Home Energy Audits: Government Rebates to Fix up your Home

It’s a win-win situation: renovate your home, improve energy efficiency, lower your monthly bills and get up to $5,000 back in an ecoENERGY grant to pay for a portion of it. That’s exactly what the Government of Canada is offering through the ecoENERGY Home Retrofit Program, which was extended June, 6 2011.

In order to qualify for rebates, homeowners must contact a local energy advisor to book their home energy audit. These can be found by calling Service Canada (1-800-622-6232) or conducting a quick Internet search for energy auditors in your area. HomePerformance, for instance, provides energy audits in British Columbia and Ontario while Alberta Energy Audit provides eco-energy evaluations for both residential and commercial properties located in Calgary.

The cost of an energy audit runs around the $400 mark for the pre and post-retrofit visits combined, but in most locales the government will grant around $150 in rebates back toward this fee.

Depending on your location, you may also be eligible to receive additional funds through complimentary regional programs. If you live in BC, for example, the Government of British Columbia offers an additional $7,000 per household to compensate eligible home energy renovations through the LiveSmart BC Efficiency Incentive Program.

How to Take Part in the ecoENERGY Retrofit Program

  1. New and returning program participants must first obtain a registration number through Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN).
  2. Book your home audit through a local energy adviser licensed by NRCAN.
  3. The audit will provide you a full examination of your home – from attic to basement – assessing its overall energy efficiency. Items such as energy leaks, safety concerns and unhealthy conditions will be tested for. Based on any energy defincient findings, the advisor will generate a list of recommended improvements that would improve the energy efficiency, environmental sustainability and comfort of your home as well as an EnerGuide Rating.
  4. Check for compatible and relevant regional programs in your area that could up your grant limit.
  5. Select recommended energy upgrades to be completed on your home based on the rebates available and listed in the ecoENERGY Retrofit Grant Table. For example, if you were recommended to replace your heating system, doing so with an ENERGY STAR qualified oil boiler that has an 85 per cent AFUE or higher would grant you a $750 rebate for the first program retrofit of such in a single-family home.
  6. Keep all of your receipts, take pictures of work that could be difficult to verify, or use the optional Homeowner Record of Upgrades provided by NRCAN to track your improvements.
  7. Contact your local energy advisor to conduct a post-retrofit audit. You must complete retrofits, obtain a post-retrofit evaluation and sign a program Application Form no later than March 31, 2012. NRCAN will not grant extensions.
  8. In most cases your energy retrofits will be evaluated and your rebates issued within 90 days following the receipt of your application, though this is not guaranteed. In addition, NRCAN may forward your file to relevant complementary regional programs so that you may receive the additional grant funds offered through these.

Remember that in the eyes of NRCAN it is your responsibly to keep track of your receipts, to research what kind of upgrades are eligible for what sums of grant funds, and to ensure your retrofits are completed within guidelines specified in the Grant Table. Having an energy audit conducted does not obligate you to go through with any renovations. In fact, you may just want to conduct one to have that EnerGuide rating on hand for the day you decide to sell, or to give you ideas on projects you could complete to improve energy efficiency in the future.

If the renovations suggested in an audit do not fit within your budget, low-income homeowners may consider applying for the Homeowner Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (Homeowner RRAP) available through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC), rather than completing renovations through the ecoENERGY Retrofit Program. Based on your annual income, the value of your home and your location, you could be eligible to receive financial assistance for upcoming necessary repairs.

For more information on the ecoENERGY Retrofit Program visit the NRCAN links embedded above, or get in contact with your local energy adviser.

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