Person Reviewing a Home Energy Label

Home energy labeling

Rating the efficiency of a house can protect homebuyers and sellers.

Indoor Spaces
3 - 5 min read

When it comes to home energy efficiency, it’s what’s behind the drywall and beneath the floorboards that counts. That’s where a home energy label and energy efficiency rating can come in handy.

Just like nutrition labeling on food packaging, a home energy label can help you make decisions that are in the best interests of you, your family and your community. The label displays the rating results of a home energy audit, as a sticker on the electrical panel for example, and can help you quickly assess a dwelling’s energy performance.

It does this by providing a standardized EnerGuide rating number, which is a score between 1 and 100, for a house, duplex or low-rise apartment. A high number means the house is energy efficient, whereas a low number means the house is energy inefficient. A one-point improvement typically reduces your home's energy consumption by three to five per cent, meaning that the operating costs of the house should be lower too. Similar EnerGuide ratings can also be found on appliances like refrigerators and cars.

An EnerGuide home energy label.
An EnerGuide home energy label can help you quickly assess a dwelling’s energy performance. 

The rating takes into account how well the home’s envelope is sealed (by the vapour barrier behind the drywall, windows and doors) and insulated, as well as the efficiency of its heating systems (e.g., a furnace or heat pump).

 The rating is generated through an evaluation by a National Resources Canada (NRCan)-certified energy advisor. NRCan also oversees the Energy Star® labelling program, which is designed for houses that go beyond building code requirements to meet even higher energy-efficiency criteria.

Alongside the energy rating, a home energy assessment also provides an accompanying energy report. The report describes insulation levels, heating systems and the building’s air-tightness; estimates annual electricity and gas consumption; and suggests custom energy-efficiency upgrades, including an estimate of potential energy savings.

An EnerGuide rating has many benefits for homeowners or prospective buyers. In particular, it measures things that would otherwise be invisible to you, like how much insulation the house has and where your home could be leaking air. It supports a better understanding of long-term operating costs, and you’ll get a sense of the energy-efficiency upgrades you may want to prioritize in the future, say, when you renovate your kitchen.

If you’re looking to buy, it’s easier to make informed choices about specific properties and whether renovations may be needed if those properties come with a home energy label rating and a report.

Thermal image of an old house.
The EnerGuide label displays the results of a home energy audit.

But home energy labels are also good for home sellers. For example, homes with green labels tend to sell faster and for higher prices — so improving your insulation and upgrading your energy systems and appliances and getting an energy label before you sell can lead to a better return on your investment

Although energy labelling is not mandatory in Canada, energy audits are available across the country and labeling programs are available in some Canadian municipalities, like Edmonton. Surveys show that most Canadians approve of home energy labeling and 89 per cent say they would support the government requiring it. If home energy labeling and ratings were to become the norm, it would be that much easier to be energy aware.

A couple buying a house from a real estate agent.
Home energy labels can benefit both buyers and sellers. 

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