In a small rural community in Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, Janice and Robert Sperry reminisce about the years spent raising their family in a century-old farmhouse. Photos of their first grandchild join the many others of their children, the walls of the house a quilt of memories. Two dogs bark outside near a vegetable garden.
It’s a home full of love, but not always of winter warmth. And the Sperrys have the high heating bills to prove it.
The house once belonged to Robert’s father, who ran a local bicycle shop. “My dad bought this place when it had no wiring, no plumbing, nothing. I remember telling him, you can’t just stay here and freeze to death!”
His father not only survived the house, he inspired his son to take over the homestead in the early 80s. It was a great place to raise children. “The kids used to toboggan on mattresses down the stairs. They’d come flying down, landing in the pillows at the bottom.”
While full of laughter, the house could be cold. Over the years Robert improved the electric and water supply systems and did some minor insulating. They were able to do some insulation work themselves, but health issues, costs and the busyness of family life – Robert, a Navy veteran, and Janice, an active home-keeper, were both Scout leaders and volunteers in their community – kept them from being able to make major changes.
“We knew we needed to do more,” Janice explains.
“In past winters, blankets on the bed were freezing to the wall if they touched because of poor insulation and moisture issues.”
“It cost a lot to stay warm. We had to use space heaters in some rooms because they were so cold and drafty.”
When the Sperrys learned about HomeWarming from a local contractor, they applied right away. Clean Foundation and Efficiency Nova Scotia work together to help income-qualified homeowners complete energy-saving home upgrades at no cost. The program is supported by Nova Scotia Power and the Government of Nova Scotia.
“The HomeWarming program surpassed our expectations with the quality and extent of the work provided. And it’s going to make a big difference in the bills.
The upgrades done to the Sperrys’ home – which include draft-proofing, installation of gyprock in place of old lathe and plaster, as well as insulation in the attic, basement, exposed floor and exterior walls – are expected to make their home nearly 60 percent more energy efficient. A well-insulated home is warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer. And more affordable in all seasons.
“We are already noticing a difference. Last summer, we ran three air conditioning units to try to keep the house comfortable. Now we are only running one, and less often!”
Zenon Pilipowicz was the Energy Advisor assigned to the Sperrys’ home. Snow was up above the windows when he arrived to do the energy audit, so he knew there were cold spots. But HomeWarming doesn’t just go in and plug up all the holes. “A home is a highly connected system of parts,” says Zenon. “When multiple upgrades are involved, we need to understand how each upgrade affects the home as a whole, so they don’t have negative effects on indoor air quality.” In the Sperrys’ home, indoor air quality issues due to moisture have been resolved because new dehumidifiers keep basement moisture levels low.
“I really enjoy meeting people like the Sperrys,” he adds, “and helping them with basic life necessities like a safe and comfortable home.”
For their part, the Sperrys were impressed with Zenon’s initial audit and the subsequent work done by Trinity, the sub-contractor hired to do the upgrades. “They were a wonderful group,” says Janice. “It was a beehive of different work crews. I just kept the dogs out of their way and made sure they had drinks.”
Both Robert and Janice look forward to feeling how the upgrades improve their home comfort over the cold winter months ahead. They also gained an improved understanding of how their home operates, and are better prepared to take on other home improvement projects.
“We’re continuing to do as much as we can,” says Robert, “I asked a lot of questions during the energy assessment and upgrade work, and have a lot of ideas of what can be done next. This is a really great program.”
Efficiency Nova Scotia offers low-income homeowners free energy efficiency improvements that can help them feel more comfortable while reducing heating and power bills. And these upgrades are provided at no-cost thanks to the generous support from the Province of Nova Scotia. Why? Because a house is a structure. A home is warm.Find out if you're eligible
You can speak confidentially with a Service Advisor about your eligibility by calling HomeWarming at 1-877-434-2136 (toll free) or by filling in the form below. Intake will be completed by Efficiency Nova Scotia to provide an easy process for all applicants.
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