When you mention an ‘audit’ to Canadian taxpayers, there’s a good chance the associated thought will be a negative one. However, the federal and provincial governments are now trying to put a positive spin on another type of audit; that is, a Home Energy Audit.
A Home Energy Audit shows how your home uses energy and where it is being wasted. It identifies improvements you can make to your home’s heating, cooling, and hot water heating systems. It also pinpoints other inefficiencies that COULD result in hundreds of lost dollars each year.
Given that everyone wants to save money and that protection of the planet is at an all-time high, why would you not want to reduce your energy bills and help the environment at the same time?
A typical audit comprises of 3 things: 1. an assessment of your home’s insulation, heating and cooling systems, as well as other energy uses. 2. a depressurization test to identify leaks and drafts in your home. 3. an Energy Efficiency Evaluation Report.
The cost of the audit runs about $300 -500 and Ontarians can get up to $150 of the energy audit cost back from the provincial government. The actual testing of your home takes 2 to 3 hours.
Energy-saving upgrades identified by your Home Energy Audit may qualify you for rebates under the Home Energy Retrofit Program. You could receive up to a maximum of $10,000 from the Governments of Ontario and Canada when you complete improvements identified by your audit. In addition to receiving monies back for energy savings upgrades, some of your improvements may also qualify for additional savings through the Home Renovation Tax Credit.
Is there something wrong with this Home Energy Audit picture? When the Ontario government floated this idea, they wanted to make the audits mandatory through legislation labeled the ‘Green Energy Act’. Of course, making it mandatory would require that everyone go through the process at some point … and pay accordingly.
As it stands today, the government has decided the onus will fall on home sellers to initiate a home energy audit when they put their home on the market for sale. In other words, if this legislation is passed and you want to sell your home, you would need to have this audit completed – unless the buyers waive their right to have an audit done. Once again, the government mandates and the taxpayer pays!
You, like I, want to help the environment and, of course, we all want to reduce our energy bills so maybe we are okay with the mandatory energy test. However, I think that during the home sale process this audit, or lack thereof, could be yet another important variable in the marketability of your home, especially in a competitive market. Furthermore, the Home Energy Audit could become a bargaining chip during negotiations, or perhaps even a hindrance if you don’t have the report completed prior to listing.
I will discuss more of these issues in the next installment of my column. In the meantime, feel free to get internet links to the three government websites that outline home energy and renovation tax credits. Go to www.davidweir.com.