Eco-Energy Retrofit Program
August 5th, 2011 - 5:05pm
As opposition, our role is to focus on items which we believe the government is handling wrong or could do a better job at. However, it is also important to give credit where credit is due. A good example of this is the inclusion of the Eco-Energy Retrofit program in this year’s budget. We were extremely pleased that the government actually listened to opposing opinions and took action that was both welcomed and easy to support.
While the budget in its entirety was not something I could support, the inclusion of the retrofit program is laudable and would have received my full support as a stand-alone item. It was something New Democrats had consistently been calling for and had been among the conditions we sought in order to help the previous minority government pass a 2011 budget.
The reason we were so keen on seeing the program extended is that it works. It helps Canadians make their houses energy efficient which in turn lowers their energy costs – by as much as 20 percent - and moves Canada incrementally forward in terms of lowering our carbon footprint.
The one important element of the program that must be realized by Canadians is that an energy audit is required before repairs are undertaken. Without an initial audit, the opportunity to take part in the program is forgone. That is harsh news for someone who has already spent money on making their home more energy efficient and then realizes the program was available.
The program is pretty straightforward. Homeowners are eligible to receive grants of up to $5,000 to make their homes more energy-efficient. There are a number of retrofits the program will support such as heating, cooling, ventilation, and replacement windows and doors. The Natural Resources website includes a table that explains the grants available for eligible retrofits.
Unlike the previous version of the program, there are two important changes to be noted.
- A requirement for participants to register directly with the program before booking their evaluation.
- A requirement for home owners to provide receipts to their energy advisor at the time of the post-retrofit evaluation to confirm eligibility for the grant.
It is also important to know that only products purchased after June 6, 2011, and installed after a pre-retrofit evaluation are eligible for an ecoENERGY grant. All work and evaluations have to be completed by March 31, 2012 and the homeowner must also sign the grant application by this date.
The details of the program are available online - http://oee.nrcan.gc.ca/residential/personal/retrofit-homes/retrofit-qualify-grant.cfm .
Hopefully, the government will see fit to continue this incentive for a number of years, as the need to make our homes more efficient is likely to continue for a long time as not everyone is able to commit the significant funds needed for these upgrades without saving for a few years.