Home energy assessment an incoming wave

Amerispec owner says a new focus on saving energy is increasing in importance

Amerispec’s Sean Swinwood performs home energy assessments in Cranbrook.

Amerispec’s Sean Swinwood performs home energy assessments in Cranbrook.

With a growing interest in energy efficiency among homeowners and builders, the area of energy assessment is just starting to take off.

Sean Swinwood, owner/operator of Amerispec of Southeast BC, sees the area of energy assessment as not only a growth industry, particularly with older homes and homeowners looking to renovate. But the time is coming soon when energy efficiency ratings could be written into provincial building codes.

Swinwood was a certified energy advisor, employed by Amerispec, until he took over the business in 2013.

“I’ve done hundreds of energy asssessments in the East Kootenay area,” Swinwood said. “I’ve helped homeowners receive provincial and federal rebates to help make their homes more energy efficient.”

Swinwood said the current program, which is in effect until March 31, 2015, is called the HERO program (Home Energy Rebate Offering), and is administered by BC Hydro and Fortis BC.

Following this program, Swinwood conducts a pre- and post-energy assessment (before renovations and after) of a particular property. At each stage, the property owner receives a rating, from one to 100, on an energy efficiency scale set by Natural Resources Canada.

“The energy assessment tells you two things,” Swinwood said, “where your home rates on the energuide scale, and a full report detailing how you can save energy.”

There are also rebates available from the HERO program depending on the upgrades that are made.

The aassessment also includes an air leakage test, which tells you how much heat you could be losing out of your “building envelope” in the winter. Discussions about insulation upgrades, space heating, and other energy savings strategies are also part of the assessment.

This information is a great value, Swinwood said, and of growing importance, especially as concerns the value it can add to your house.

“Knowing that information, the leakage, the rating on the scale, knowing how you can improve your rating, is very valuable information, especially when it comes to saving on your energy bills, and when it comes to to selling your house.”

And the building industry is only recently starting to come on-stream, Swinwood said.

“There will be new aspects of the B.C. Building Code that take energy ratings into account,” he said. “There may be a time in the near future where energy efficiency standards are made part of the building code.”

Amerispec also offered standard home inspection for potential purchasers of a property. And the company has a partner relationship with other companies and organizations, such as the Brick, Aeroplan and Habitat for Humanity.