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Scott BennettAs published by the Brooklin Town Crier - November 20, 2009

by Scott Bennett

Fiona and Andy Wilson have lived in Brooklin for 10 years. They have two young boys and think it's important to go green. So, when they were looking to replace their hot water tank, they wanted a greener option. There are two main types of products to reduce your water heater energy consumption: an on-demand water heater (also called instant hot water) and a solar water heater. Due to the direction of the roof on their home, solar was not an option, so they decided to move to an on-demand water heater. This type of water heater burns 30% less fuel than a traditional hot water tank by super heating the water as it runs though the unit, providing hot water for the whole home only when it's needed (a traditional water heater keeps the tank of water hot all the time). On-demand water heater technology has been used for decades in Europe and is now catching on in North America.

Fiona Wilson with On Demand Water HeaterBefore the Wilsons started the project, they did some homework and found they could qualify for government incentive rebates for upgrading to an on-demand water heater. The ecoENERGY program provides grants for homeowners to increase the energy efficiency in their home. For this type of water heater, it's a $700 grant. In order to qualify for the grant, a certified energy auditor must first measure the energy efficiency of your home and then return after the upgrades are completed to document the results for the grant program. The Wilsons contacted Steve from Steven Pugh Home Inspection Services to handle their energy audit. Steve is a Certified Energy Auditor from Brooklin. When he met with the Wilsons to discuss the water heater upgrade, he also asked if they had any cold spots in their home. As it turns out, one of their bedrooms was cool in the winter.

As part of the energy audit, Steve propped open the front door and inserted a door blower in the door frame. It's like a tarp stretched across the door with a large fan mounted in it. The door blower was then turned on to suck the air out of the house. "The door blower simulates 56 km winds hitting the house from all sides," says Steve. With a smoke pencil in hand, he then sought out where air is leaking into the house, which demonstrates where heat is lost in the winter. Steve quickly discovered that the window in the bedroom was letting in a great deal of air as it was not properly insulated and sealed. He also found there was a one inch hole in the wall next to the patio door which had been covered up by trim.

After the energy audit, the Wilsons had their water heater upgraded. Andy also took on fixing the insulation and sealing problems around the window and door. The Wilsons are happy with their new water heater and warmer home. Their act of going green is not only saving them money on their hot water heating, it's also saving them on their home heating too. They were impressed with Steve's services. "He was really good at explaining things and gave practical advice," says Fiona.

I had a chance to sit and talk with Steve about his business. His advice for making your home more energy efficient depends on the age of your home. He suggests that for homes built before 1990, there's a lot more opportunity than in newer homes. But even for a new home, insulating the basement walls can increase energy efficiency and may qualify for up to $1,200 in grants. And, if you decide to get rid of a rental hot water tank like the Wilsons did, you can make your home greener and more energy efficient.

I congratulate Fiona and Andy Wilson on taking steps to green their home. I also think it's great to see a Brooklin green business like Steven Pugh Home Inspection Services helping people to increase their home's energy efficiency. If you're interested in a home energy audit, Steve can be reached at 905-655-4494, or you can visit www.sphomeinspection.ca.

For more ideas on how to go green, see our green tips for heating and cooling.