For the past few years Nova Scotians have had access to Efficiency Nova Scotia, an organization specifically created to support Nova Scotians in their (our) quest for green living.
I'm not 100% sure on how it's funded, although I do know that until recently at least part of EfficiencyNS was funded by an extra cost tagged onto each and every one of our power bills. Almost like a carbon tax in a way- which I am completely cool with, since I know Nova Scotia has mostly coal based energy (boo). Recently the system has changed (bah politics) and I'm not certain how...
Part of the service Nova Scotians get for "free" is a visit from an Energy Efficiency professional. Actually, my parents got a visit from them over a year ago. When my own mother raved about how they changed all their lightbulbs to the "curly kind", wrapped her water heater and put a "use cold water" sticker reminder on her washer... I knew we had to follow suit.
Two months ago I called and finally today we had the visit, a full year after we moved into our new home. Although it was almost painful to wait this long with incandescent bulbs (seriously, who still buys those???), I'm glad we did. It allowed us time to tinker with heating, try all the things we know how so that we could really take advantage and ask the questions we just couldn't figure out.
I had three topics I wanted the guy to look at:
- Our drafty windows
- Our poor hot water heating system
- How long it takes to heat the kitchen
Cool parts of the visit? The Energy Efficient Professional or "EEP" we'll call him, totally replaced 32 of our light bulbs (all the bulbs that we hadn't already replaced) with LEDs. YES. He also fitted all our sinks with aerators (to add oxygen to the water and decrease actual water used) and replaced a shower head. He didn't wrap anything in the basement since our water is heated by a boiler, which he said was perfect as is and didn't need insulating.
His answers to my questions:
- Windows: According to EEP even uber "insulating" windows still aren't all that great at keeping the cold out. Even the best windows only have an "R" value of 4 or maybe 5, and ours likely are already a 3 (walls and insulation would be 20 ish). His suggestion- the gross plastic shrink wrap on all the windows. Sigh. Air is a great insulator, and the plastic wrap allows for a couple of inches of air between the room and the window. I'm considering it. He did say that our shutting our curtains at night, particularly the ones that are flush in the window sill, is a good strategy.
- Hot Water heating: It would appear that we actually have an energy efficient hot water boiler- it only keeps a small portion of water heated at all times. Along with the fact that the hot water needs to travel kinda far to get to our shower AND the fact that it doesn't have a vast reserve equals our lukewarm showers and baths. His best solution: finishing our basement. Hah! Someday when we grow money trees. No really. He did say there may be other electric hot water heating solutions, I just wish some of those nifty solar hot water heating systems were within our price range...
- Time to heat the kitchen: The kitchen area is large and we have lots of windows. The end.
So... other than a few other little tidbits here and there (placing child protector caps on electrical outlets to stop heat from escaping around the non insulated boxes, replacing the weather stripping around the doors, waiting to purchase a heat pump until price goes down), that pretty much is the extent of his visit.
Just the light bulbs totally makes the visit worth it.