Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


Home Renovation FAQs

What is the Regional Energy Efficiency Program - Home Renovation?
A simplified process has been designed to help you reduce energy costs. If you are a resident of the Regional District of Central Kootenay, you can access an energy evaluation to determine what energy efficient upgrades (retrofits) can be done to reduce energy consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions. You will be able to access current rebate offers, financing options, a local contractor guide and energy coaching.

Who can register?
Everyone living in the RDCK can register. (View a map of the RDCK here.) Whether you rent, own or you are looking to build a new home you can register for this program. Once you submit the registration form, we will work with you to find the best option for you.

Program Registration:

What happens after I register?
After you submit your registration form, you will be contacted to discuss the best option for making your home more energy efficient. Depending on which program is best for you, you may receive a local contractor guide, energy coaching services local financing options.

 What kinds of programs are there?

  • Home Renovation: This is for homeowners who are interested in having an EnerGuide home energy evaluation before and after your home renovation, also called pre-evaluation and post-evaluation. It is important to have the evaluation prior to starting the renovations, so that everything you do will count towards current rebate offers.
  • Energy Conservation Assistance Program (ECAP): If you qualify, based on your income, this program offers free installation and supply of energy efficient products, this is available for those who rent or own their homes.
  • New Homes: You will access information on how you can build a more energy efficient home than what the prescriptive building code is, this is the new BC Energy Step Code. Depending on your community, there may be incentives to building better than the current building code.

Why has this program been developed?
In 2016, the RDCK adopted the Strategic Community Energy & Emissions Plan (SCEEP). This plan describes energy use and greenhouse gas emissions with a view to improving efficiency, cutting emissions, enhancing community resilience, managing future risks, and driving economic development. The plan also lists several categories in the Action Plan section such as building, transportation and waste. The Regional Energy Efficiency Program addresses residential buildings.

Energy Evaluation FAQs

What is an EnerGuide Rating?
An EnerGuide rating, label and report will help you better understand your home’s energy performance, which may help you lower your energy use. 

What can I expect at the EnerGuide home energy evaluation?
An EnerGuide home energy evaluation can help you understand how your home uses energy now – and identify upgrade opportunities to help improve the energy efficiency of your home. The EnerGuide home energy evaluation generally takes a couple of hours at your home; the Certified Energy Advisor will assess your home from basement to attic, looking at insulation, windows, doors, space and water heating and ventilation. The advisor will also use a blower door test to measure the air exchange in your home to find out whether your home is too leaky or if it’s under-ventilated. While the fan is running, you can feel exactly where your home is leaking air. You may be surprised at all the hidden leaks! Once you have completed your energy upgrades and complete a post-energy evaluation you will receive an EnerGuide rating for your home.

The Certified Energy Advisor will also perform a safety check called an Exhaust Devices Depressurization Test to determine if there are conditions that may cause your home’s exhaust systems to pull dangerous combustion gasses, including carbon monoxide, into your home. This is also referred to as a combustion spill leakage test.

The Certified Energy Advisor will use the data from the EnerGuide home energy evaluation as well as NRCan’s HOT2000 energy simulation software to find your home’s current and potential energy ratings. You will receive a customized report to help you make decisions about doing retrofits or upgrades. The report will add up all of the leakages within your home and provide you a measurement of an equivalent sized space that would be open to the outside at all times. This is helpful to get an idea of how leaky or well sealed your home is.

Watch this video to learn more about an EnerGuide Home Energy Evaluation.

Who performs the EnerGuide home energy evaluation?
A Certified Energy Advisor who is licensed and certified through Natural Resources Canada and working for a service organization. For this program we have a contract with Ecofitt to deliver this service. Learn more about EcoFitt.

What is the post-energy evaluation?
After your renovations are done, the Certified Energy Advisor returns to check on the improvements you’ve made and will calculate your new EnerGuide rating, some rebates and bonus rebates are determined at this stage.

When is payment collected?
Payment is due at the time of scheduling for each EnerGuide home energy evaluation.

What free energy efficiency products will be installed, and what if I don’t need them?
You can accept all, part or none of the following free installations that the Certified Energy Advisor will offer, as needed, to install:

  • water efficient taps (bathroom sink aerator or kitchen sink aerator)
  • showerhead (either fixed or handheld)
  • replace up to four incandescent bulbs with LEDs.

Do I have to complete the energy efficiency recommendations by the Certified Energy Advisor?
No. It is not a program requirement to complete the recommended retrofits. However, the objective of REEP and the Home Renovation component is to encourage participants to improve energy efficiency by completing some or all of the recommended upgrades. Financing options are available.

What is a heat pump?
Watch this short informational video to find out what a heat pump is. For current rebates, visit

What is renewable natural gas?
Watch this video to learn about a renewable energy option for natural gas, and visit this Renewable Natural Gas page on the Fortis website for more information.

How do I find contractors?
For your convenience, you can download this list of contractors who do energy upgrade work within the RDCK.

* Please note that this list is not a pre-qualified nor recommended list of contractors; it is for your convenience only. Inclusion on this list does not indicate endorsement by the RDCK or any party or persons affiliated with the Regional Energy Efficiency Program. You are welcome to contact any other contractor not on this list. If you use a contractor on or off of this list please ensure that you still ask the same questions as you would when hiring a contractor outside of this program. Some things to ask for are qualifications, references, licenses and experience. The work being done in your home is the sole responsibility of you and your contractor, not the RDCK or any persons affiliated with delivering the Regional Energy Efficiency Program.

For more information and tips on hiring a contractor go to Canadian Home Builder's Association. This list will be part of the welcome email that you will receive upon registering.

Can I do the upgrades myself or do I have to hire a contractor?
Yes, you can complete the upgrades yourself, however, some rebate eligibility may require a qualified contractor to complete the work. Please read the criteria for rebate eligibility thoroughly and review the application deadlines.

REBATES: EfficiencyBC offers energy coaching, and features a full list of rebates and the eligibility criteria. This can be accessed here.

Energy Conservation Assistance Program (ECAP)

What is ECAP?

The Energy Conservation Assistance Program is for income-qualified households and provides an in home visit with free energy-saving product installation including energy-saving LED light bulbs, high efficiency showerheads, and weather-stripping to reduce drafts. FortisBC also offers a $25 furnace filter coupon. Some homes may also qualify for an ENERGY STAR® refrigerator, insulation in walls, attic, and/or crawlspace, and/or a high-efficiency gas furnace. You can also receive customized energy coaching for how to improve your home’s efficiency.

Watch this video to learn more:
Energy Conservation Program

If you are interested, please register and you will receive further instruction on how to apply:

New Home FAQs

How should I approach building a new home?
A new home is one of the biggest investments a person will make. Know what you are  getting by planning, designing and building a new home informed by energy modeling. Maximizing energy efficiency and minimizing operation costs is least expensive when done from the design stage. Verify your home’s performance at the end with air tightness testing.

The BC Energy Step Code provides an approach to “building beyond the standard” that requires energy modeling and end-of-construction testing.  Learn more on building your home with maximum home comfort, long-term durability and reduced operating utility costs.   

What is the BC Energy Step Code?
The BC Energy Step Code is a voluntary provincial standard that provides a consistent approach to achieving more energy-efficient buildings.  The BC Energy Step Code establishes the pathway to meeting the goal of all new homes achieving net zero ready by 2032 and indicates the direction for future changes to the BC Building Code.

BC Energy Step Code is based on performance pathway of Building Code compliance, meaning energy modeling and verification are key components of the building process.

Each step of the BC Energy Step code requires that builders model their home pre-construction, which means they work with a Certified Energy Advisor, who uses software to analyze construction plans and determine building energy efficiency. This modeling process provides opportunity to adjust construction plans to improve energy performance, before a shovel hits the ground.

During construction, builders pay attention to air sealing, walls, windows, doors and insulation to achieve energy model performance. A mid-construction blower door test,  done pre-drywall stage, provides an opportunity to seal up any leaks while still cost-effective to do so. The ultimate goal of following the BC Energy Step Code is to reward the future homeowner with building comfort and reduced utility bills.

What are the steps of the BC Energy Step Code?
Visit the BC Energy Step Code website for a complete description.

  • Step 1: Energy modeling and verification. Builders will work with an Energy Advisor to follow the performance pathway of the BC Building Code.
  • Step 2: Energy modeling and verification, performing 10% more efficient than homes built to the prescriptive pathway of the 2017 BC Building Code.  (Builders in the Kootenay region typically achieve Step 2 through current construction practice.)
  • Step 3: Energy modeling and verification, performing 20% more efficient than homes built to the prescriptive pathway of the 2017 BC Building Code. (Builders in the Kootenay region report that Step 3 is achieved with better attention to detail in the air sealing phase and with the cooperation of sub-trades to minimize wall penetrations.)
  • Step 4: Energy modeling and verification,  performing 40% more efficient than homes built to the prescriptive pathway of the 2017 BC Building Code.
  • Step 5: Energy modeling and verification and Net Zero Ready, meaning there are opportunities to incorporate renewables to satisfy the energy demand of the home. The home has been built to maximize energy efficiency.

How should I approach planning to build a new home?
Consider a holistic approach to your building design. Engage with a Certified Energy Advisor early on to understand the energy implications of very early decisions to your design, including orientation of the home, aspect and number of windows, and heating/ventilation options. Engage early on with the full team – homeowner, architect, general contractor and certified energy advisor to ensure the home is achieving the desired performance while meeting the needs of the homeowner. The more detailed the planning phase, the less likely for costly changes part way through.

Central Kootenay Sustainability Checklist is available to help plan, design and build with goals of sustainability and energy-efficiency.  

The RDCK encourages energy efficiency measures and renewable energy technologies in new residential building construction and retrofits. This supports regional goals of sustainability and energy reduction objectives as outlined in local Community Energy and Emissions Plans.

Does my builder have to work with a Certified Energy Advisor?
Yes. The BC Energy Step Code requires Part 9 builders to work with a Certified Energy Advisor or energy modeller to review plans, model energy consumption, conduct air tightness testing and verify the plans and as-built home will meet the energy performance requirement of a given step of the BC Energy Step Code. Learn more.

Where do I find a Certified Energy Advisor?
Begin early in your building planning stage to work with a Certified  Energy Advisor to model the building plans before any construction takes place.  A provincial list of Certified Energy Advisors is found here.

In the Regional District of Central Kootenay, we have worked with 3West Building Energy Consultants Inc., Total Home Solutions, and other advisors.

How much does it cost to work with an Energy Advisor?
Each project is priced individually and has its own parameters.  Certified Energy Advisors typically charge for a package that includes: plan modeling; advice to homebuilders to improve energy efficiency in building practice; and post construction site visit blower door test to measure building’s airtightness.  Highly recommended is to include a mid-construction blower door test.  This allows opportunity for the builder to check the airtightness of the building at a point (pre-drywall) where any air leakage can be addressed most cost effectively. 

Are there incentives available to help cover the cost of the Energy Advisor?
Yes, at this time the utilities are providing some incentive support.  The Certified Energy Advisor will help you to access any incentive available to you. 

How much extra does it cost to build to the BC Energy Step Code?
Working with a certified energy adviser to build a home that has a higher energy performance than current building practice does have incremental costs.  These are offset by the long-term lower operating cost of your home and higher home value attributed to high quality building construction materials and techniques.   The incremental increased cost to meet Step 1 of the BC Energy Step Code is in the order of $1000 in the entire building process.     Case studies noting the incremental building cost to achieve Step 3 report them as 0% to 4% higher.  Builder experience is found here

Local builders report working to meet Step 3 found the extra costs in the hiring of a certified energy advisor, time to air seal properly, using high quality windows and installing heat pumps rather than electric base boards. 

When will it become mandatory to build to the BC Energy Step Code?
The current base BC Building Code will be amended so that all new homes must be built to be 20% more energy efficient and reach Step 3 in 2022.

The Regional Energy Efficiency Program’s goal is to support builders in the Kootenays to build to Step Code prior to the 2022 requirement in order to support the building industry in the transition to performance pathway.

Proposed dates* for RDCK builders to adopt Step Code in their building practice:



Voluntary Step 1


Required Step 1



Step 3

RDCK Required Step 3



Step 3

(Base Code Change)































*These dates are noted as a guideline for builders and have not yet been adopted by the RDCK Board. 

What are other jurisdictions doing with respect to Step Code adoption?
BC local governments have indicated they are consulting industry and referencing the BC Energy Step Code in policy, program, or bylaw. In the Kootenays, City of Kimberley is currently required Step 2 for all Part 9 buildings, while Elkford and Sparwood will be requiring Step 1 as of December 2019.  A complete list of communities across the province engaging with Step Code can be found here

The content on this page was last updated June 7 2022 at 2:53 AM