What’s your score? New interactive map ranks home energy scores – Saskatoon

As Saskatoon residents head into the fall and winter, the colder, darker days mean the furnace gets turned up higher and the lights get flicked on earlier. And that can mean higher utility bills for homeowners. In fact, since last September, Saskatchewan consumers are paying eight per cent more for their electricity, says SaskPower.

But the City of Saskatoon has hired OPEN Technologies to help better understand those ever-increasing power bills this fall by launching a new interactive Home Energy Map which will show consumers their baseline home energy score and help them prioritize home upgrades that will save them money.

The map is an online tool that will allow more than 69,000 households in Saskatoon to find their home’s energy score. The portal has already assigned estimated energy scores for all homes on the map.

Homeowners can claim their home and create a profile in the homeowner portal. By going into the portal and updating their profile with improvements made to their home in the past few years—such as a new furnace or added insulation—homeowners receive an updated energy score and a retrofit roadmap.

Story continues below advertisement

WATCH NOW: Utility scale solar farm proposed for Dundonald Avenue 

To create the map, OPEN Technologies used existing publicly available information on Saskatoon homes from tax assessment records (such as type of home, year built, etc.) along with aggregated publicly available information from homeowners who had undergone the EnerGuide for Homes  process, which provides homeowners with an official record of their home’s energy performance. It’s important to note that the map contains no personal homeowner data.

“At its most basic, the energy map is a tool for Saskatoon homeowners to figure out how much energy their homes are currently using and to learn ways to reduce energy use through retrofits. Users can also find out about grants they can access to help pay for some of these renovations,” says Donovan Woollard, chief executive officer of OPEN Technologies.

The site also contains a “homeowner portal” notes Woollard, which allows customers to “drill deeper into the tool to get more insights on how we calculated their score, and to update their score with energy saving upgrades they may have made.”

The core goal of the map is to educate and engage homeowners to start them on the right path toward deep energy retrofits, and to connect them with resources like the city’s energy coaching services to maintain their momentum and access further support and rebate information.  Encouraging residents to use these two programs is part of the city’s commitment to reduce residential emissions as part of the city’s Low Emissions Community Plan.

Story continues below advertisement

One of the perks of using the homeowner portal is the retrofit roadmap, which provides users with ideas for renovations that will ultimately make their home more energy efficient. This is where the city’s Energy Coaching program comes in. Residents can call or email an energy coach to talk through the renovation suggestions, learn about financing options, and prioritize upgrades based on the individual’s household budget. Examples include improvements to insulation, window and door replacement or air source heat pumps, which can reduce electric heating costs by up to 30 per cent.

“It gives the homeowner some options,” says Wendy Lalonde, an energy coach with Canadian energy experts Summerhill, who have been hired to facilitate this project.  “Maybe they don’t know which renovation to tackle first, for example, or maybe we help them plan the renovations over a few years or point them toward federal financing options like the Canada Greener Homes initiative. That’s where the energy coach can be helpful to have that conversation – that objective, unbiased person who can provide you some good advice.”

If renovations are financially out of reach, energy coaches can still provide assistance. “We also suggest how people could reduce their day-to-day energy consumption,” says Lalonde. Some easy changes, she says, include installing weather stripping around doors and windows, changing the furnace filter every three months, switching to LED lightbulbs and air-drying clothes.

“That’s such a key point,” says Shawn Silzer, senior director of communications for Summerhill. “The little things can add up. That’s really what the City of Saskatoon wants to emphasize with these tools. The little things are worthwhile.”

Story continues below advertisement

A greener home is a win-win as it will also cut down those utility bills, says Silzer. “Spending money on home renovations may seem counter intuitive as a way to save money, but the only way to counter rising energy prices is to find ways to reduce use of your furnace and air conditioning. In Saskatchewan, you can’t turn the furnace off in January, but you can make sure the heat you’re paying for isn’t leaking outside.”

Silzer also notes that the energy map and energy coach concept has been unveiled in very few jurisdictions in North America thus far. “Saskatoon is certainly at the leading edge of doing this in Canada.”

If you want to explore the Home Energy Map and learn more about free energy coach services, visit here: Saskatoon.ca/EnergyMap

Related Posts