How to make the most of the new federal “green” housing renovation grant
When the federal government launched the Canadian Green Home Grant a week ago, the interest level was high enough Crash the website temporarily. So far, the program has received at least 30,000 applications.
Now, energy auditors and contractors say they are accepting a wave of inquiries from homeowners who are keen to apply for federal support that may reach $5,600 per household.
“There are actually thousands of homeowners calling,” said Peter Sundberg, executive director of City Green Solutions, an energy efficiency non-profit organization in British Columbia. “I think the demand is already very high.”
However, despite the high adoption rate, there are early concerns about the size and scope of the grant program.
“This project faces some challenges,” said Tom-Pierre Frappe-Seneclause, Director of Architecture and Urban Solutions at the Pembina Institute.
In order to answer some unresolved questions and explore the limitations of the plan, CBC News delved into the details of the Canadian Green Home Grant.
Who is eligible?
The homeowner, obviously. However, applicants must meet some other conditions before applying online:
- They must prove that they live in a house; landlords who live off-site are not eligible.
- The house must be a detached or semi-detached house, townhouse, townhouse, four-season cottage, or some type of mobile home or houseboat.
- Although apartments are usually not eligible, apartment owners in low-rise buildings may qualify.
- Aboriginal band committees, land claims organizations and aboriginal housing management agencies can apply for subsidies.
- The new house does not meet the conditions.
Which upgrades are eligible?
According to Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN), the federal department that administers the program, these are the projects eligible for funding:
- Insulation (up to 5,000 USD)
- Air seal to improve air tightness (up to $1,000)
- Replacement of doors and windows (up to USD 5,000)
- Install heat pump And hot water equipment (up to 5,000 USD)
- Install solar panels (up to $5,000)
- Resilient measures such as batteries, foundation waterproofing and roof membranes (up to US$2,625)
- Install a smart thermostat (up to $50, but must be combined with other modifications)
NRCAN stated that materials and equipment must be purchased in Canada or from online dealers in Canada.
Are there any additional conditions?
The homeowner will not receive the money in advance. The subsidy will only arrive after they have spent the money-in some cases, the amount is considerable. To qualify, the homeowner must first accept an energy audit at his own expense, hire a contractor, pay for materials, and then pass the final follow-up energy audit—also out of pocket.
Once the upgrade is certified, the government said it will repay the homeowner and the money should be credited to the account within one month. However, the homeowner cannot guarantee a subsidy of up to $5,600. The amount of the subsidy depends on the audit performed when the work is completed.
The Pembina Institute stated that the cost of large-scale retrofits to cut energy bills and reduce emissions may exceed the value of the grant. For single-family houses, the cost of this type of work ranges from $30,000 to $100,000.
“It’s not free money,” Frappé-Sénéclauze said.
How can homeowners get the most benefit?
Experts said that homeowners should carefully consider their decoration priorities before moving in. Is the house too hot in summer? Is it ventilated in winter? Is it time to repair the leaking foundation? How big is the carbon footprint of the building? Houses and buildings account for 18% of the country’s carbon emissions.
Due to the surge in demand for the program, the waiting time for energy consultants and contractors has increased, and applicants may have to wait longer before repairs can begin.
Sandberg said: “I think the demand is so high now, and all provinces have such high production capacity, and can respond to it.” “It’s best to pause for a moment and think about the upgrades you might want to make. Potentially consider what kind of contractor you want to work with.”
And don’t worry; the green home subsidy will be provided in the next seven years. In fact, by considering their home improvement goals in advance, many homeowners may decide to complete the job faster and cheaper without waiting for government help.
On the other hand, it is best to wait before applying-because other government orders may eventually participate in the appropriation game. Although British Columbia, Quebec and Nova Scotia have already provided similar support, other regions may soon announce their own plans, which can be combined with federal plans.
At the same time, some municipal governments-including Edmonton with Toronto — Provide assistance for house renovations related to homeowners’ property taxes.This type of municipal plan is better known as Property assessment clean energy, Or PACE for short.
“Therefore, with the participation of the federal government, I hope that this grant can truly provide Canadians with a greater support system,” said Brendan Haley, policy director of the Canadian Efficiency Council.
At some point in the summer, the federal government is expected to introduce an interest-free renovation loan program that can provide up to $40,000 in loan funds for each family.
This is another possible reason for waiting. Family homes often require multiple contractors. Frappé-Sénéclauze said that as the demand for renovations increases, we may see more companies providing homeowners with one-stop or “turnkey” solutions.
What can people who are not eligible to participate in this program use?
Energy efficiency advocates say this is an obvious problem with the plan: It excludes renters and homeowners who cannot afford to pay the money up front.
“The policy gap is the lack of programs specifically targeting low-income Canadians,” Haley said.
A non-profit organization that works with multilingual and multicultural communities recommends that renters should upgrade to programmable or “smart” thermostats when possible, and plug any cracks in doors and windows that allow cold air to enter.
“Heating your space and heating your water are part of 60% of your bill,” said Yasmin Abraham, vice president and co-founder of Empower Me.
However, in the final analysis, the affordability of low-income families and renters is limited. Abraham called on the federal government to provide a plan to meet the needs of every Canadian family.
Have questions or tips about the federal grants program? Send us an email: Ask @cbc.ca