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Whether building a new home, buying an older one or just renovating your current abode, performing an energy audit is one way to get ideas on how to lower your overall energy consumption and reduce your power bill. And investing in renovations to make you

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Whether building a new home, buying an older one or just renovating your current abode, performing an energy audit is one way to get ideas on how to lower your overall energy consumption and reduce your power bill. And investing in renovations to make your home more energy efficient off the top means you’ll use less energy to heat your home, saving money in the long term while keeping the environment in mind.

Energuide
EnerGuide is a federally instituted program labeling energy efficiency for homes, appliances and vehicles. It also sets the standards for home evaluations to ensure the auditors have proper credentials. EnerGuide was also the name given to a recent federal rebate program which was quite successful in enhancing energy efficiency in home across the country. Though the federal program expired on March 31---the budget and election may still change everything---it may yet be worth getting the audit since the province is offering other rebates to those who’ve had it done. An EnerGuide certified auditor will also be able to recommend the best appliances and home improvement techniques.

To get a federally certified EnerGuide auditor, Nova Scotians can order one from several different organizations including Clean Nova Scotia (126 Portland Street, Dartmouth, 420-3474) and Sustainable Housing (18 Elm Avenue, Wolfville,542-3518).

The cost of home evaluations is generally $150 if a home is less than 3,500 square feet (of heated area, including basements and crawlspaces). If your home is over 3,500, there is an additional cost of $5 per 100 square feet.

When an energy auditor comes to your home they will check for insulation, Energy Star appliances, and airtightness. They will make some suggestions, including installing new windows, switching to energy efficient light bulbs, re-caulking the seals, installing more insulation and other ways to retro-fit your home.

Once the enhancements have been made, either by yourself or a contractor, an auditor will do a follow-up audit to determine the progress up to 18 months after the initial audit. Their conclusions on the home improvement will help the homeowner apply for other provincial rebates.

The Rebates
If you decide to conduct an audit and make less than $25,000 a year, or if you and your partner make less than $40,000 a year, you can apply through the provincial government to be reimbursed for a portion of renovation expenses (conservens.ca/energuide/low-to-modes). You’ll get your $150 back once the application is processed. You can also apply for a $400 grant from the NS government if you are within the same wage bracket.

Cash to get you started
Nova Scotians participating in the EnerGuide for homes audits can apply for a $5,000 interest-free loan from the provincial government (conservens.ca/heat-smart-zero-interest.asp). The loan has to be used for upgrading your energy efficiency and can be repaid over five years. You can also apply for this loan without the EnerGuide certified audit, but you need proof that you are retrofitting your home for energy efficiency.

Conserve Nova Scotia Rebates
If you installed a solar hot water system before May 10, 2010 you can apply for a rebate of 15 percent for the cost, up to $20,000. If you installed it after May 10, your rebate drops to $500 for a solar air heating system and $1,250 for a solar water heating system.

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