New federal grant program offers homeowners up to $5,000 for ‘green’ upgrades

A new seven-year, $2.6-billion program from the federal government will provide financial assistance for up to 700,000 Canadians looking to improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

The Canada Greener Homes Grant will provide up to $5,000 per household towards green retrofits and $600 for an EnerGuide evaluation that will assess a home’s energy rating before and after the work is done.

The government says the program will help homeowners make their homes more energy efficient, create new jobs across Canada for energy advisors, grow the country’s domestic green supply chains and fight climate change.

To be eligible, the home must be a primary residence, and if it is a condominium unit, it cannot be in a building taller than three storeys. Once this requirement is met, an EnerGuide evaluation must be completed, at least one recommended improvement must be made and retrofit materials must be sourced from Canadian suppliers.

Alireza Amiri, service organization manager with EnerSolution Inc., one of several companies in Alberta that are government certified to offer EnerGuide evaluations, says the process involves gathering data on the home during an inspection, then entering it into energy modelling software.

Amiri says the software will come up with an energy rating “label” for the home, as well as recommendations for improving energy efficiency. The label rating is like the ones you see when shopping for appliances, with certain models having a higher or lower rating.

Amiri says after improvements are made to the home, it is inspected again and a new energy rating label is calculated. This lets the homeowner know the energy savings they might expect, he adds, and allows the government to tabulate the overall impact, “so the government can tell exactly how much gas or electricity is saved by running this program,”

Peter Darlington, president of Solar Homes Inc., says he thinks programs like the Canada Greener Homes Grant are worthwhile for many homeowners.

Darlington’s company specializes in planning upgrades to a home to make it fully net zero – producing as much energy as it consumes – and their clients benefit by reducing their environmental impact and saving money on energy costs.

He converted his own home years ago and says with carbon taxes set to rise to $200 a tonne in the coming years, “I’m displacing 1,700 tonnes on my home – that’s $3,400 a year (saved).” That doesn’t even include the savings on fuel costs that come from a net-zero home, he adds.

Darlington says the grant program’s $5,000 limit means it won’t be a deciding factor for anyone who wants to make a home fully net zero, since the process can cost $80,000 to $120,000, but it is an incentive to make some upgrades.

For instance, the path to net zero includes improving the building envelope, installing energy-efficient heating and cooling equipment, then adding a solar panel system.

“Even if you’re not looking to go to net zero, the incentive on displacing your existing electrical consumption with solar panels is really attractive,” said Darlington. “It’s $1,000 per kilowatt, so that’s in the range of 40 per cent of the total cost.”

For more information about the Canada Greener Homes Grant or to apply, click here.

Jun 30, 2021