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Putting a stop to sneaky leaks

You could spend thousands updating and redecorating your home. But what about making it more comfortable and energy efficient?

Knowing they will continue to live in their Kelowna home for many years to come, Todd and Sharon decided to get the most out of their energy efficiency investments. So they signed up for the Okanagan Energy Diet.

The program offered them a discounted energy assessment, energy saving products installed directly in their home, hands-on help applying for up to $6,000 in available rebates and financing options to make the improvements.

“Most of our home was built in 1967, with a large scale addition completed in 1993,” said Todd. “We used a combination of heating systems in the house and even though we have a very efficient heat pump, the living room still felt drafty on windy nights. We wanted to put an end to that.”

Soon after Todd and Sharon registered for the Energy Diet, Barry Vanhouse, a certified energy advisor, arrived to inspect their home. As part of the Energy Diet program, the home energy assessments were subsidized by FortisBC and the City of Kelowna.

Vanhouse systematically worked his way through the home from the attic to the crawl space, measuring for energy performance. He encouraged Todd and Sharon to come along with him for the assessment.

“I like to engage the homeowner and keep them close so I can explain things to them as we go,” said Vanhouse.

Using a blower door test—a variable speed fan that fits into any exterior door opening—to measure a home’s rate of air leakage, Vanhouse reported a couple of areas that could be improved.

“The access to the crawl space was fairly drafty and should be treated like an exterior door,” said Vanhouse. “And then the attic access is pretty much the same.” He recommended making improvements to these areas to reduce the drafts and save on heating bills.

While Todd realized the crawl space needed some work, he learnt that filling in cracks and crevices with spray foam insulation and insulating small areas in the crawl space could be more beneficial than even replacing his old front door or the big picture window.

Energy Diet participants were also provided with energy saving products that could be easily installed. These included low flow showerheads, insulation for hot water piping, a kitchen tap aerator, CFL light bulbs and foam gaskets that fit behind electrical outlets on exterior walls to reduce drafts.

Todd got started right away on the improvements. “We’d always switch to CFLs as old lightbulbs burnt out,” he said. “Although what I learned today is that I need to start insulating the drafty parts of my house, even the outlets.”

With the assessment complete, the Todd and Sharon now have a plan for future upgrades that will help make their home more comfortable and less drafty.

And how does Todd feel about the overall energy assessment? “It was very simple - helpful from start to finish and I learned a lot along the way.”