Energy gobbler to become lean and green

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Retrofitting a two-bedroom, 1,200-square-foot house, basement included, will transform a 1946 East York structure from an energy gobbler to an energy generator.

The Now House, one of 12 winning CMHC EQuilibrium demonstration projects, will boast an energy rating of close to 100 after retrofitting, says Lorraine Gauthier, a principal of Work With Doing design studio and one of the all-volunteer team involved in the project.

Insulation and other energy conservation measures will bring the Topham Rd. house up to R84, Gauthier says.

Add solar power generation and solar thermal heating and that will bring it up to R94. She notes the homeowner spends about $1,300 a year to heat with natural gas.

Post-renovation, his annual bill will be less than $300 and the home will have better air quality. But even more important, Gauthier says the homeowner will be protected against future increases in energy costs.

In summer solar panels will produce electricity for the homeowner's own use with enough left over to feed into the hydro grid, for which he'll get credits, Gauthier says.

The Now House team chose a retrofit project in the CMHC competition, because Canada has more than 1 million similar postwar houses, all of them leaking energy.

"It's a target market. We don't need to build new subdivisions," Gauthier says.

"If we could reduce emissions by 6 tonnes a year for each house — from 9.7 tonnes to 3 tonnes – we'd contribute 3 per cent towards Kyoto targets."

Gauthier says the team had hoped to start work last fall, but they were unable to raise the $85,000 cost, not counting volunteer labour, which included all architectural work.

They now have the funds and once they get a minor variance from the city for a setback, they hope to finish the retrofit by Earth Day, April 22.

CMHC will monitor the energy performance of the house for a year.


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