Canadian Contractor

Steve Payne   

Do you know what an ERS measures? As a contractor, you need to know

Canadian Contractor

Hint: It's got to do with energy-efficiency. And it all started in Ottawa.

“Can you improve our ERS?”

That simple question might be right up there with “Can you work for cash?” and “Can you get this done in two weeks?” when it comes to questions renovation contractors are constantly being asked.

ERS stands for EnerGuide Rating System for houses. It’s an energy efficiency number that governments at all levels are very much interested in promoting in the years to come.

“The new ERS system will change the way you build,” says our contributing editor Steve Maxwell, in a terrific article about the ERS we are currently working on for the upcoming Jan/Feb print issue of Canadian Contractor.


“When it comes to Canadian houses, energy efficiency is something of a black box,” Steve writes. “Sure, there are R values stamped on every bale of insulation, and we’ve got high-efficiency furnaces and mini-split air conditioners, solar-this and passive-that, but what does it all amount to? What’s the energy bottom line for a given building or renovation? No one can tell for sure right now, but that’s changing.”

“Answering the question of energy consumption with plain numbers is the reason for Canada’s new and improved EnerGuide Rating System (ERS) for houses. It’s a big-gun solution that does things never achieved before. And it will change the way you build because it makes the invisible visible.”

“ERS describes the energy usage of a house in real terms (gigajoules or GJ), then explains that usage in a detailed report. Think of it like the miles per gallon rating on your truck, but more detailed. ERS is being developed for use across Canada. It’s in testing right now in the Yukon, and it will be public later this year. Ontario has even vowed to make ERS analysis mandatory for every house that’s offered for sale – both new and resale – by 2019. This will change the residential construction, renovation and real estate games.”

“So why is ERS for houses more than just another bit of bureaucratic complication? Because it leaves fewer places to hide bad work. Some contractors will love ERS and others will hate it. Your experience depends on what kind of builder you are. One thing’s for sure, you won’t be able to avoid ERS.”

“When it comes to building and renovations, it’s easy to cheat. And of all the areas for possible cheating, insulation and energy efficiency have always been the easiest because they’re unseen. So if you’re the kind of builder who takes pride in all those important, hidden things that go into building an efficient house, then you’ll love ERS. But if you’re one of those good-enough guys who builds because it’s a default career that pays for your weekends, then you’ll hate ERS.”

If you’re a contractor, let us know if you think the introduction of this powerful new rating system to describe the energy-efficiency of each Canadian home will lead to more business opportunities for you. Or do you just consider this another government-force-fed bureaucratic boondoggle?



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1 Comment » for Do you know what an ERS measures? As a contractor, you need to know
  1. Marten says:

    On the surface this seems like a good idea. I bet it is going to be hard to implement in the real world. Will it make a difference in the resale market? If it works then great as it is a factor for some and it is hard to tell if what is on the real estate sheets is correct or not.

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