Audrey's Story

A woman who’d never received anything for free receives free home upgrades

Audrey’s 30-year-old furnace had been a constant source of worry. Like many Albertans, the fear that her furnace could fail at any moment stuck in the back of her mind, particularly during Edmonton’s long, harsh winters. And for Audrey, that came true. When her furnace stopped working during the winter months, she was faced with an $800 bill to repair her furnace on short notice. Still, repairing it was more affordable than purchasing a new model, even if it was nearing the end of its life.

During the service appointment, Audrey learned that her heating system was still not working as efficiently as it should, resulting in higher bills and additional stress. And despite the furnace consuming so much energy, her master bedroom remained cold.  

“It felt like walking into a refrigerator,” explained Audrey, who said the register was warm, but her rooms remained chilly.

Like others who have benefited from the Home Upgrades Program (HUP), Audrey’s home grew cold in the winter and became uncomfortably hot during the summer. She also knew that her attic required new insultation and that her front door needed weatherstripping. Upgrades such as insulation, however, were costly and felt out of reach.

When Audrey heard about the program, she thought it sounded “way too good to be true” and retained some skepticism.

“I’ve never ever gotten anything free in my life,” she said. But the TV advert stuck with her, and she decided to investigate the program, hoping to benefit. Audrey’s research led her to our funding partners, and she learnt that the program was designed for Alberta homeowners just like her. Qualifying for the program would present a real chance to get some much-needed work done on her 1996 home.

After the initial inspection, the HUP team informed Audrey that she not only qualified for a new high-efficiency furnace and attic insulation, but that her two-story home would also receive free waterline insulation, air sealing, a door sweep replacement, as well as carbon monoxide and smoke detectors.

These upgrades were not only essential to Audrey’s comfort and safety but will also help lower Audrey’s energy bills by improving her home’s energy efficiency. Waterline insulation, for example, will prevent Audrey’s pipes from freezing during cold snaps, while lowering the rate of heat loss as hot water flows through the pipes. Air sealing will also improve the home’s energy efficiency by reducing air leakage around window frames and exterior doors. Without air sealing, leakage would negate some of the benefits reaped by a new high-efficiency furnace.

Today, Audrey’s new furnace is nice and quiet, a fact she celebrates after hearing that a high-efficiency furnace might be noisier than her existing one. Speaking of her experience, Audrey shared nothing but praise.

“I would really highly recommend Russ,” she said, referring to the program’s Edmonton-based construction manager and energy assessor. “He was really punctual and pleasant to have in my home.” She proceeded to compliment the program’s trades partners, who she said were always on time.

HUP is lucky to work with many incredible partners, including our local trades partners: IDEAL Insulation, NuVision Contracting, ENERGY Insulation, Electrek Contracting, Canmore Plumbing and Heating, and Canmore Glass. The Home Upgrades Program is also funded by a coalition of generous partners: Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, the City of Calgary, the City of Edmonton, ENMAX, Alberta Real Estate Foundation, Suncor Energy Foundation, McConnell Foundation, Calgary Foundation, and the Town of Canmore.

Our partners are committed to helping Albertans improve the affordability, comfort, and efficiency of their homes. It is thanks to them that our program is completely free to income-qualified homeowners.

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