The first step for anyone buying a new house is to insulate it and make it as energy-efficient as possible, before you choose solar or what have you. There are two non-profits that serve this part of the province and that do energy audits for the EnerGuide program:EnerGuide assessments are offered by the following organizations:Clean Nova Scotia126 Portland St.Dartmouth, NS420-3474Sustainable Housing#37 Dan Jordan Road,R.R. #3 Wolfville, NS 902-542-3518Sustainable Housing is an energy efficiency and education consulting company offering EnerGuide assessments throughout the province.
If your home is up to 2,500 ft, they will charge $150 to come in and do an energy audit, which involves doing a vacuum test to check its air-tightness. They will then suggest a numbers of ways to reduce your energy use, or to replace what youre using: insulation, fixing and improving windows, caulking, and so forth.
After you do all or some of the work suggested---or hire someone to do it for you---the EnerGuide consultants will come back and re-test your house. Depending on the improvements to your house, the provincial and federal governments will rebate some of your costs.
The rebate incentives include the usual replacing light bulbs and buying energy efficient appliances. There is a system called Energy Star, a joint program by the US Department of Energy and the US Environmental Protection Agency, which labels everyday appliances and electronics as energy efficient. Every appliance has to have an Energy Star rating, which explains how much energy everything from clothes driers to refrigerators to geothermal heat pumps use. Because we get many of these products from or through the US, we benefit from their rating system, too. You can look online to see how different appliances measure up. Start here: energystar.gov.
The EnerGuide process also rebates for solar, wind, etc., so you could do that work as part of the process, or you can do it outside of the EnerGuide process and still get other government rebates.
To figure this out and consider energy alternatives, check out solargain.ca. The Solar Gain Project is a joint Ecology Action Centre-federal government project to get people to start using solar energyfor water heaters and space heating, etc. Its the first place to go if youre thinking about solar--- theyll give an initial consultation, provide info about vendors and help you figure out what kind of government rebates are available.With notes from Tim Bousquet