a chimney or vent pipe. If they are not properly vented to the outdoors, or if the home becomes depressurized, combustion spillage occurs. Combustion spillage is the unwanted flow of combustion gases into the home. This occurs when a home becomes depressurized, and harmful combustion gases are sucked back into the home through vents or a flue (backdrafting). Depressurization can happen when a home is very air tight and all exhaust fans, such as range hoods, bathroom fans, the dryer etc. are running at the same time, drawing air from the inside to the outside of the home.

There are a number of ways to prevent combustion spillage, including:

  • Maintaining your combustion appliances
  • Inspect, maintain, and upgrade your chimney if necessary
  • Upgrade your appliances to models that are less prone to combustion spillage
  • Avoid conditions that cause backdrafting. This includes avoiding running several powerful exhaust devices at once.

If you renovate your home to be more air-tight, ensure you have proper ventilation and, if necessary, consider installing a balanced ventilation system such as an HRV.

Mould – if you discover mould in your home, it is essential that the mould is thoroughly removed, the areas cleaned and disinfected, and contaminated materials are properly disposed of. To control and reduce the potential for mould growth, control sources of moisture, maintain indoor humidity at recommended levels, and remedy infiltration and leakage.

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

What is the difference between a smart and programmable thermostat?

Using either a smart or programmable thermostat in your home is a great way to control your heating system and energy bills, and keep your home consistently comfortable.

Programmable Thermostat

A programmable thermostat is designed to adjust the temperature according to a series of programmed settings that take effect at different times of the day. For instance, you can set it to turn down to 16*C every evening at 10pm and turn back up to 21°C at 6:30 in the morning, and it will continue to adjust the room temperature for you automatically.

Smart thermostat

A smart thermostat is similar to a programmable thermostat in that you can set it to adjust temperatures at different times. The difference is that smart thermostats can learn from your behaviors or sense when you’re home, adjusting temperatures accordingly, and automatically allow you to control the climate of your home remotely. Some smart thermostats allow you to connect with Wi-Fi, giving you control from wherever you may be – the couch, the office, or even the other side of the globe.

Considerations

It should be noted that programmable thermostats are not recommended for heat pumps. When a heat pump is in cooling mode, turning up the thermostat will save energy and money. However, when a heat pump is in heating mode, setting back its thermostat can cause the unit to operate inefficiently. Maintaining a moderate setting is the most cost-effective practice when operating a heat pump.

Learn more about thermostats with FortisBC and BC Hydro.

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

What is the best way to reduce GHG’s emitted by my home?

The best way to reduce the greenhouse gases (GHG) emitted by your home is to switch from a greenhouse gas intensive heating fuel to a more climate friendly fuel type.

Fossil fuels are the most GHG intensive heating fuels, with oil having the highest emissions, followed by propane and natural gas. Other combustion fuels such as biofuels and wood-based fuels emit greenhouse gases as well. Electricity has the lowest GHG emissions, as over 90% of electricity in BC is from renewable hydroelectricity and electric space and hot-water heating systems are more efficient than fossil fuel.

While fuel-switching is the most effective way to reduce to reduce your GHG emissions, upgrading an old heating or hot water system to a more energy-efficient system of the same fuel type will also achieve GHG savings.

In all homes, when upgrading a space heating system it is wise to consider building envelope upgrades, such as draftproofing, insulation, and upgrading windows as well. A well-insulated, draft free  building envelope may allow you to install a smaller and more efficient heating system, will further improve the overall energy efficiency of your home, reduce GHG emissions and maximize the affordability of your heating bills.

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

How can I tell if my home uses too much energy?

Learn more about what makes a home energy-efficient with Natural Resources Canada.

According to Natural Resources Canada’s 2011 Survey of Household Energy Use (SHEU-2011), a single detached home in British Columbia consumes 118.8 gigajoules (GJ) of energy per year on average. However, this number can vary depending on a number of factors, such as: type of dwelling, year built, heated area and the number of occupants. Refer to the SHEU-2011 Energy Intensity Per Household Data Table for more details. If your energy consumption exceeds the SHEU-2011 benchmarks then your home may be consuming too much energy.

Another way to learn more about your energy consumption is by having an energy advisor come to your home and complete an EnerGuide Home Energy Evaluation. A program-qualified energy advisor will conduct various tests to measure the energy efficiency of your home. After the evaluation, the energy advisor will outline the energy inefficiencies of your home. They will also send you an EnerGuide rating label, a detailed report of your energy evaluation and recommendations for upgrades that will help improve your home’s energy efficiency. The Renovation Upgrade Report will give your current energy rating, and the rating you can achieve by completing the recommended energy efficiency upgrades.

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

What is a Home Energy Monitor?

A Home Energy Monitor is a device that continuously monitors your electricity usage and displays this information, in both dollar cost and kilowatts, in real time. The Home Energy Monitor will also display your daily, monthly, and accumulated totals, as well as your meter reading.

Through your BC Hydro MyHydro account, you may already be tracking your electricity use online – a home energy monitor simply allows you to track this information in real time. This helps to understand how and when you’re using electricity, as well as the associated costs, allowing you to take actions to reduce your usage and save money and energy.

To be eligible for a home energy monitor through BC Hydro you must meet these requirements:

  • Create an online MyHydro account with a linked profile. If you do not have one you can sign up;
  • Live in a residential detached or semi-detached home; this includes most townhomes, rowhomes and mobile homes; and
  • Have a connected smart meter with a strong network connection.

Learn more about home energy monitors with BC Hydro. You can purchase a home energy monitor through your BC Hydro MyHydro account.

If you are a FortisBC Electric customer, your advanced electricity meter will display information that will cycle through the advanced meter display every 6 seconds. You can access tools through FortisBC, like in-home displays, to help you better manage your electricity use. For more information on advanced meters, as well as in-home displays, visit your FortisBC Account Online, or contact FortisBC at 1-866-436-7847.

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

Why are my energy bills so high?

Your home energy consumption and the amount you pay on energy bills is based on many factors: size of home, energy efficiency of the home, type of heating system you use, the fuel type (electricity, gas, oil, propane) you use for space and hot water heating, the number of people living in your home and how house occupants use energy for space and water heating, appliances, lighting, cooking, bathing, etc.

There are many reasons why your energy bills may be higher than expected, or higher than you would like:

  • Insufficient insulation in your walls or attic
  • Air leakage issues
  • Inappropriately sized heating system
  • Inefficient space heating system
  • Inefficient hot water system
  • Heat loss through inefficient windows
  • High consumption of hot water for laundry and bathing
  • Other energy uses: hot tubs, space heaters, water pumps, energy used in workshops or outbuildings, etc.

Winter Energy Bills

During the winter months we experience colder and darker days which can increase your home’s energy consumption. Your bills tend to be higher during colder months because:

  • It takes more energy to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home
  • Space heaters may be used to supplement the home’s primary heating system
  • Lights are left on longer from spending more time in your home and the need to use lighting for longer during the day

Changes in Billing and/or Utility Rates

If you notice that your utility bill is higher, even though your energy consumption was similar to your previous bill, then you should look for other changes in your utility bill, such as:

  • An increase in your utility rate (how much you are charged for a given unit of energy consumption compared to your past energy bills).
  • Longer billing period length. You may have been charged for more days in your most recent billing period compared to previous bills.
  • Delayed meter reading. If your utility provider does not read your meter for a given billing period, they will make an estimate of your home’s energy consumption based on your history. The estimate may be higher than expected, but your bill should be adjusted the next time your meter is read.

Changes in Home Dynamics that May Impact Your Energy Bill

Some questions to ask yourself are:

  • Have you had visitors recently or tenants that have moved in?
  • Have you added any new appliances?
  • Are you completing any upgrades or renovations for your home?

Answering yes to any of the above questions could explain why your energy bills have increased.

For more information please visit the BC Hydro and FortisBC.

Solutions to high energy bills include:

  • Draftproof your home – reducing drafts and air leakage into your home you will save energy, improve home comfort and save on you energy bills.
  • Monitor your home energy consumption – installing a home energy meter or signing up for BC Hydro’s MyHydro service to monitor your usage and pinpoint peak energy consumption periods. You may identify a spike in your energy consumption that helps you understand you high energy consumption. For example, does your energy consumption spike on Sunday, the same day you do all your laundry?
  • Complete an EnerGuide Home Evaluation – an energy evaluation helps you identify options to reduce energy bills.
  • Hire a contractor to complete energy efficiency upgrades for your home – depending on your homes energy upgrade needs – insulation, heating and water systems, and window upgrades can all contribute to reducing energy consumption, which leads to smaller energy bills
  • Complete simple DIY upgrades – are you handy around the house and have some time for home improvements – Small changes add up and many changes can be done as Do-It-Yourself projects, see our FAQs for more information
  • Alter occupant behaviour – there are many steps you can take to reduce your energy consumption. Reduce the number of laundry loads or use cold water, consider hanging laundry on a clothes line, unplug electronics when not in use, turn off lights when you leave a room, take shorter showers, reduce the use of space heaters in occupied rooms, etc.

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

I have a heat pump but my hydro bills are still very high

If you heat your home with a heat pump, but are experiencing higher than expected energy bills check out the solutions below.

First read the FAQ, Why are my energy bills so high? as your hydro bill may be high for reasons unrelated to your heat pump

If you feel that you aren’t benefiting from the high efficiency of your heat pump systems, the following operating tips and information should be considered:

  • Building envelope – regardless of what system is used to heat and cool your home, the importance of an airtight and well insulated building envelope cannot be understated. Air leakage caused by cracks and gaps in the building envelope, along with inadequate insulation will force your heating system to work harder in the winter, and your cooling system to work harder in the summer. Heating and cooling systems consume more energy and cost more to operate when they have to work harder to maintain the desired temperature. Draftproofing and upgrading insulation in areas like your attic or basement/ crawlspace is a great place to start and can improve the building envelope and reduce energy loss, resulting in energy and cost savings. Speak with an insulation and air sealing contractor or an EnerGuide Rating System energy advisor to help you understand why your energy bills may be so high.
  • Thermostat location – the location of your thermostat is important. A thermostat that is located in the direct path of a heating register senses that the living area is warm before the area has actually reached the desired temperature. This can cause the unit to short-cycle, which turns the heat pump off before the living space has been conditioned. Conversely, thermostats placed next to drafty windows or doors may not sense when the living space has reached the desired temperature. This can lead to over-heating and increased energy consumption. If you suspect the location of your thermostat is an issue – speak with a professional heat pump contractor about the options, and costs, for moving the thermostat to a more appropriate location
  • Setting your thermostat – the air source heat pump indoor thermostat should be set at the desired comfort temperature and not readjusted. Repeatedly adjusting the indoor thermostat, or turning the unit on and off may cause the heat pump system’s supplementary heating system to kick in – causing your heating system to use more energy and increase your energy bills. We recommend checking your heat pump user’s manual for the recommended set point of your heat pump. In the cold winter months it is best to set your heat pump thermostat at your desired temperature and leave it at that temperature, this will reduce the number of times your heat pumps supplementary system will kick in (saving you money). If you wish to set back your thermostat do not set it back more than 2 degrees (for example if your preferred temperature is 21 degrees, do not set back your thermostat to lower than 19 degrees).
  • Emergency heat is only for emergencies – most thermostats have an emergency setting that when selected, forces your supplementary (back-up) heating system to kick in and take over 100% of the heating for the home. This can be expensive as the back-up heating system is less efficient than the heat pump. The emergency setting should only be selected when the heat pump is malfunctioning.
  • Do not use AUTO mode – AUTO mode allows the heat pump to switch from cooling to heat automatically. This can cause the system to switch modes when it is not necessary. It is recommended to keep the heat pump in “Heat” mode in the winter and “Cool” mode in the summer.
  • Review the owner’s manual – not all heat pumps are the same. Each brand and model of heat pump will have its own recommended set point and other operating suggestions to maximize the efficiency of that specific model of heat pump. Review your owner’s manual and discuss with your contractor the best way to operate your heat pump.

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

Which upgrades typically have the fastest payback period?

When thinking about the payback period for your upgrades, the simple payback is one of the easiest way to look at your investment.

Simple payback is the length of time it takes to recoup the initial investment of the energy upgrade. The basic formula for calculating payback period is:

Payback period (in years) = cost of upgrade / energy savings per year

There are a few factors that should be considered when thinking about simple payback:

  • The life span of the product will determine for how long you will benefit form energy savings before having to replace it.
  • Changes to utility rates will affect the amount of money you save on energy costs.

Upgrades that typically have the fastest payback period are lower cost home energy improvements such as high efficiency aerators and shower heads, draftproofing, lighting, and adding insulation to previously uninsulated exterior walls. However, often it can be a wise financial investment to undertake higher cost home energy improvements that have a longer simple payback – but will save you more each year and over the lifetime of the improvement. While not as straight forward as simple payback – higher cost home energy improvements may have a strong return on investment.

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

Why is my home so cold in the winter?

Some areas of your home may be difficult to keep warm due to:

  • Insufficient insulation – insufficient insulation can cause heat to escape from your home through your roof, walls, basement, foundation or crawlspace. For example, insufficient insulation in your crawlspace or basement can account for 20-30% of a home’s total heat loss.
  • Air leakage issues – most homes lose warm air to the outside and let cold air in through gaps and cracks in walls and under and around doors and windows. The amount of air leakage in a home can vary dramatically and may make your home feel drafty and cold.
  • Inappropriately sized or inefficient heating system – if interior temperatures are not maintained, your heating system may be too small or inefficient to support your home’s heating demands and keep you comfortable.
  • Inefficient space heating systems – baseboard heaters can account for 50% of your home’s overall electricity use.
  • Inadequate heating system ducts – if your home heating ducts are improperly sized, have leaky joints or have been poorly installed – heat may not be distributed effectively through your home. This may be the reason why some rooms in your home are difficult to keep warm. 
  • Inefficient windows – you may feel cold drafts near your older, single-pane windows. Inefficient windows will result in higher levels of heat loss and contribute to you feeling cold both near your windows, and throughout your home.

Energy efficiency solutions that can help keep your home warm during the winter months include:

  • Insulation – contact a registered energy advisor and/or a professional insulation contractor for recommendations on how to best improve the insulation in your home.
  • Draftproofing – see our FAQ, Where do I start to reduce drafts and improve my home?
  • Inappropriately sized heating system – contact a professional HVAC contractor to discuss options to upgrade your heating system. If your home is under insulated with high levels of air leakage – these are home energy improvements that should be considered prior to installing a new heating system.
  • Inadequate heating system ducts – if your heating system ducts are not functioning effectively, speak with a professional HVAC contractor about the options to fix the ducting or switch to a ductless type heating system
  • Replace old windows with efficient models – consider new energy efficient windows to block cold air from entering your home, and heat from escaping. See our FAQ Why is it important to select the right windows for my home?

Ask your energy advisor or contractor about which home energy improvements will be most effective for improving the energy efficiency of your home.

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

Why is my home so hot in the summer?

There are many factors that can cause a home to get too hot in the summer, and many of them are energy efficiency issues:

  • Insufficient attic insulation – in the summer, and on other hot days, radiant heat from the sun can permeate through your roof and heat up your attic like a solar heated oven. If you have insufficient insulation in your attic – the radiant heat will pass through the insulation into your living space causing the air inside your home to become warmer, and sometimes too hot.
  • Inadequate attic ventilation – if there is insufficient attic ventilation, the temperature in the attic can build up due to heat that radiates into the attic. If the attic is under-insulated and/or if there is air leakage between your attic and living space the warm air from the attic will increase the temperature in your home.
  • Insufficient wall insulation – if your south and west facing walls have high exposure to direct sun and are uninsulated or under insulated – the heat from the sun will pass through the walls and heat up your home.
  • Air leakage – if there are gaps and cracks in your home (under doors, around windows, through attic penetrations, around your foundation, etc.) warm air will leak into your home increasing the temperature, and potentially the humidity levels, in your home.
  • Inefficient windows – if you have many windows or large windows that have direct exposure to the sun (your home is facing south/west) and the windows are not energy efficient, heat can easily enter your home on hot days, causing high indoor temperatures.
  • Insufficient ventilation within your home – especially in the summer, homes lacking proper ventilation (bathroom fan/range hood fan) can fill with stale air, and may feel stuffy and humid.

Energy efficiency solutions and behaviour changes that can help keep your home cool during the summer include:

  • Attic insulation – ensure your attic is sufficiently insulated. The BC Home Energy Coach program recommends that homeowners strive to increase their attic insulation to R40 or R50 levels (if appropriate and recommended by a professional attic insulation contractor). Draftproofing should also be completed in your attic prior to adding insulation.
  • Attic ventilation – if there is insufficient ventilation in your attic, have new air vents installed to meet current building codes ventilation requirements. When replacing roof shingles this is a good time to increase roof ventilation.
  • Wall insulation – sufficient insulation in the walls will slow the movement of heat from the exterior of the home into the interior. Homeowners should work with a professional insulation contractor and have all walls fully insulated. If replacing the siding for your home this is a good opportunity to have insulation blown into the walls and/or added to the exterior of your home.
  • Air leakage – draftproofing can be a cost effective strategy to keep your home cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. See the FAQ, Where do I start to reduce drafts and improve my home?
  • Windows – installing new, high-performance windows can act as a barrier between indoor and outdoor temperatures, keep the cool air in, and save you up to 8% on your energy bills. Talk to your window installer to help choose the best windows for the comfort of your home.
  • Air conditioning – if air conditioning is required or desired, an air source heat pump is the most energy efficient and most climate friendly form of home heating and cooling currently available. See the FAQ, What are the benefits of mini-ductless air source heat pumps
  • Heat recovery ventilators (HRV) – can improve indoor air quality by removing stale air and circulating clean, fresh air throughout the home.
  • Using appliances less – minimizing the amount of heat you’re generating is a simple way to lower the temperature in your home. For example, on hot days plan for meals that do not require using the oven.
  • Keeping the heat out – keeping the windows and blinds closed during peak hot hours of the day can help to block heat that enters your home through your windows. In the early morning and in the evening when it cools down, open your windows to let cool air in.
  • Improving air flow – using a ceiling fan can lower indoor air temperatures by up to 10%. During the summer, set your ceiling fan to rotate counter-clockwise. When the air is cooler outside than it is inside (for example, in the early morning), you can also place a fan near a window to draw cool air into the home.
  • Landscape for shade – planting the right size tree in the right place can block sunlight and help keep your home cool during the summer months. A deciduous tree will block heat in the summer and allow the heat to pass through in the winter, when the leaves have fallen. Trees planted on the east, west, and northwest sides of the home will provide afternoon shade.
  • Install shading – exterior blinds or shades can block sunlight during the hottest times of the day, keeping the indoors cool.

Ask your energy advisor or contractor about which home energy improvements will be most effective for improving the energy efficiency of your home and maintaining a comfortable temperature all year round.

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

Which home energy improvements will make my home quieter?

Several home energy improvements will have the added benefit of making your home quieter by creating a sound barrier from outside noise.

  • Upgrade to efficient double or triple pane windows – modern and efficient double or triple pane windows can soundproof outside noise better than single pane windows and older double pane windows. Energy-efficient windows can also reduce your heating and cooling costs and eliminate cold drafts and condensation.
  • Maximizing wall and attic insulation – upgrading to better insulation or adding more insulation not only helps reduce your energy bills and increase the comfort of your home, but also acts a sound barrier to reduce outside noise. The way your insulation is installed plays a large role in its effectiveness. Ensure that you ask your insulation contractor to sufficiently fill cavities and leave no gaps for air leakage.
  • Draftproofing – sealing air leaks throughout your home can also make your home quieter. Ensure that doors and windows fit snugly by applying weatherstripping to all movable joints and around window and door frames.
  • Upgrade older, non-insulated doors – doors made with a hollow core construction do not block sound effectively. By upgrading to insulated, solid core doors, you create a more effective sound barrier and reduce the heat loss of your home.

Ask your energy advisor or contractor which home energy improvements will help soundproof your home and reduce outside noise.

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

I am a renter, is there anything I can do to make my home more energy efficient?

Whether you live in an apartment building or a suite in a home, as a renter there are many things you can do to improve the energy efficiency of your home. This in turn can improve the comfort of your home, and potentially help to lower your energy bills.

Simple Water Conservation Measures

Installing efficient showerheads and tap aerators will help you cut down on the amount of water you use, without sacrificing water pressure and provide you with the most cost effective option for reducing home energy bills. If you live in an income-qualifying household, you can receive a free Energy Saving Kit, or participate in the Energy Conservation Assistance Program. These programs provide free energy saving products, including water-efficient showerheads and kitchen and bathroom faucet aerators.

Energy Efficient Lighting

LED bulbs use less power and are available in a variety of shades, shapes and sizes, and last 10-25 times longer than traditional bulbs. As you purchase new lights, consider buying the high efficiency LED lighting to save money on your electricity bill. Be sure to keep your bulbs clean, as dust will reduce light output.

Draftproofing for Savings and Comfort

Draftproofing is a home energy upgrade that can be cost effective for lowering home energy bills and improving home comfort. See the FAQs, Where do I start to reduce drafts and improve my home? and What are the benefits of draftproofing?

Tips to Maximize Efficient Heating

Renters are not likely to replace space heating equipment, but there are ways to ensure that your heating system is operating to maximum efficiency – saving you money and enhancing comfort.

To not restrict the flow of heat in your home (and for safety reasons) do not place beds, drapery and furniture too close to baseboard heaters or radiators and do not cover floor or wall heating vents with furniture. Heat only the rooms you’re using. Lower the thermostat if you have baseboard heaters in rooms you’re not using. A minimum of once per year, vacuum your baseboards to ensure they are working effectively.

Tips to Keep You Cool

There are several cost effective options to help you keep your home cool when the temperature outside rises. In the early morning and once the sun goes down, open your windows and or doors to let cool air in. During the heat of the day, keep you windows, curtains and blinds closed to prevent the sun and warm exterior air from heating up your house. Use a fan to help circulate air. If you have a ceiling fan, set it to summer mode (counter-clockwise as you look up at it) to move the air downward to create a wind chill effect. Avoid using your oven

Rebate Programs

If you live in an income-qualifying household you can apply for the Energy Conservation Assistance Program or for a Free Energy Saving Kit.

The Energy Conservation Assistance Program provides a free in-home visit with free energy-saving product installation, as well as advice and tips for how you can improve your home’s efficiency. The free Energy Saving Kit Program provides free energy saving products you can install yourself.

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

How do I reduce humidity levels in my home?

In order to decrease humidity levels in your home and prevent moisture problems, you will have to produce less humidity and increase the ventilation of your home. The following is a list of suggestions to reduce humidity levels in your home:

  • Be aware of sources of moisture in your home (plants, aquariums, steam showers, cleaning, washing, cooking, etc.) and compensate with sufficient ventilation.
  • Ensure that your home has appropriate exterior water barriers to protect your home from outdoor moisture.
  • Your kitchen and bathrooms should have ventilation fans to expel indoor moisture. Many older ventilation fans make noise but are ineffective at actually ventilating your home. A simple way to test that your fan is functioning sufficiently is to take a single square of toilet paper and place it along the fan vent while the fan is running. If the fan does not hold up the toilet paper, it is not functioning properly.
  • Consider installing a humidistat for your bathroom ventilation fan, or ensure that you run the fan for at least 15-20 minutes after each shower.
  • Fix all water leaks into the basement and do not allow any standing water in the house or against the foundation wall.
  • If necessary, repair or replace the drainage tile around your home or install a sump pump to remove excessive moisture from the soil under the slab. Speak with a knowledgeable contractor about the best option for your home.
  • Disconnect any humidifiers (if unnecessary).
  • If required, use a dehumidifier.
  • Do not store and dry wood in the house, and avoid hang-drying laundry in the house, as it releases moisture into your indoor air.
  • Ask your energy advisor or contractor about which home energy improvements will help reduce the humidity of your home.

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

How do I reduce the amount of condensation on my windows?

Condensation occurs when water vapour is cooled to the point where it condenses as water droplets on a cold surface. Greater accumulations of condensation will appear on colder window temperatures and homes with high humidity levels. To reduce the amount of condensation on your windows you can:

Reduce the humidity levels in your house

  • Ensure that your home has appropriate exterior water barriers to protect your home from outdoor moisture.
  • Your kitchen and bathrooms should have ventilation fans to expel indoor moisture.
  • Fix all water leaks into the basement and do not allow any standing water in the house or against the foundation wall.
  • If necessary, install a sump pump to remove excessive moisture from the soil under the slab.
  • Disconnect any humidifiers (if not necessary).
  • If required, use a dehumidifier.

Increase the surface temperature of your windows and frames

  • Invest in window frames made out of vinyl, wood or fiberglass.
  • Energy efficient windows made with a double or triple glaze and low-E (low-emissivity) will also increase the temperature of your windows and reduce condensation build-up.
  • Draftproof your windows with weatherstripping tape.

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

Why is it important to check and possibly upgrade ventilation systems after building envelope upgrades?

Building envelope upgrades such as draftproofing (air sealing), installing new windows and upgrading insulation improve the air tightness of your home and keep the heat in more efficiently. However, an increase in airtightness may also increase the humidity levels of your home. It is important to have an adequate ventilation system to ensure that you have sufficient ventilation through your home to prevent moisture problems (e.g. condensation and mould).

Ask your energy advisor or contractor what ventilation system upgrades you will need for your home.

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

Which upgrades are most appropriate for preserving the heritage and character elements of a home and achieving energy savings?

To preserve the architectural heritage of older homes and improve energy efficiency, retrofits should minimize changes to the building’s appearance and focus on repairs rather than replacement. Below are a list of energy saving upgrades appropriate for heritage homes:

  • Draftproofing – comprehensive draftproofing (air sealing) is an effective way to make older homes more energy efficient. (See Where do I start to reduce drafts and improve my home?)
  • Storm Windows – an important aspect of a heritage home’s character is its windows. If original wooden storm windows have been destroyed, you can install custom storm windows made to order. The benefits of installing wood storm windows include improved thermal efficiency, reducing moisture transfer, and compatibility with traditional wood-frame house construction. Avoid metal storm windows and storm-and-screen combinations if you want to preserve the appearance of your heritage home. Interior storm windows are less noticeable and easier to maintain than exterior storm windows.
  • Insulation Upgrades – heritage homes often have little or no insulation; by adding or upgrading insulation levels, you can significantly improve the thermal efficiency of your home. To preserve both the interior and exterior wall finishes, homeowners can have insulation blown into the cavity of a wood frame wall. Basements and attics can often be insulated without affecting the heritage appearance. When upgrading insulation in older homes, it’s also important to have a sufficient vapour and air barrier.
  • Heating System Upgrades – upgrading to a size-appropriate and energy-efficient heating system can help you achieve energy savings without altering the heritage appearance of your home.
  • Domestic Hot Water Upgrades – another cost-effective way to improve the energy efficiency of a heritage home is to upgrade your domestic heating and hot water system to energy efficient models. This retrofit will generally have a short payback period and will not damage the heritage and character elements of your home.

Do you live in the City of Vancouver? Check out the Heritage Energy Retrofit Grant. The Vancouver Heritage Foundation offers grants for energy efficiency upgrades and discounts for EnerGuide home evaluations.

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

Hiring a Contractor

Where can I find a contractor that is right for the job, and what should I know before hiring them?

When hiring a contractor, it’s important that you are choosing them for the quality of their work and for their training and credentials rather than solely on price. There are a variety of consequences to hiring someone that is going to do a poor job installing your equipment. We recommend calling around to different installers in your area to ensure that they can meet your time frame, the scope of the project, and are well qualified for the job.

Before you hire a contractor, clearly establish the scale of the project and a clear budget to work within. Write a complete description of the work you want done on your home. By doing so you will understand the scope of your project and you can find a contractor that will be the most suitable for the job. This detailed description should be given to potential contractors when you ask for a bid or proposal for your project.

Go through a proper screening process before hiring a contractor:

FortisBC also has some helpful tips on hiring a contractor.

Find a Contractor*

Use the following directories to help you find a contractor for your project. We recommend calling multiple contractors to ensure that they can meet your time frame, the scope of the project, and are well qualified for the job.

Many people have success finding contractors based on recommendations from family, friends and neighbours, or by searching the directories below.

For tips on hiring a contractor, visit the Canadian Home Builders’ Association.

For tips on hiring a gas contractor, visit FortisBC.

Find a Builder/Renovator*

If you are looking for an Energy Advisor, visit the Program-Qualified Energy Advisor list.

*Disclaimer: The directories and resources listed on this page are for informational purposes only. CleanBC Better Homes and its partners do not endorse or guarantee contractors or their services. It is your responsibility to interview and select a contractor that meets your needs.

 

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

Do I have to work with a Program Registered Contractor?

You are not required to work with a Program Registered Contractor to participate in the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Programs.  When hiring an installer for your energy efficiency upgrades and renovations, it’s a good practice to look for an installer’s certifications and credentials.  Check out our Hiring a Contractor FAQs for tips and advice when hiring a contractor.

Program Registered Contractors have completed:

  • Training with FortisBC and BC Hydro on the Home Renovation Rebate Program and CleanBC Home Efficiency Rebates.
  • Completed best practice training: Insulation contractors complete additional air sealing and insulation best practice training. Heat pump contractors complete additional heat pump installation best practice and building science fundamentals training.
  • Registered with WorkSafeBC. Confirm the business’ current standing with WorkSafeBC prior to choosing a Program Registered Contractor.

To find a Program Registered Contractor near you, check out our Program Registered Contractor search tool.

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

What accreditations do I look for when hiring contractors/installers?

When hiring an installer for your energy efficiency upgrades and renovations, it’s a good practice to look for an installer’s certifications and credentials.

Accreditations you should look for include:

  • A business license that ensures they have met the licensing requirements for British Columbia.
  • Trade membership with trade associations such as the Heating, Refrigerating, and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI), the National Energy Conservation Association (NECA), and the Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA). Association memberships are often an indication that contractors are concerned about the quality of work in the industry.
  • Better Business Bureau records to see if they are accredited, how long they’ve been in business and if there are complaints filed against them.
  • Technical qualifications specific to the work you would like a contractor to complete. Ask prospective installers what technical education and qualifications they possess and how regularly they update them.

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

What questions should I ask a contractor during the interview process?

During your first interview with a potential contractor it’s important to obtain as much information as possible. This will help you determine the contractor’s credibility and capacity to carry out your home-building or renovation project. Below are a list of key questions to ask contractors:

  • What is the history of your company?
  • What services do you offer?
  • What work are you, and/or your subcontractors licensed to do?
  • Have you done a job similar to ours before?
  • Can we talk to some of your past clients?
  • Can we visit one of your current projects?
  • Do you carry Workers’ Compensation and business liability insurance?
  • What kind of warranty do you offer and what does it cover?
  • Will you take out all required permits for the job?
  • Will we get a written contract?
  • How would you deal with our project?

It will be useful to record the answers during each interview because it allows you to compare the contractors and help you choose the right one for the job.

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

How do I ensure that I am getting a fair price for my requested services from a contractor?

Obtain at least three estimates, quotes, or proposals from different contractors. In order to receive accurate estimates from a contractor, you need to give a description of the work that needs to be done on your home. Give contractors a detailed description of the job and any specifications you have for equipment or materials.

Assess each bid or proposal. After you have at least three bids or proposals, compare them carefully to ensure that everything you asked for is in the estimate. Always assume that anything not listed in the proposal is not included in the price given.

Do not automatically choose the contractor who gives you the lowest bid. Estimates that are significantly lower than their competitors may indicate that the contractor misunderstood the scope of the project. They may have also lowered costs by substituting lower quality materials or by having a lower quality installation of the product. You can follow-up with contractors if there is any information that is missing or unclear.

Check contractor references. Get in touch with each of the contractor’s references and check their Better Business Bureau rating to help you make an informed decision. This will help you get a better sense of a contractor’s work performance and quality of materials used. Overall, you should choose the contractor that you feel will give you the best overall value for your money.

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

What should be included in my written contract with a contractor?

When hiring a contractor for a larger home renovation, it’s important to get everything in writing. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association recommends that your written contract should include the following:

  • The parties to the contract (e.g. you and the contractor), including street addresses, telephone and fax numbers, email addresses and the contractor’s business or GST number.
  • Addendums. The main contract must also identify all attachments that are part of the contract, such as:
    • Drawings/blueprints/plans
    • Specifications: description of work and a precise list of materials and products (e.g. types, brands, grades, thickness, colour, model)
    • Other documents signed by both parties in the course of the contract (e.g. change order forms)
  • Description of work to be done by the contractor, as well as work not to be done under the contract, or to be done by you or others outside the terms of the contract.
  • Start and completion dates often include a statement indicating that the contractor cannot be responsible for delays due to circumstances beyond the contractor’s control (changes to the work, adverse weather conditions, etc.).
  • Terms of payment set out the total amount of the contract and a payment schedule: deposit upon signing the contract; how and when the remainder will be paid (at regular intervals or specific milestones), and the treatment of taxes.
  • Holdbacks are a provincial legislative requirement that protects you against subcontractors who may place a lien on your property in the event the contractor doesn’t pay them. On each payment you make to your contractor, you must hold back a certain percentage for a specified length of time.
  • Changes in work once the building or renovation project is in progress (also called extras and deletions) must be written up as “change orders,” signed by both parties and attached to the contract. Any change to the contract price and schedule should be clearly noted on the order.
  • Allowances refer to a lump sum in the contract price, allocated for items to be selected directly by the homeowners, such as flooring, fixtures or cabinets.
  • Contingencies refer to an amount set aside to deal with the unexpected or items that the contractor cannot gauge accurately until work is in progress. If not needed, you won’t be invoiced for it.
  • Standards of work describe the contractor’s commitment to performing the work in accordance with the contract documents and in a diligent and workmanlike manner with minimum inconvenience to your household, to protect your property as well as neighbouring properties and to comply with regulatory requirements. Includes responsibility for daily clean-up.
  • The contractor’s liability insurance and workers’ compensation coverage must be paid up to date and proof of coverage provided and attached to the contract.
  • Municipal and/or utility permits, inspections and approvals are usually arranged by professional contractors as part of their service (note that homeowners are ultimately responsible for complying with these regulations). The contract should specify who is going to obtain them.
  • The contractor’s warranty describes what is covered and for how long. It should include a statement of the contractor’s intent to hand over manufacturers’ product warranties to you upon completion of work.
  • Subcontractors scheduled to work on your home may be listed.
  • Use of facilities and utilities should be outlined-water, electricity, washroom and storage for materials.
  • Signage. A statement that you will permit the contractor to display a promotional sign on your property during the project.
  • Dispute resolution in the event of a conflict – may include the name of a third party arbitrator, or state that both parties agree to binding arbitration.

Fill in any blank spaces on the contract with N/A (not applicable), strike out anything you don’t agree with, and make sure that you and the contractor initial any changes. Don’t sign the contract until you have reviewed it and are fully satisfied. You may wish to consider having the contract reviewed by your lawyer. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it might be.

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

How do I protect myself against fraud and deception?

  • Go through the proper screening process before hiring a contractor. Look for reputable contractors, interview potential contractors, learn about their credentials and certifications, obtain at least three written bids or proposals from potential contractors, and follow-up with their references. See the FAQ, “Where can I find a qualified contractor that is right for the job, and what should I know before hiring them?
  • Avoid cash deals. A cash deal is when a contractor offers a lower price for their services in exchange for a cash payment and no written contract or receipts. Cash deals can result in incomplete or poor-quality work, accidents or injuries in your home, injured workers and no warranty.
  • Take precaution with door-to-door contractors. Be wary of businesses that rely on door-to-door sales because they may be unreliable and lack a permanent office location or phone number that you can call if problems occur with products or installations. Always insist on seeing the sales representative’s business card. Door-to-door sales contractors have also been implicated in fraudulent activities.
  • Have a written contract. Once you hire a contractor, make sure that the contract includes detailed instructions of the project and clear expectations for the contractors. Have it checked by your lawyer and carefully read the fine print. See the FAQ, “What should be included in my written contract with a contractor?
  • Follow up with your contractor throughout the building and renovation process. As a homeowner it’s your responsibility to make sure that the job is done on time and on budget.

For more information on fraud and deception, visit Natural Resources Canada’s Consumer Caution webpage.

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

How do I locate someone to remove my oil tank safely?

Oil tanks can represent a hazard to the local environment and a significant financial liability for you if they leak or spill. Cleanup costs for oil tank leaks are the responsibility of the homeowner, and your private home insurance likely does not cover these costs. Check with your local government whether they require you to obtain a permit for removing your oil tank. Whether or not a permit is required, in order to access the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program you must:

  • Remove and dispose of, or decommission, your oil heating equipment in accordance with all relevant regulations, including the BC Fire Code.
  • Provide required documentation.

Your private house insurance provider may also require oil tank removal documentation, which may be different than what the CleanBC Better Homes and Home Renovation Rebate Program requires. Please check directly with your insurance company before removing your oil tank. Similarly, if removal of an oil tank is a condition of sale for your home, please also ensure you have adequate documentation for those purposes, which may be different than the documentation requirements for this rebate program.

The person that removes your oil tank can be a local contractor or handyperson, however it is important to ensure that it is done safely, and with the appropriate permit if required. If you are located within the Capital Regional District, visit their website to learn how to safely dispose of your oil tank.

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

What are some of the consequences of hiring a contractor who doesn’t sell quality products or provide a professional installation?

If you don’t take the time to select a professional contractor with the expertise to complete your home renovation or installation, you may have to deal with unforeseen consequences. Below is a partial list of problems that can arise if a contractor uses lower-quality products and/or does not complete a professional installation:

  • Paying a higher or lower price for a lower quality product and installation resulting in higher annual energy bills and potentially a shorter lifespan requiring another upgrade sooner than anticipated.
  • Installation of a heating system that is not working effectively causing comfort issues, higher noise levels in the home, higher energy bills and other issues.
  • Installation of a poorly designed heating system resulting in uneven heating, oversized or undersized system, comfort issues, higher energy bills, and/or louder operation.
  • Installation of insulation without adequate draftproofing prior to installation potentially causing issues with moisture and mould in your home.
  • Installation of insulation that is compressed or with gaps, reducing the effectiveness of the insulation, resulting in home comfort issues and higher utility bills than anticipated.
  • Installation of upgrades without resolving underlying issues first (e.g. water leaks), resulting in more expenses later to correct the issues and redo the upgrades.
  • Installing products that improve the air tightness of your home without improving ventilation, causing condensation on windows, issues with mould and negatively impacting indoor air quality.
  • Installation of the wrong type of South and West facing windows, resulting in overheating, comfort issues and potentially extra energy consumption for air conditioning.

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

What if I’m not satisfied with my contractor’s service?

If you are not satisfied with the service that your contractor has provided, there are a few actions that you can take:

  • Discuss your issues and concerns with the contractor. They may willing to work with you to find solutions for any issues you have with their service.
  • File a complaint. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has an online complaint system that can help you handle your dispute.
  • Leave a review. By sharing your experience and leaving a review of your contractor, you help to inform potential customers and clients about what they can expect when dealing with that contractor. The Better Business Bureau allows you to review local businesses and contractors. The BBB also gives businesses a rating based on a number of factors, including how they respond to customer complaints.

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

DIY

Can I do my energy efficiency upgrades myself?

There are many home energy upgrades that homeowners can complete themselves. With a few special tools, the right materials, and careful execution, do-it-yourselfers can reap the benefits of cost savings and a more energy efficient home. See the FAQ, “What are the most cost effective DIY home energy improvements?

BC Hydro and FortisBC provide helpful resources and videos for projects you can do yourself to improve the energy efficiency of your home. Please note that some rebate programs require energy efficiency products to be installed by a licensed contractor.

Some types of energy upgrades are best done by a licensed contractor with experience and specialized equipment. It’s also important to keep in mind that some rebate programs require licensed contractors to install energy upgrades in order for homeowners to be eligible.

Consider hiring a contractor for the following upgrades:

  • Insulation
  • New windows and doors
  • Heating system upgrades
  • Hot water heater upgrades

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

What are the most cost effective DIY home energy improvements?

Depending on how handy you are with home improvements there are a variety of DIY home energy improvements you can implement.

Hot Water Savings

  • Fix leaky faucets by replacing worn-out washers and tightening valves.
  • Install high efficiency kitchen and bathroom tap aerators and water-saving showerheads.

Lighting Upgrades

  • Where possible, upgrade your lights to ENERGY STAR® LEDs that provide long-lasting energy savings. A great place to start is replacing the most frequently frequently used lights in your home.
  • Use motion sensors for outdoor lights.
  • Invest in lighting controls that have dimmers or timers.

Draftproofing

Heating and Cooling

  • Follow manufacture recommendations for changing or cleaning furnace filters.
  • Maintain your fireplace by closing the damper tightly when not in use. If you no longer use your fireplace, fill the chimney with insulation and tightly seal the damper with weatherstripping.
  • Check your heating duct system regularly for visible leaks in common leakage sites such as the heating unit, floor joists, duct connections and space around air registers and grilles. Surface leaks can be sealed with duct mastic or foil tape and once sealed, insulation can be installed.
  • Install programmable/smart thermostats that can be programmed to appropriate temperatures.
  • Cover bare floors with rugs for warmer feet, especially with floors that have insufficient insulation.
  • If your home heats up too much in the summer, consider installing  an ENERGY STAR ceiling fan with summer mode (spins counter-clockwise) to create a wind chill effect and move air downwards.
  • Ensure that your attic is well-ventilated so that hot air can escape during the summer months and keep your home cooler.

Appliances and Electronics

  • Use power bars/strips to plug in printers, computers and monitors, DVD players, TVs, game consoles and other electronics. The power strips will switch off power to these devices when they’re not in use or if you’re away from home.
  • Ensure that your fridge or freezer door is tightly sealed and replace the gasket or seal when needed.

To find the most energy-efficient models for your home, visit the Natural Resources Canada searchable product list or BC Hydro’s list of energy-efficient products.

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

What resources are available for DIY home energy improvements?

Other

Is the BC Home Energy Coach still available?

While the name “BC Home Energy Coach” is not being used, the same Energy Coaching service is still available through CleanBC. Visit the Contact Us page to get connected with an Energy Coach!

What are the permit requirements in the City of Vancouver?

If you are located in the City of Vancouver (COV) and you are planning renovations in your home you might need a renovation permit to be in compliance with the Vancouver Building Bylaw. When applying for a renovation permit and the value of the renovation is more than $5000, you’re required to have an EnerGuide evaluation and submit a Renovation Energy Upgrade Proposal to the City of Vancouver.

Depending on the total value of the project, the COV has specific energy efficiency upgrade requirements as described below.

Total Project Value Upgrade level
Renovation applications with a value greater than $5000 but not more than $25,000: Complete an EnerGuide home evaluation and provide the following documents:

  • Homeowner Information Sheet
  • Renovation Upgrade Report
  • Renovation Energy Upgrade Proposal

If work includes replacement of boiler or furnace, annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) must be equal to or greater than 92%.

Renovation applications with a value greater than $25,000 but not more than $50,000 as above, plus: As above, plus:

  • If the Renovation Upgrade Report indicates greater than 5 air changes per hour (ACH), building envelope air sealing is required.
Renovation applications with a value greater than $50,000: As above, plus:

  • If attic insulation is less than R12 increase to R28.
  • If attic insulation is equal to or greater than R12 increase to R40
  • If exterior walls are touched increase insulation to R22 effective
  • Attic insulation should not exceed R43.7

Your renovation may not be able to comply with specific upgrade requirements.  In these cases, speak with your Energy Advisor who conducted the EnerGuide home evaluation about Alternative Upgrades to the prescribed requirements.

If you have any questions about your renovation plans, speak with the City of Vancouver directly at 604-873-7611 to confirm whether you require a renovation permit and specific upgrade requirements.

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

Do I need a permit for my upgrade?

The purpose of the permit process and related inspections is to ensure that the work on your home is structurally sound and meets provincial and/or municipal requirements for health and safety. During the planning stage of your building project or renovations, it’s important to check with the building department of your municipality directly to confirm permit requirements.

Ask your contractor to confirm the permits required for home energy improvements. Contractors committed to quality installations and good customer service will not try to talk you out of upgrading your home without the required permits.

In addition, we recommend that you contact your municipality and inquire about their permitting requirements. Generally, only extensive renovations that include modifying the layout of your home such as adding an addition or moving walls may require a permit. It is always best practice to inquire with your municipality before starting any work on the home.

If you live within the City of Vancouver there are additional bylaws for renovation permits. Visit our FAQ on the City of Vancouver’s permit requirements.

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

How do I find an energy efficient home to buy?

If you’re looking to buy a new home, there are a number of ways to find an energy efficient home. Look for homes that are certified as a Passive House, Built Green, or with Natural Resources Canada’s (NRCan) EnerGuide Rating System or ENERGY STAR® certificate and label (usually placed on the home’s electrical panel). An ENERGY STAR certified home meets the ENERGY STAR standard for enhanced energy efficiency. On average, an ENERGY STAR certified new home will be 20% more efficient than a home built to code.

According to NRCan, typical features of an ENERGY STAR home include:

  • Efficient heating and cooling systems that use less energy, reduce indoor humidity and improve the overall comfort of your home.
  • High-performance ENERGY STAR windows, patio doors, and skylights that keep the heat in during the winter and out during the summer.
  • Walls and ceilings insulated beyond what is required by the building code.
  • A variety of ENERGY STAR products that use less electricity by meeting strict technical specifications.
  • A heat or energy recovery ventilation system (HRV or ERV) that ensures your home has controlled ventilation.

Another way to gauge a home’s energy efficiency is by asking the seller if they’ve conducted an EnerGuide home evaluation. If so, ask to see the EnerGuide home label to get a better sense of the home’s annual energy consumption.  You can also ask the seller if the home has energy efficient or ENERGY STAR products.

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

How do I promote the energy efficiency of my home when selling it?

Energy efficiency improvements are not as flashy as kitchen or bathroom renovations or a new coat of paint, which usually top the list of best renovations for home value improvement at time of sale. That being said, third-party energy rating or certification systems do help homes sell for a premium.

If you have completed an EnerGuide home evaluation be sure to inform your REALTOR® so that potential buyers can see your home’s EnerGuide rating and label and learn about the energy efficient features of your home, such as:

  • Insulation levels
  • Heating and cooling systems
  • Windows and doors
  • Water heating systems
  • Appliances
  • Lighting
  • Ventilation
  • Draftproofing

If you haven’t completed an EnerGuide home evaluation, consider having one done by a program-qualified energy advisor. The EnerGuide label can be an important selling point for prospective buyers as it lets them assess the home’s energy performance and see how it might affect their utility bills. Ensure that you have a post-retrofit energy evaluation to verify your upgraded EnerGuide rating and include this on the MLS listing.

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

I’m interested in solar energy. How do I find out if it’s a good option for me?

Solar energy is an affordable alternative energy source that can be used to help heat and power your home or business. The active solar technology becoming more common is Solar Photovoltaic (Solar PV). Solar PV systems use solar cells to convert sunlight directly into electricity.

Solar PV systems are comprised of solar panels, inverters, breakers and mounting equipment. The solar panel generates power by converting sunlight to direct current electricity. Inverters are then used to convert the direct current electricity into alternating current to be used in your home.

Considerations

  • The potential for solar energy varies across Canada and British Columbia.
  • Before installing a solar system on your home’s roof, consider your roof’s current condition and if rework is needed in the near future.
  • Assessing how much energy your home requires on a daily, monthly, yearly, and seasonal basis will give you an idea of whether solar energy is economically viable for your home.
  • Engage an experienced and reputable solar energy installer to learn more about the right system for your home.

Rebate Programs

The BC Hydro Net Metering Program is designed for those who generate electricity for their own use. When you generate more than you need, you sell it to BC Hydro. When you don’t generate enough to meet your needs, you buy it from them. Any excess electricity is carried over to the following month and applied to that month’s consumption. If any excess power is left over a year from your net metering anniversary date, you will receive a financial credit from BC Hydro.

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

What is a net zero energy home? How can I make my home a net zero home?

A net-zero energy (NZE) home produces as much energy as it consumes on a yearly basis and has at least one on-site renewable energy system. NZE homes are not necessarily energy autonomous or off-grid because they can be connected to the electricity grid and supply energy back to the grid when the home produces more energy than it needs. In the span of a year the energy supplied to the grid should balance the energy drawn from the grid to achieve net-zero annual energy consumption.

To make your home a NZE home, there are three steps to consider when designing and building your home:

  1. Reduce the home’s energy requirements.
  2. Include renewable energy systems to provide the amount of energy required to operate the home.
  3. Operate the home efficiently.

For more information on the steps toward a NZE home, visit CMHC’s Net-Zero Energy Housing webpage.

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

Can you retrofit a building to the Passive House Standard?

Passive House retrofit is becoming a viable and increasingly common option in Europe, especially for low-rise apartment buildings. Canadian houses are generally built without good passive design characteristics:

  • They often have inefficient shapes (i.e. high area to volume ratios).
  • They’re generally not oriented towards the sun or they experience significant winter shading.
  • They may have a lot of north-facing glass as well as serious thermal bridges, and their interior layouts may be difficult to change.
  • Often a significant part of the value of the house may be invested in exterior brick or stonework, making re-insulation from the exterior non-viable.

So, although it can be possible to dramatically cut the energy consumption of a house or building, perhaps close to Passive House levels, it may not be cost-effective to do so, depending on the state, shape, size and age of the house.

For the EnerPHit Standard criteria, visit Passive House Canada.

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