Members of the Athabasca Chipewyan First Nation housing maintenance crew have been busy installing energy efficient upgrades in homes around town.

According to Linda Berry, housing director of ACFN, five homes are getting major energy upgrades, and insulation is being added to attics in 80 more homes. Smaller upgrades are being made available to more homes as well. The ACFN has a crew of 10 regular maintenance folks and a few contractors working on the energy efficiency program. So far, eight new energy efficient furnaces have been installed.

Randal Perras working on energy efficiency upgrades
Randal Perras of GEA working on energy efficiency upgrades in ACFN home.

The Athatbasca Chipewyan First Nation (ACFN) and Greenplanet Energy Analytics (GEA) worked together to develop a made in Fort Chipewyan Community Energy Plan to identify the energy efficient upgrades, retrofits and behaviors with the best payback. This includes ensuring ACFN staff have a solid understanding of how to complete the upgrades and why they are beneficial, to ensure longevity of the program in the community.

The strategy implemented by ACFN and GEA is meant for band-owned and municipal buildings to meet the following objectives:

  • Support economic development in Fort Chipewyan by reducing diesel and electricity costs.
  • Reduce the environmental footprint of the community by increasing each home’s energy efficiency.

What is Energy Efficiency?

Energy Efficiency is all about reducing the amount of energy wasted and getting more out of less. Energy efficiency is win-win-win! Not only will occupants save money on utilities, occupant comfort is improved and their impact on the environment is reduced. The ACFN Residential Energy Efficiency (REE) program aims to reduce cost and energy waste in 3 areas:

  • Water
  • Electricity
  • Heating

How do we Achieve this?

The ACFN REE program has identified what upgrades will save home occupants the most money, in the shortest amount of time. This includes:

  • LED’s
  • Programmable / smart thermostats
  • Advanced power strips (APS)
  • Improving attic, wall and basement insulation
  • High efficiency furnaces
  • High efficiency hot water tanks
  • Efficient windows & doors
  • Aerators

The housing team periodically replaces home components as they fail over time. By incorporating energy efficiency into their decision-making process, a slightly higher upfront cost for energy efficient upgrades will result in long term savings for the home occupants. Major upgrades such as hot water tanks or windows are typically completed when replacements are already needed, while smaller upgrades such as new LED light bulbs will be more readily available to ACFN members.

Community engagement is essential for any program’s success. The ACFN team is developing energy efficiency education handouts to increase energy literacy and help home occupants understand the benefits they will be receiving from energy efficiency upgrades.

The program uses business case estimation tools to predict the energy savings, environmental benefit and the payback period (how long it takes for the savings to pay for the upgrade) of each energy efficiency upgrade. This estimation will later be verified by comparing energy use, found on utility bills before and after the upgrade.

Energy Efficiency upgrades have already begun being deployed within ACFN band owned homes, with more upgrades to be installed in 2021!

For more information on what residential energy efficiency is and how it works, check out the LEARNING PAGE.