Canada Greener Homes Grant, Edmonton’s forthcoming Clean Energy Improvement Program (CEIP), and the recent Home Energy Retrofit Accelerator (HERA) have selected EnerGuide evaluations conducted by Certified Energy Advisors (EAs) as the means to initiate and measure residential energy efficiency retrofits. While this evaluation process is proven and widely used in Canada, some barriers impact its emissions reduction effectiveness in Edmonton. Specifically, a limited number of EAs regionally limit capacity to meet the increased local demand for evaluations, and the EnerGuide process focuses solely on reducing energy consumption rather than emissions.
The scale of the current demand for these programs will outpace the EA industry’s ability to deliver the required evaluations. With NRCan projecting the need for energy evaluations to increase across Canada and the launch of Edmonton’s CEIP and HERA program offerings, the higher demand for evaluations paired with a limited number of local EAs may lead to delays in assessments. Because the energy assessment is typically the first step for a homeowner to gather information for the retrofit, a delay in receiving an energy assessment may slow the retrofit decision-making process. As well, an initial energy evaluation typically has an upfront cost for homeowners who may be reluctant to take on this cost without some reassurance of their eligibility for rebate programs or knowledge of the available home improvement options and resulting potential benefits.
Even when the energy assessment process runs smoothly, the results obtained focus on retrofit measures for reducing energy consumption. They do not directly address housing affordability or greenhouse gas reductions. Retrofits and energy consumption need to be addressed and implemented with an affordability lens, considering both capital and operational costs. Some retrofits could lead homeowners to believe that reduced energy consumption will reduce GHG emissions and operating costs. In reality, they achieve neither goal due to differences in cost and emission intensity in electricity and other fuels. The energy assessment results also do not thoroughly acknowledge emissions associated with electrical energy use. They also lack a deeper analysis of GHG emissions, such as hourly and marginal emissions considerations, which can strongly impact emissions.
The project will develop, deploy, and demonstrate a toolset meant to engage and educate homeowners about home energy retrofits and facilitate their eventual interaction with EAs. It will tackle the combined problems of (i) a lack of local EAs to meet the demand for energy evaluations in the Edmonton area and (ii) the lack of an hourly, regional emissions evaluation within the EnerGuide process and the resultant retrofits that EAs highlight to homeowners. The project will address these problems by providing homeowners with access to a preliminary, survey-based 'mini' energy audit that asks them to answer questions about the features of their home. The toolset will analyze those inputs and recommend potential, tailored energy efficiency measures to the homeowner. The results also include insights into the total cost of ownership for each retrofit package which addresses a stated homeowner need. Finally, the toolset identifies pathways for the homeowners to connect with an EA and move forward with an energy assessment and retrofit incentive programs. Importantly for the City of Edmonton's climate change plan, the tool will present homeowners (and later, EAs) with information that helps educate and guide them to make retrofit decisions that tackle affordability, program accessibility, and effective emissions reductions
Key project stakeholders
- Homeowners and community groups
- Energy Advisors and Service Organizations
- Municipal policymakers and program managers
- Energy service companies
The Mini Energy Audit and Collaboration Tool for Affordable Deep Emissions Reductions on Residential Homes project is made possible by a financial contribution from Alberta Ecotrust.