Home renovation tips to help you save on heating, water costs

Image of BC Hydro representative BJ Mayer
Community Outreach representative BJ Mayer recommends focusing on upgrades to your insulation to maximize energy savings potential.

Start by evaluating which renovations fit your home's needs

Posted by BJ Mayer

Fall has arrived and the temperatures are dropping. It's a good time of year to consider upgrading your home's overall efficiency to guard against the drafty weather to come.

And if renovations are on your to-do list this year, consider how to add increased energy efficiency into your renovation goals. Whether you have projects in mind or haven't considered renovations yet, take the time to assess your home's current state.

Take a quick walk through your house and check the following:

  • Is your house drafty? Check especially near exterior doors and windows.
  • Are your walls cold to the touch?
  • Is there condensation on your windows?
  • Was your home built before 1985? This is especially important if you haven't already undergone significant renovations.

If you answered yes to any of the questions, it's possible that your home could use an energy efficiency upgrade, which will help cut your overall energy costs.

If the main concern is stopping drafts and lowering heating costs, insulation upgrades or draftproofing might be a good place to start.

Upgrade insulation in key areas

Upgrading the insulation in your home can be a cost-effective, energy-efficient measure to save on your energy bill. On average, 50 per cent of the energy used in a home is for space heating or cooling.

When making insulation upgrades, remember:

  • The attic is the most cost effective place to add insulation. A well-insulated attic can reduce year-round heating or cooling use by 20 to 60 per cent. Basements are another great place to consider insulation upgrades, especially if you're not prepared to redo your entire home.
  • Proper installation is extremely important. Leaving spaces around the insulation, allowing air movement and compressing the insulation can all reduce its effectiveness.
  • R-values measure the effectiveness of insulation. The greater the R-value, the more effective the insulation will be. The recommended R-values for your space will depend on where you live. Learn more about recommended R-values for your area [PDF, 297 KB]
  • A home energy advisor can also recommend insulation that will work best in your home. Not only will insulation keep your home warm in the winter, it will also keep it cool in the summer.

Small upgrades can still make a big difference

For those on a budget, small upgrades can still make a big difference. To see how much heat is lost throughout your home, walk around with a candle that you've just blown out (or smoking incense stick) and see where the smoke naturally flows. This will help identify air leaks where heat is being lost.

Once you've identified air leaks, you can use products readily available at local hardware stores to help block drafts and improve your home's efficiency, such as:

  • Draftproofing gaskets for outlets
  • Caulking that's easy to apply yourself
  • Weatherstripping for doors and windows

Learn more about draftproofing your home

Home Energy Rebate Offer serves up incentives for insulation, windows, heating systems and more

If you're planning larger renovations such as installing insulation, or need to purchase a new heating system, be sure to check out the Home Energy Rebate Offer.

The program is a partnership between BC Hydro and FortisBC and offers more than $6,000 in incentives for energy efficiency renovations and upgrades, depending on the upgrades that you're completing:

  • Renovating your basement or attic?
    • Up to $3,250 available for insulation upgrades
  • Upgrading your bathroom?
    • $25 rebate available for an ENERGY STAR® bathroom fan.
  • Upgrading your heating or hot water system?
    • $800 for a ductless air source heat pump (for electrically heated homes).
    • $300 for EnerChoice Fireplace (Through FortisBC)
    • Up to $1,000 for an ENERGY STAR water heater. (Through FortisBC)
  • Replacing your windows or doors?
    • Up to $500 for Draftproofing
  • Completing several upgrades?
    • A $750 Bonus Offer is available for installing three or more of: ENERGY STAR windows, a high-efficiency heating system, insulation, draftproofing, and a high efficiency water heating system.

Rebates are available to residential customers in qualifying home types. Learn more about the eligibility requirements and how to apply for rebates.

BJ Mayer is a Community Outreach Retail Representative who works with retail partners to educate staff on Power Smart programs and energy efficient products in stores.