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A step forward for energy efficiency in Bowen homes

As a renter, Dave Pollard says he was reluctant, skeptical even, about having an energy audit conducted on his house last winter.

As a renter, Dave Pollard says he was reluctant, skeptical even, about having an energy audit conducted on his house last winter. However, as a member of Bowen In Transition, he wanted to help out in the creation of the organization's “mini-energy audit” program. A year later, after having made a number of small changes, Pollard says he has cut his energy consumption by 30 percent ($130 per month). Also, Bowen In Transition now has three members who know how to conduct a basic energy audit (they learned from Cool North Shore, who initiated this project in several Greater Vancouver areas, and who have provided lots of resources and guidance), and a thermal imaging camera (generously purchased by the municipality and available for loan through the library) to do them with. Bowen In Transition wants individuals from across the island to open their homes to an audit, and lead their neighbours down the path of greater efficiency and cost savings. The "mini-audits" are free, and take about an hour to do.

“Not every house has the same opportunities to become more efficient,” says Pollard. “But MyHydro is currently running a challenge for people to cut their energy consumption by 10 percent, and if households can achieve that, then they will get $50. I don’t think it would be a stretch for most Bowen homes to do that. And when you see the savings every day, you really get motivated!"

Pollard says he dismissed some of the 18 recommendations made by the "auditors", such as getting a solar hot water heater or installing a heat pump as a part of his home’s furnace because as a renter these solutions don’t make sense from a cost perspective. Instead, doing things like turning ceiling fans on low in winter months, turning down the thermostat, replacing light bulbs with LEDs and closing off spaces not in use have made a big difference.

“Around the doors and windows in my house, the audit found places (mostly just inside windows, doors and skylights) with 5-degrees difference in interior temperature; some areas were as high as 9 degrees,” says Pollard. “If the insulation and weather stripping were perfect, that difference would be almost zero.”

Pollard says those are improvements he has not yet made, as he’ll have to hire someone to do them. Or, he may learn how to do this work himself — BIT is planning on offering DIY workshops to follow up after the audits.

He says getting people to engage their neighbours on this subject may facilitate those types of actions.

“Cool North Shore has had the problem of people saying YES to a free audit, but not taking the actions required to improve their homes afterwards,” says Pollard. “This year we would like to audit one group of homes in each of Bowen’s 26 neighbourhoods. If the neighbourhoods as a whole can be engaged on this, group purchases for needed materials can be made easier, as can hiring people or getting handy-people to help out.”

If you are interested in finding out where you’re losing heat and wasting energy in your home, contact BIT: Rod Marsh or Mat Hallam-Eames at (604)716-8890.