February 22nd, 2024

By providing financial assistance to homeowners retrofitting their homes, the Canada Greener Homes Grant and Home Efficiency Rebate Plus programs supported actions to combat climate change, increased energy efficiency and comfort, and helped reduce energy bills. The federal government is no longer accepting applications for either program. (Photo: Clara Blakelock / GreenUP)

By providing financial assistance to homeowners retrofitting their homes, the Canada Greener Homes Grant and Home Efficiency Rebate Plus programs supported actions to combat climate change, increased energy efficiency and comfort, and helped reduce energy bills. The federal government is no longer accepting applications for either program. (Photo: Clara Blakelock / GreenUP)

By: Clara Blakelock, Home Energy Program Manager, GreenUP

Apart from the partially snow-covered gardens, kids’ toys on the lawn, and the odd remaining holiday lights, there is something present in Peterborough’s residential streets: wasted home heating energy and greenhouse gas emissions.

Our homes are a significant source of greenhouse gas emissions. Most of the emissions come from heating our homes with natural gas, propane or fuel oil. Paired with infrastructure that doesn’t keep the heat in, your home likely has a significant amount of wasted energy.

In 2021, the Canada Greener Homes Grant program launched across Canada, giving homeowners rebates of up to $5,000 for measures that reduce carbon emissions and save money on energy bills. This was followed by the Canada Greener Homes Loan in 2022, which offered an additional $40,000 in interest free loans to support homeowners to complete additional retrofits. In 2023, the Home Efficiency Rebate Plus program was launched, providing additional rebates up to $10,000 for customers of Enbridge gas.

At the beginning of February, it was announced that due to overwhelming popularity, no new applications to the Home Efficiency Rebate Plus program or Canada Greener Homes Grant would be accepted.

Ryan Waudby is the president of Tom’s Heating and Cooling, a Peterborough-based Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning business. “The incentive program has changed the way we do business,” says Waudby. “We’ve seen the most growth in the history of the company from 2020 onwards, in part due to this program. There was a lot of interest in heat pumps.”

Locally, provincially and nationally, these programs have been wildly successful. Because of the detailed Energuide assessments that were performed before and after every retrofit, the impacts on saving energy and emissions were powerfully measurable.

Ryan Waudby of Tom’s Heating and Cooling in Peterborough says there was a lot of interest in heat pumps as a result of the federal government’s energy efficiency incentive programs. The rebate programs also helped drive business for a whole industry of green professionals, including heat pump installers, insulation companies, solar energy companies, and registered energy advisors who measure the impact of these upgrades. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Waudby)

Ryan Waudby of Tom’s Heating and Cooling in Peterborough says there was a lot of interest in heat pumps as a result of the federal government’s energy efficiency incentive programs. The rebate programs also helped drive business for a whole industry of green professionals, including heat pump installers, insulation companies, solar energy companies, and registered energy advisors who measure the impact of these upgrades. (Photo courtesy of Ryan Waudby)

Homeowners undertook upgrades like insulating their attics, basements and walls, sealing drafts, replacing windows, or adding mechanical systems like heat pumps and solar panels.

GreenUP supported over 100 local homeowners in the completion of retrofits over the past two years. Over 300 other homes have retrofits in progress. Many of these retrofits were funded in part by recently cancelled Home Efficiency Rebate Plus.

In 2023, the retrofits completed by GreenUP clients saved an average of 29% of total energy use in each home. This resulted in a staggering average of 2.8 tonnes of annual greenhouse gas emissions savings per household. The biggest impacts came from homeowners switching over their primary heating system and converting to air source heat pumps for home heating. Almost 70% of homeowners who completed retrofits in 2023 added a heat pump.

The rebate program helped drive business for a whole industry of green professionals, including heat pump installers, insulation companies, solar energy companies, and registered energy advisors who measure the impact of these upgrades.

Currently, homeowners who have already completed a pre-retrofit assessment are still eligible to complete their upgrades and claim their rebates through Home Efficiency Rebate Plus.

Additionally, the zero interest Canada Greener Homes Loan remains available for homeowners interested in pursuing assessments and retrofits that help save money and emissions.

Waudby, who is also a homeowner, was in the unfortunate position of missing the deadline to enroll in the Home Efficiency Rebate Plus program for his own home. His energy assessment was booked just a week after the suddenly announced deadline for the program. Despite this, he moved forward in the process.

“I still decided to go forward with my assessment. Saving energy isn’t just about a rebate program,” says Waudby. He is eligible to apply for heat pump rebates through the Clean Home Heating Initiative, still available to customers of Enbridge Gas within the City of Peterborough.

Waudby encourages others to undertake an energy assessment as well, even without a rebate program available. “The reports are very valuable for seeing where you are and where you can get to. It is worth the cost!”

Clara Blakelock, Program Manager of the Home Energy Program at GreenUP, analyzes a cold-climate air-source heat pump. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)

Clara Blakelock, Program Manager of the Home Energy Program at GreenUP, analyzes a cold-climate air-source heat pump. (Photo courtesy of GreenUP)

Only a small fraction of the homes that need retrofitting have completed the process. The City of Peterborough  needs thousands of homeowners to retrofit their homes in order to meet its 2030 greenhouse gas emissions target set out when the City of Peterborough declared a climate emergency in 2019.

Rebate programs are key tools for facilitating homeowners to take action to reduce their household emissions. GreenUP hopes to see additional programs launched soon so we can continue to build on the work that has been done.

The Federal government and Enbridge are revising how their energy efficiency programs are delivered. GreenUP continues to offer energy assessments to people who want to learn more about the energy performance of their home or who want to gain access to the Federal Greener Homes Loan program.

Because of rapid changes to rebate programs, we ask that you please contact us through our website (www.greenup.on.ca/home-energy) if you want to book a home energy assessment.

If you are interested in joining the conversation about energy efficiency grants and loans, you may be interested in this article and call to action (https://greencommunitiescanada.org/prompt-the-federal-government-to-continue-the-canada-greener-homes-grant/) from Green Communities Canada.