A federal program offering Canadians cash to make their homes “greener” and more energy-efficient has left some frustrated and confused.
The Canada Greener Home Grant officially launched at the end of May. It provides Canadian homeowners with grants of up to $5,600 in energy-saving upgrades and evaluations.
Stephen Farrell, with VerdaTech Energy Management and Consulting and energyexperts.ca, said he has some concerns with the program’s rollout.
“I fully do believe this should have been better communicated,” he said.
“What’s included, what’s not included, so people don’t go in thinking that they’re going to get these $5,000 grants.”
Two items often requested, according to Farrell, are furnaces and hot water tanks. He says neither are eligible.
“There are no fossil fuel burning appliances included in this grant program,” he added. “The program is not fair to Alberta.”
Farrell said it’s especially frustrating considering fossil fuels are the primary heating source in many places in Canada and both operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions are dramatically improved by installing a high-efficiency gas-fired furnace.
Farrell added consumers have been calling for these types of retrofits only to find out they are not covered and in some cases the homeowner has had to pay the cost of the assessment.
“They only get paid, reimbursed part of the cost of the assessment, if they do one of the eligible upgrades.
“Again, a furnace is not one of the eligible upgrades.”
Canadian homeowners are able to access the grant to make improvements and upgrades to their windows and doors. The money can also be used to seal air leaks and add insulation, as well as improve heating and cooling systems.
Also on the list, the purchase of renewable energy systems, such as solar panels.
Ben Waddington and Jessica DeVreeze of Calgary have signed up for a few of the retrofits.
“We have a house built in 1965 with original windows and not much better than original siding and insulation,” Waddington told Global News.
“It’s $5,000 off the price,” DeVreeze said. “It’s a pretty good deal for us.”
The couple admits the website was not as clear as it could have been, but added the program will pay off for them in the long run.
“Our current utility bills run at around $6,000 a year for our very small house,” Waddington said. “With new windows and new insulation, my expectation is that will probably drop by half.”
“I’m really excited to have reduced energy bills.”
Global News reached out to Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) with some of the concerns expressed to us.
In a statement we were told: “The program’s incentives reflect the latest building science and are designed to incentivize the highest energy savings.”
“For example, there are approximately 1,200,000 households in Canada who could install a heat pump and get their money back in under five years through the savings on energy bills.
“This program’s incentives reduce that payback period, and households across Alberta and Saskatchewan are eligible.”
Officials also said they worked closely with businesses and organizations in the home evaluation industry throughout the development of the program, which was announced back in November.
Farrell argued it may have been announced months ago, but companies in charge of advising homeowners and assessing properties only found out the exact date a few weeks ago.
“We had no notification,” he said. “We have not had the opportunity to grow the number of advisors or grow the ability to provide the service.”
VerdaTech is now doing some accelerated training so it can meet the demand from the public, but added appointments are being booked three to four months out.
Farrel’s advice to consumers: “Do your due diligence. Make sure it’s right for you.”