Home Energy Conservation Program
Although renewable energy sources currently only account for 17% of Canada’s total primary energy supply, the country is taking legislative measures to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and keep up with the shift towards green energy. At a commercial level, the wind and solar energy fields are reporting the fastest growth rates, mainly in Ontario and Nova Scotia.
At the same time, the residential sector is not lagging behind, and public and private authorities are releasing initiative after initiative in an effort to raise awareness on the benefits of sustainable living and encourage homeowners to upgrade their homes with modern, comfort-enhancing features.
The latest program that deserves a mention is the Enbridge Gas Home Energy Conservation Program (HEC), founded by Enbridge Gas Distribution, Canada’s largest natural gas distribution company and the largest provider of energy conservation programs in the country. As part of this program, eligible homeowners can receive up to $5,000 back in available incentives if they conduct a home energy assessment and then complete at least two home upgrades.
Although the main benefits to be gained from taking part in the program are energy efficiency and lower utility bills, founders are also trying to promote the positive impacts that sustainable home improvements have on the environment.
HEC eligibility criteria
To qualify for the incentives, participants must meet the following eligibility criteria:
- Applicants must live in a detached house, semi-detached house, or row townhouse heated by natural gas and located in an area covered by Enbridge Delivery.
- They have to conduct an energy audit before making the home improvements to find out the biggest energy faults on the property, and then a second energy audit once the improvements have been made. Both audits must be completed by a Registered Energy Advisor that has registered to take part in this program.
- Homeowners must conduct a minimum of two home upgrades once the energy audit has been carried out. The Home Energy Conservation Program covers a wide range of upgrades, such as basement insulation, exterior wall insulation, attic insulation, air sealing, window & door replacement, water heater replacement.
- The amount that homeowners receive depends on the R-value of the home improvement. For example, for a minimum of R24 insulation to 100% of a floor above a crawl space, they can receive up to $450, but adding at least R3.8 insulation to the exterior walls unlocks a $1,000 incentive.
Ever since it was launched, the HEC program has become quite popular, allowing homeowners to make their homes greener and more energy-efficient, while at the same time helping the environment. However, this is just one of the many programs that Canadians have to choose from.
Two other notable examples include the Union Gas: Home Reno Rebate Program and the City of Toronto: The Home Energy Loan Program (HELP).
The benefits of home reno rebate programs
The Enbridge Gas Home Energy Conservation Program and the many other residential home rebate programs initiated in the past years were largely met with success, mainly because they are making huge contributions to reducing Canada’s residential carbon footprint, which has been steadily decreasing since 2004, as a result of an increase in efficiency. A 2017 analysis revealed that residential GHG emissions account for 4% of Canada’s total greenhouse gas.
And secondly, such incentives are welcome by homeowners, who can enhance their living conditions by adding eco-friendly upgrades to their homes. Insulation, which is the main upgrade for which Canadians apply for these programs, is an all-around money saver, offering a whopping 117% return on investment, excluding the rebates.
This means that homeowners can save on an annual average of 15% on heating and cooling costs by sealing the walls, attics, basements and crawl spaces, but the savings can be even higher for old homes, which oftentimes come with massive structural flaws.
From a medical perspective, the existence of home rebate programs should also be praised, because structural flaws such as outdated insulation lead to damage that will ultimately affect the health and comfort of the inhabitants.
For example, lack of insulation makes heat exchange possible and the difference in temperature causes humidity around window and door frames. Not only does this force HVAC units to compensate, but also causes mold and mildew, which, in the long run, increase the risk of respiratory conditions such as asthma and allergies.
For the following years, Canada’s sustainable energy goals focus on the clean energy transition, By 2023, Canada plans to grow the low-carbon goods and services market, increase the number of electric vehicles and, at an industrial scale, accelerate the transition towards clean energy solutions.