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Energy Efficiency Grants Available

Written by Posted On Tuesday, 09 September 2003 00:00

Ironically, two days before a massive power failure plunged eastern North America into darkness, the Canadian federal government announced, through it's Office of Energy Efficiency at Natural Resources Canada , that grants are available to homeowners who make energy efficiency upgrades to their homes.

The program benefits homes that were built before 1975 and that use substantial amounts of energy. New houses under construction are not eligible. Even houses built in the last few years usually qualify for only relatively small grant amounts since they are already quite efficient and the cost of retrofitting would be prohibitive. Where new homes today commonly receive EnerGuide for Houses ratings of between 70 and 74, older un-renovated homes built in the 1950s might score 40 on the scale and use two to three times as much energy.

This is part of the Government of Canada's action plan to improve energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. In the Government of Canada Action Plan 2000 on Climate Change, which outlines how Canada will meet its commitments under the Kyoto Protocol, a goal was set for energy efficiency retrofits of 20 percent of existing low-rise housing by 2010. Recently, the Government of Canada announced a grant program to encourage homeowners, particularly those who have older homes that are in need of energy efficiency upgrades, to retrofit their homes to make them more energy efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to climate change.

Only homeowners who have had the EnerGuide for Houses evaluation, have followed up on recommendations and had a post-retrofit evaluation will be eligible for a grant .

EnerGuide for Houses is a home evaluation service developed by the Government of Canada to help homeowners get expert advice about the energy efficiency of their homes. The evaluation service is delivered by independent, certified delivery agents across Canada. To contact an agent call 1-800-387-2000 and ask the operator for the name of an agent in your town, or go to the Office of Energy Efficiency website.

One Ontario homeowner, who was contemplating basement renovations, believes the recommended improvements from the evaluation will save about C$150 annually: "We toured the house feeling where the heat was being lost using a 'blower door' test that measures air leakage and shows where leaks occur. The advisor was experienced and he pointed out interesting things. I learned, for example, that cobwebs are a good indication that you have air leaks because spiders like to build webs where there is air. Dirty fibreglass insulation is also an indication that you've got leaks. The whole point of the evaluation was to pick up all these little points of information."

There is a cost for the EnerGuide for Houses service, which includes a pre-retrofit evaluation with blower door testing, a rating and recommendation report. The evaluation is valued at between C$225 and C$325, but Natural Resources Canada partially subsidizes the cost by $150 per house, which is paid directly to the agent. Delivery agents may also include the cost of the post-retrofit evaluation to assess rating improvements in the initial fee so ask questions and shop around.

To find out more about how the grant program will work, visit the Grant Questions and Answers page . Keep checking back for more information.

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