The Prescriptive Path Technical Standard

How to build an energy efficient home under the Prescriptive Path

If you’re new to the New Homes Program, the simplest way to get started is with the Prescriptive Path. To participate in the Prescriptive Path, include 10 mandatory energy saving upgrades in the design of your new home to receive a $1,200 rebate from Efficiency Manitoba.

How to apply

We make applying for the Prescriptive Path rebate easy. Simply incorporate the elements from the Prescriptive Path Technical Standard into the design drawings for your new home. Before construction starts, apply for approval by sending your design drawings along with an application form to Efficiency Manitoba.

It’s very important that the 10 required upgrades are clearly incorporated into your design drawings. You can read more about what specific upgrades are required in the list below.

The Prescriptive Path Technical Standard: 10 Energy Efficient Upgrades

In this section we’ll run through the 10 mandatory Prescriptive Path upgrades and give you examples of common assemblies or approaches accepted by the New Homes Program.

Important Note: Consistent with the Building Code, R-values are effective, not nominal values. Effective R values represent the actual thermal resistance of an assembly, including all materials, and taking into account any thermal bridges which impact the performance of the assembly.

1. Attic insulation of R-58 effective

We accept any building code compliant approach to achieving R-58 effective attic insulation.

2. Exterior above grade wall insulation of R-17 effective

We accept any building code compliant approach to achieving an R-17 effective wall assembly, including 2×4 and 2×6 wall assemblies.

Accepted examples of assemblies:

  • 2×6 @ 24” o/c with R-22 batt
  • 2×6 @ 16” o/c with R-24 batt
  • 2×4 @ 24” o/c with R-12 batt and 1.5” XPS on exterior
  • 2×4 @ 16” o/c with R-12 batt and 2” EPS on exterior
  • ICF (insulated concrete form) walls; minimum 4” EPS or XPS
  • SIPs (structurally insulated panels)  with 4” EPS Type 2 core

If you’re unsure if your proposed assembly will meet our requirements, we suggest using an effective R-value calculator.

Here are some helpful resources:

3. Basement insulation of R-18 effective

Similar to above-grade walls, we accept any building code compliant approach to achieving an R-18 effective basement wall assembly.

Slab on grade systems will be reviewed for insulation detailing.

Concrete floors with radiant in-floor heat require a minimum sub slab insulation of R-19 effective.

4. Header (rim joist) insulation of R-18 effective

This is commonly achieved through the application of spray foam in the headers, foam and/or batts, or a combination of interior and exterior insulation. When you’re using only spray foam, it must be applied at least 3.5 inches in thickness.

5. Triple pane low-e argon windows with low conductivity frame and warm edge spacers

  • Window inserts in a door are not included in the window requirement.
  • Patio doors are treated as large windows, so the triple pane requirement applies.
  • Basement windows under 6 ft2 are acceptable as dual pane low-e argon.

6. High efficient heat recovery ventilation (HRV) rated SRE 65% or better at -25°C.

Before ordering your equipment, remember to verify the manufacturer’s literature states an efficiency of SRE 65 % at −25°C.

7. HRV advanced controls

HRV controls integrated into smart thermostats are eligible if shown to be operating the HRV at the time of the completion evaluation. Controls should have the ability to operate the HRV in standby mode (no low speed fan) or intermittent operation (20 minutes per hour) and still run if required by the dehumidistat or the bathroom controls.

8. LED lighting throughout

All common use areas including the kitchen, living room, entryway, main hall, bathrooms, and exterior locations must use  LED lighting. LED lighting replacing the equivalent of 25 non-LED sockets is also acceptable.

9. Tested air tightness of less than 1.5 air changes per hour (ACH) at 50 Pascal pressure

We provide a third party air tightness test at the completion of your project.

If this is your first application, we recommend you also request an air tightness test at the pre-drywall stage to identify any potential problems before drywall is installed.

For tips on how to prevent air leakage, check out the Canadian Home Builders’ Association website or Natural Resources Canada website.

10. A minimum of two (2) upgrades from the following list:

  • Attic hatch gaskets and anchors (interior)
  • Exterior insulation at rim joist
  • Thermally broken door sills
  • Orientation optimized low-e window coatings
  • Slab edge thermal break: minimum 1″ rigid insulation between footing and slab or 2′ wide ‘skirt’ over footing, detailed in drawings.
  • Solar ready design (solar-ready trusses and wiring chase)

When filling out the Prescriptive Path application, please indicate which upgrades you’re undertaking.

For more information, please contact us.

All About Energy Modelling

All About Energy Modelling

Design and construction practices are moving in the direction of performance-based standards. If you’re building a new home or a new commercial building, investing in energy modelling is a great way to get on board.

What is Energy Modelling?

Energy modelling is a process used to estimate the energy consumption of a building, typically on an annual basis. Information about climate, orientation, design geometry, building materials, and mechanical and electrical systems is collected. All this data is then entered into a software program to determine the overall energy use of the building’s design.

The information can then be used to compare a proposed building to a similar existing building, a specified energy target or building code requirement, and/or to assign a performance rating.

Energy modelling is typically carried out by design team members who use the modelling results to provide advice and consultation to building owners, project teams, and individuals.

Why do Energy Modelling?

Cost-benefit Analysis Tool

Energy modelling allows you to determine the impact on the building early in the design process so you can select the materials, technologies, and processes that will bring the most value to your project. There are many variables like design geometry, solar orientation, mechanical systems, and more that can be adjusted in the context of energy costs to determine the best fit with your specific objectives and budget.

Meet Targets or Achieve Compliance

Energy modelling can also be used to help meet other objectives like determining eligibility for rebate or certificate programs or demonstrating compliance with performance-based building codes.

Reduce Costs

Not only does using energy modelling early in the design process help you identify ways to save energy, but it also helps you save money and reduce the need for costly modifications and changes down the road.

Energy Modelling is the Future

Modern building codes and construction practices are already moving in the direction of performance-based standards. In the future, it’s expected that energy modelling will be a necessary part of the integrated design process.

How to Get Started?

Efficiency Manitoba offers rebates for the costs of hiring an energy modeller if you are:

Energy Modelling for New Homes

Efficiency Manitoba’s New Homes Program offers rebates for the cost of hiring an energy modeller when designing your new home.

Find out more about residential energy modelling when designing new homes here.

Advice for Hiring a Contractor

Advice for Hiring a Contractor

Are you ready to get started on that home project you’ve been thinking about? If you’re ready to go, the first step to the project is hiring a contractor. Finding the right contractor for your energy efficiency project is important and helps to ensure your project moves smoothly and in the right direction.

There are many ways you can find a local contractor. You can ask friends and family for their recommendations, do an online search for contractors (look for great reviews), or visit Better Business Bureau listings online. If you choose to go the referral route, make sure to ask your friends and family if the contractor lived up to their expectations, if they delivered what they agreed to, and if they had any issues during the project.

Contractor Estimates

Before you go-ahead with a contractor, we recommend talking to and getting quotes from at least three contractors. When you’re requesting an estimate, each one should include:

  • cost of labour, equipment, and materials (names, models, size, etc.);
  • total cost, including taxes and permit fees;
  • expected payment schedule;
  • estimated work start and completion dates;
  • a statement that the contractor carries liability insurance and Workers Compensation coverage;
  • warranties or guarantees;
  • what contractor cleanup during the work and on completion;
  • homeowner vs. contractor responsibilities;
  • a statement that the contractor will instruct the homeowner on the operation and maintenance of any equipment and provide any required operation manuals.

Questions to ask Contractors

On top of asking for a quote, you may also want to ask them some questions about their business, including:

  • What form of agreement do you require before undertaking work in a home?
  • Do you carry property damage and public liability insurance?
  • How many projects similar to this have you completed?
  • What are the names and phone numbers of two customers you have done work for in the last year whom I could call as references?
  • Are you and your staff members of a trade association or organization?
  • Aside from yourself, who will do the work (ie. employees, sub-trades)?

Get a Written Contract

Once you have chosen a contractor to work with, be sure to ask for a written contract. Do not sign an incomplete contract or make a verbal agreement with the contractor. A written contract is what helps resolve disputes if the work is unsatisfactory.

Before you sign the contract:

  • Read it carefully to make sure all the details in the estimate have been included.
  • Review the fine print and terms and conditions.
  • Be sure that both you and the contractor initial any changes to the work or standard conditions in the contract.

To participate in many of our programs, customers need to apply through a contractor or retailer that has registered with Efficiency Manitoba. Your chosen professional will fill out an application form with you or on your behalf and you will need to sign the application form accepting the terms and conditions of the program.  Be sure to keep a copy of this application form (electronic or printed) for your records. Note, most programs require that you and your contractor complete an application form and submit it to Efficiency Manitoba for approval prior to starting any work or purchasing materials.

If your chosen contractor or retailer is not registered with us, they can easily do so by visiting the Supplier Registration Page. It’s important to note, we cannot provide a list of registered suppliers nor does Efficiency Manitoba endorse any specific service professionals.

Small Business Program

Small Business, Big Savings

If you’re a small business owner, you know that time and money are precious resources. Between managing day-to-day tasks, taking care of your customers, and keeping a close eye on your profits and expenses, energy efficiency might be the last thing on your mind.

We’re here to help you with that.

Our Small Business Program is a full-service solution that helps your business become more energy efficient. Not only will we install free basic energy-saving products, but we’ll also do a free assessment of your business to see if you could benefit from a premium lighting upgrade.

We offer two levels of energy-efficient upgrades so you can pick the one that’s right for you:

BASIC UPGRADE

FREE

  • FREE A-line LED bulbs to help you save instantly on your energy bill.
  • FREE faucet aerators and pre-rinse spray valves to help you save instantly on your water and energy bills.
  • FREE installation.
  • FREE lighting assessment to find out how you can save more.

PREMIUM UPGRADE

WE
COVER
70%

  • Includes all Basic Upgrades.
  • Enhance your space and save even more on your energy bill by upgrading to
    • LED linear lamps;
    • T8 ballasts;
    • specialty LED bulbs;
    • LED exit signs; and
    • lighting controls.
  • We cover 70% of all material and installation costs.

Beyond the Energy Savings

Energy savings aren’t the only benefit you’ll see from participating in the Small Business Program. Improved lighting in your business leads to a more comfortable and productive space for you to work in, and enhances the experience for your valued customers. You’ll also save time and money since your new lighting system will require less maintenance.

Taking Part is Easy

We know that your to-do list is long, so we’ll handle almost everything for you. All you have to do is get in touch; we’ll guide you through the process and take care of the rest. That means more time in your schedule and more money in your bank account.

High Performance Windows

Improve Your Home’s Efficiency with High-Performance Windows

How old are your windows? Older windows are often poorly insulated and not airtight, so they let in heat during the summer and cold in during the winter. This makes your home less comfortable, forces your heating and cooling systems to work harder, and causes your monthly energy bills go up.

High-performance windows can prevent drafts from leaking into your home – and stop money from slipping through your fingers.

Benefits of High-Performance Windows

Energy Savings

Multiple panes of glass, low-e coatings, and high-quality weatherstripping make high-performance windows energy efficient, which translates to energy savings for you.

Comfort

With reduced air leakage and glass with improved insulation, your home will feel more comfortable than ever.

Reduced Condensation

Condensation forms when warm, humid air contacts a cold surface. We usually see condensation on windows when the temperature drops because they tend to be the coldest indoor surfaces. High-performance windows allow for a comfortable level of humidity in your home without creating condensation.

Noise Reduction

The additional panes of glass and increased airtightness create a buffer from outside noise, making your home more peaceful.

What to Look For

Make sure you check the following properties before you invest in high-performance windows:

Ventilation

Windows fall into two broad categories: fixed and operable. Fixed windows are less expensive and more airtight since there are no moving parts. Operable windows, on the other hand, provide ventilation and are available in sliding, casement, awning, and tilt and turn styles.

Triple Pane Glazing

Windows with three panes of glass (or triple pane glazing) have greater insulation properties than single or dual pane windows. They are the most common type of energy-efficient windows available today.

Low-Emissivity (Low-e) Coating

A low-e coating is an invisible metallic coating that’s applied to the glass. There are different types of low-e coating, each with specific properties. Some keep heat inside during the heating season, some reduce heat from the summer sun, and some help block harmful UV rays. A knowledgeable sales representative can help you choose the best coating for your needs.

Insulating Spacers

Insulating spacers, also known as “warm edge” spacers, provide a thermal break between the window panes to keep the edges of the glass warmer. This reduces condensation around the edges of your windows.

Argon Gas Fill

To reduce heat loss, consider argon gas fill. Argon is an inert gas that acts as insulation between the panes of your window.

Low U-Value

The rate of heat loss is determined by the U-value of a window. You want to look for windows with a low U-value because they have better insulating properties.

High Energy Rating (ER)

Look for windows with a high Energy Rating (or ER). A window’s ER combines the U-value, air leakage, and solar heat gain into a single number for an overall rating.

ENERGY STAR®

When you’re shopping, look for ENERGY STAR® certified windows. They’ve been tested to meet strict requirements for energy performance, they’re specifically designed for harsh climates, and they’re suitable for homes in Manitoba. Windows with the ENERGY STAR® Most Efficient designation provide the best energy performance.

Maximize the Efficiency of your Existing Windows

If you’re not ready to upgrade to high-performance windows just yet, there are steps you can take to make your existing windows as energy efficient as possible:

  • Reduce air leakage by caulking gaps between the trim and wall, and between the trim and window frame.
  • Install or replace old or damaged weatherstripping on operable windows.
  • Pick up a window insulating film kit. Sealing your windows with plastic film provides an additional barrier to reduce drafts.
  • Use storm windows. They create an insulated air space that reduces condensation and heat loss/gain, and they can prolong the life of your interior windows.

Talk to a Contractor

Before you start shopping for high-performance windows, it might be worth speaking with an expert who can point you in the right direction and help you make sure you’re purchasing the right windows for your home.

We recommend getting quotes from at least three different contractors and choosing one that provides the best value (rather than the lowest price). Learn more about hiring a contractor.

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Ground Source Heat Pumps

Whether you are constructing a new building or replacing an existing heating and cooling system, consider a ground source heat pump—one of the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly electric heating and cooling systems available.

Ground source heat pumps are not only environmentally friendly, they can also cut heating costs by around 50–70 percent when compared to a regular electric heating system. The reason ground source heat pumps (sometimes known as a geothermal heat pump) are so efficient is because they move existing heat in or out of the ground instead of creating heat by burning fossil fuels or powering an electric element.

How does a ground source heat pump work?

An electric pump circulates a heat transfer fluid through a loop of pipes which are typically buried underground. In heating mode, the fluid in the loop absorbs heat from the earth, which stays at a stable temperature regardless of the temperature above ground. The heat in the fluid then passes through a heat exchanger into the heat pump where it is extracted and delivered to either a fan coil or a radiator system located in the building. This process reverses when the system operates in cooling mode and heat from the building is rejected back into the ground.

The ability of the ground loop to absorb heat from the earth and then transfer it to the building is a key component in the effectiveness of ground source heat pump systems. The length of the ground loop depends on the size of the space you are heating and the amount of heat you need. Longer loops can draw more heat from the ground, but need more space to be buried in. If space is limited, vertical boreholes can be drilled instead.

Which ground loop configurations best suits your building?

Ground source heat pump systems use four basic ground loop configurations to turn your property into a source of energy. Which design best suits your situation depends on:

  • Ground conditions
  • Availability and quality of groundwater
  • Size of property
  • Size of building you are trying to heat

Here are the basic loop configurations:

Vertical Closed Loops

Vertical closed loops are ideal where land is limited. It’s the most popular loop configuration for commercial applications.

Some technical details:

  • Ground temperatures are more constant at a depth of 20 feet or deeper, which means vertical loops require less piping than horizontal loops.
  • In Manitoba, vertical loops are normally installed in boreholes measuring 50 to 300 feet deep and 10 to 20 feet apart.
  • A pair of pipes with a U-bend assembly is inserted into each borehole.
Vertical closed loop diagram.

Horizontal Closed Loops

Horizontal closed loops are installed where soils can be easily excavated. They are generally not used for larger commercial applications and since they take up more land area, they’re typically used in rural areas where space permits.

Some technical details:

  • The pipe is buried in a trench, usually six to ten feet deep in one continuous loop or a series of parallel loops.
  • Horizontal loops are not recommended in dry sands and gravel.
  • They can work in moist clay and wet sand.
  • The deeper the loop is buried, the more heat there is to harvest.
Horizontal closed loops diagram.

Well-to-Well or Open Loops

Well-to-well or open loop systems extract heat directly from well water. Well water is pumped to the heat pump system from a supply well and is then returned to a second well or “return well”. All open loop systems require a Water Rights Licence through Manitoba Water Stewardship.

Some technical details:

  • Typically, the entering water temperature of an open loop system is approximately 6 ̊C higher than a closed loop system, which can lead to improved system efficiency.
  • Water sources with high levels of salt, chlorides or other minerals are not recommended as they can cause premature system failure or inefficient operation. Regular cleaning and maintenance would be required.
  • Installations which require deep supply wells may require larger pumps which would increase the initial cost of the system.
Well-to-well or open loops diagram.

Lake or Pond Closed Loops

Lake or pond closed loops are used if a pond or lake is nearby and the loop field can be submerged in water. Before installing this loop type, check with local authorities to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.

Some technical details:

  • The loop field must be properly anchored to remain on the bottom of the body of water.
  • It must be submerged deep enough underwater and must be protected at the shoreline to avoid being dragged.
Lake or pond closed loops diagram.

Next Steps

Once you have decided to upgrade your heating system, we recommend getting several quotes from various contractors. Once you’ve selected an installer, make sure they obtain all the necessary approvals, water rights licenses, and permits.

To qualify for incentives from Efficiency Manitoba, your project must be pre-approved before work begins and the installation must be done by an accredited Manitoba Geothermal Energy Alliance (MGEA) installer. Since it is both costly and difficult to alter the loop once it has been installed, it’s crucial all of the equipment is properly sized to maximize system performance.

Energy Efficient Doors

IMPROVE YOUR HOME COMFORT WITH ENERGY-EFFICIENT DOORS

Make your home more comfortable by installing energy-efficient doors. Beyond increasing your home’s curb appeal, they’ll improve its energy efficiency and save you money each month.

Upgrading your doors

The first step to upgrading your doors is to take a good look at their condition. Check the ease of operation of each door, look for excessive rot, and note the condition of any glass inserts. If a door is in reasonable condition, it may be more cost-effective for you to repair and seal it rather than replacing it altogether.

How to repair existing doors

  • To reduce air leakage, caulk any gaps between the trim and wall, and make sure the weatherstripping is flexible and properly installed.
  • Replace or repair any damaged glass inserts.
  • Replace weatherstripping if it’s worn out or doesn’t seal properly.
  • Install bottom seals or sweeps on doors that don’t have sill weatherstripping.

Replacing doors

If you decide to replace any of your doors, you’ll want to do the following:

  • Find out if your new doors meet ENERGY STAR® requirements by visiting the Natural Resources Canada website or asking your contractor.
  • Consider wood, vinyl, or fibreglass frames.
  • Source good-quality weatherstripping.
  • Plan to glaze with a low-e coating and an inert gas fill.

Talk to a contractor

It’s smart to talk to and hire a knowledgeable contractor to make sure your new doors will meet your needs, save energy, and be properly installed.

We recommend getting quotes from at least three contractors. These quotes should all have the same details so you can easily compare them. When you’re ready to make a decision, consider the best value rather than the lowest price.

Looking for a contractor? Read our advice for hiring a contractor here.

Identifying Ways to Save

Identifying Ways to Save

When it comes to improving your business’s bottom line, knowing how to find ways to save energy can be a daunting task. At Efficiency Manitoba, we want to help take the weight off.

We can help you save money by offering a variety of services that will measure, track, and identify the ways you can reduce electric and natural gas energy in your facility.

Once we work together on the concept, Efficiency Manitoba offers technical and financial support to help you implement the project. We work with you from the concept stage right up to completion of your energy efficiency project.

A Service to Fit Your Needs

Whether you’re looking for a high-level investigation of your energy use or help with developing the details on a specific project, Efficiency Manitoba can help.

Energy Efficiency Assessments

If you’re interested in gaining a better understanding of your facility’s energy use consider an Energy Efficiency Assessment. At no cost to you, we will provide a high-level look at your facility’s energy consumption and identify the big energy uses and help find potential opportunities for energy saving projects. All you have to do is complete an assessment questionnaire and our experts will complete a site walk-through and create a report based on their findings, including identifying projects that are eligible for our Custom Energy Solutions Program.

Benchmark

If you’re looking for a more detailed look at the performance of a particular system in your facility, choose a benchmark study. At no cost to you, Benchmark studies analyze system performance to help identify ways to optimize your existing equipment or appropriately size new equipment. If you’re interested, contact our energy team to see if your business qualifies.

Feasibility Study

At Efficiency Manitoba, we provide financial support for a comprehensive Feasibility Study of a specific energy efficiency project. The study is done by a third-party consultant of your choosing and offers a more detailed assessment compared to Benchmark studies, which only look at the performance of a particular system in your facility. If you have a project that you think could result in electrical or natural gas savings but aren’t sure how to quantify the technical viability, potential savings and project economics, you may be eligible for a Feasibility Study.

Custom Energy Solutions Program

Efficiency Manitoba offers technical and financial support to implement your project through the Custom Energy Solutions Program. If interested, contact our energy team to find out how we can help you.

Whichever pre-project service works best for you, Efficiency Manitoba also offers technical and financial support to implement your project through the Custom Energy Solutions Program Energy Efficiency Assessments. Contact our energy team to find out how we can help you.

Cool Your Refrigeration Energy Use

Cool Your Refrigeration Energy Use

If you operate a grocery store, convenience store, or a restaurant you know how high your overall energy bill can be, especially on the refrigeration equipment alone. In a typical grocery store, refrigeration can account for over 50% of the energy bill. But, it doesn’t have to be that way—there are many ways you can save energy in your space. And, to be energy efficient, you don’t have to replace your refrigeration system.

Below, we outline the ways you can manage your existing refrigeration equipment to save energy and money.

Energy Saving Tips for Grocery, Restaurant, and Convenience Stores

  1. Perform regular maintenance tasks including cleaning debris from the evaporator and condenser coils, check and service belts, filters, compressor lines, gaskets, door latches, fan blades, and refrigerant charge.
  2. Check operating temperatures regularly. These checks help maintain consistent temperatures and set thermostats to avoid overcooling merchandise.
  3. Educate your employees about energy conservation measures. Post signs to remind staff to shut off lights and close doors.
  4. Load all coolers and freezers properly. Try to avoid over and underloading by leaving a1” gap on the sides and a 4” gap at the back to allow a steady flow of air.
  5. Avoid heat buildup by using as few lights as possible. To illuminate refrigerated space interiors, consider upgrading to LED’s.
  6. To minimize cool air loss, consider installing automatic door closers.
  7. Install night covers to open cases to reduce energy consumption during your unoccupied hours.

Take advantage of Efficiency Manitoba’s many available incentives for commercial refrigeration equipment upgrades or replacements.