The federal government on Thursday launched a new program allowing Canadians grants of up to $5,600 in energy-saving home upgrades and evaluations.
The program, called Canada Greener Homes Grants, will be worth $2.6 billion over the next seven years. Homeowners would be allowed to get up to $5,000 for energy-efficient retrofits to their main homes, as well as another $600 to help with home energy evaluations.
The grants, announced by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Natural Resources Minister Seamus O’Regan Thursday, comes as part of the Liberal government’s agenda to tackle climate change.
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“Canadians are looking for ways to save money on their energy bills and do their part to fight climate change,” said O’Regan in a press release Thursday. “The Canada Greener Homes Grant is good for your wallet, good for the economy, and good for the planet.”
According to that statement, homeowners would be able to make improvements and upgrades including the replacement of windows and doors, sealing air leaks and adding insulation, as well as improving heating and cooling systems.
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The grants also cover the purchasing of renewable energy systems, such as solar panels.
Here’s how Canadian homeowners can take full advantage of the program.
Homeowners should first make sure they’re eligible for the program, having all the documents to prove homeownership on hand.
According to the federal government, only one homeowner per home would be able to register and would have to prove that the home is their “primary residence” through a government-issued ID or utility bill.
Other groups, like local Indigenous governments and housing management bodies partnering with Indigenous organizations, are also eligible for the program, and are allowed to register multiple homes.
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Eligible property types for the program include:
- Single and semi-detached houses
- Row housing
- All-season cottages
- Mobile homes on a permanent foundation
- Permanently-moored floating homes
- Residential portions of mixed use buildings
- Small multi-unit residential building, which must be three storeys or less and with a footprint no bigger than 600 m2.
If eligible, homeowners can now officially register for the program online or through a government phone number. Anyone registering for the program in Quebec and Nova Scotia need to apply directly through their province, while those in P.E.I. are encouraged to apply through theirs.
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Applicants now need to make sure a pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide evaluation gets completed — by an NRCan registered energy advisor — before and after they complete their retrofit upgrades. EnerGuide evaluations that were completed before December 1, 2020 will not be eligible for reimbursement.
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Earlier this week on Monday, O’Regan announced that the Liberal government was spending $10 million to recruit and train up to 2,000 people as energy advisors. According to the program, the evaluation would help homeowners choose which retrofits make the most sense for their home.
Registrants can pick from several organizations who have these advisers, based on their location, to complete their pre- and post-evaluations — ending up with an EnerGuide home rating, label and a report with recommendations for home energy improvement.
Picking your retrofits
According to the program, retrofits recommended by your energy adviser are the only ones eligible for reimbursement and a list should be included in your pre-evaluation.
Before picking which retrofits you purchase and install, there are several things should know.
All retrofits must be purchased in Canada, and online purchases are only eligible if they are located in Canada.
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Certain types of retrofits can only be reimbursed to a certain amount as well, and there are some that can only be installed by licensed professionals.
Heat pumps, water heaters, renewable energy — and furnaces and boilers in the case of homes located in Northern Canada — must be installed by those with a licence to do so, and can all be reimbursed at the maximum amount of $5,000.
Retrofits that are not mechanical or electrical and don’t need to be installed by licensed professionals include air sealing, insulation, windows and doors, thermostats and certain resiliency measures. All of these retrofits are eligible to be reimbursed at different values, with a full list available online here.
The program also warns to take your budget into consideration as well, and to make sure any contractors hired to install retrofits are fully licensed.
“As the homeowner, you are responsible for choosing products and materials and getting the necessary building and utility permits,” the program detailed.
“If a building permit is not required nor issued, you and your contractor are responsible for making sure all products, services and installations meet relevant building codes and standards.”
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Lastly, homeowners need to make sure they’re documenting all purchases and evaluations every step of the way. The program’s website said all invoices, receipts, proof of work and attestation forms need to be kept until March 31, 2028.
After completing your retrofits, applicants can now book their post-retrofit evaluation, and apply for a reimbursement online with proof of their evaluations, retrofit receipts and installation costs.
According to mortgage and home value expert Alex McFadyen, home renovations are at an “all-time high” and people should be incentivized to do such improvements.
“Depending on what rebates someone uses, they could easily add that back into the prepayment of the mortgage or invest that into something that will pay them a greater return,” McFadyen said in an email.
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