How do you know how energy efficient a home is?
Whether you’re considering a new home or a resale home, energy efficiency should play an important role in your buying decision. But how do you know how energy efficient a home is? While many features of a home are easy to see, like hardwood floors and granite countertops, energy efficient features like insulation in the walls and air sealing are not so easy to see. That’s where a home’s energy rating comes into play.
Understanding home energy ratings.
A home energy rating is a home’s overall energy efficiency when compared to a code reference home. An “extremely poor” rating represents a home with major air leakage, no insulation and extremely high energy consumption. An “excellent” rating represents a house that is airtight, well insulated, sufficiently ventilated and incorporates high efficiency equipment. The better the energy rating, the more energy efficient the home is.
Whichever rating system is used, your home is usually benchmarked to the current building code. For example, an EnerGuide Rating of 75 is excellent, as a new home in Ontario is built to an EnerGuide 80, as this scale goes to 100 for the best house. With a HERS Rating, a lower number is better, just like when you’re playing a round of golf. If code is par, then a new house is HERS 60.
In addition to EnerGuide, there are also many other recognized energy efficiency labels in Canada. The Savings by Design program is label-neutral, so you can choose any label you wish. However, a Savings by Design home is built to achieve 25% better energy performance than the 2012 Ontario Building Code (OBC), which exceeds most labels.
Be sure to ask what the home energy rating is for any new home you're considering, or check the utility room to see if a sticker or certification has been placed.