What is Canada Greener Homes and How Does it Work?
The Canada Greener Homes program was launched by the Federal Government in 2021. The program aims to help homeowners understand what can be done to make their homes more comfortable and efficient, and provide incentives to implement energy efficiency changes. First, you’ll work with energy advisors to get recommendations, then you’ll work with contractors like us to bring them to life.
Initially the program was just a rebate (or grant) up to $5,000 to support energy efficiency upgrades for homes across the country. For solar, it’s based on $1 per watt of DC system size (size of the PV array) up to a maximum of $5,000. So, if you install a 5kW array or larger (most of them are), you can qualify for the full rebate and expect $5,000 back for installing solar.
In 2022 the program expanded to include a 0% interest loan program (10 year loan, up to $40,000). This financing program was fantastic news and allowed more homeowners to improve their homes’ comfort and efficiency without self-financing the projects over the long term. You can now finance home efficiency and comfort upgrades through energy savings, a real game-changer for Canadians wanting to make improvements.
Free money from the Federal Government? Sounds too good to be true? Well, we’ve been working with our clients to navigate the program for nearly a year and have learned a lot. We’ve helped dozens of families navigate from start to finish through the process. This article will outline the Greener Homes program and how it works. Our next blog post will discuss lessons learned along the way, and advice we have for homeowners utilizing the program.
First, let’s dive into the nuts and bolts of how it all works.
Getting Started with Canada Greener Homes:
Whether you’re interested in the rebate or the loan, the process to get started is the same:
- Book a $199 Home Energy Assessment (HEA) with an approved service organization. You can find a list of them on the Efficiency NS website here. We’ve also put together a handy PDF that lists the companies with contact info – download that here.
- Once you’ve had your audit performed by an energy advisor, they’ll put together their report and send it along, usually within a few weeks. If you’re considering adding solar to your home, you should mention that to your advisor so that it’s included in the report.
- Review the report to find out what changes you can make to your home to improve its efficiency. Typically the report will list projects like topping up blown-in insulation in your attic, installing ductless heat pumps, air sealing, adding solar, etc. These efficiency measures listed are what you’re able to use the Canada Greener Homes Program for.
- Reach out to energy efficiency contractors (like us!) to get quotes on the upgrades you’d like to address. Note that you do not need to tackle the report items in any particular order. You can tackle them in a way that you want, choosing just a few or all of them as you see fit.
At this point, you are eligible for the $5,000 rebate. If you plan to apply for the interest-free loan, there are a few steps to take – more on this below.
Apply For Interest-Free Financing (if applicable)
If you plan to take advantage of the 0% interest Greener Homes Loan to finance your efficiency upgrades, there are a few steps to follow:
- Go to the Canada Greener Homes Loan online application portal. You can use this link.
- Upload the required documentation – includes:
- Drivers Licence or other form of Government ID
- Confirmation of income / employment
- Property tax statements
- Your finalized quotes you’d like to proceed with
- Note that at this stage you can request 15% of the overall project cost as an upfront payment. You can do so if that will help you cover the costs while you wait for your loan balance once the project is complete.
- Submit your loan application! Once you get confirmation let the contractors you are working with know so they can keep track of timelines on their end.
- Wait to hear back from Canada Greener Homes to find out the outcome of your application. This takes anywhere from 3-6 weeks, depending on the volume of applications at a given time.
- Let us know how you did!
At this point you’ll have been approved (or not) for financing. If approved, that’s great! You can now count on that money coming in to repay your out of pocket costs for your upgrade bills after the project is completed. You should still expect to go out of pocket for a few months, as the loan takes a long time to arrive after completion. More on this in our Lessons Learned article.
If you are not approved for the loan, you can still utilize other methods of financing to proceed with your solar project. Most of our HRM clients use the Solar City Program. You can learn more about Solar City here.
Next Steps: Install Your Upgrades and Get Your Money!
Now it’s time for the fun part! You’ll work with your preferred contractors to get the job done. With a bit of planning you can prepare to close out for your rebate and loan once the project is complete. Both the loan and rebate require a Post-Retrofit Assessment with your Energy Advisor once the job is done to start the ball rolling on releasing the funds.
Here’s how it typically works to get your system installed and close out the rebate and loan once it’s complete:
- We’ll prepare for your installation. This involves a lot of steps, including getting permits and approvals from the utility and building permits if required in your area, ordering your equipment, coming by for measurements to prepare for the installation, etc.
- Once we have your inspections booked with NS Power we’ll let you know so you can book your Post-Retrofit Assessment with your Home Energy Advisor right after the project is completed.
- We’ll install the system in coordination with your inspections and then commission after final inspection with NS Power – your system is now complete and up and running!
- Have your Post-Retrofit Assessment with your Home Energy Advisor to verify the work is complete. Your Home Energy Advisor will request a few documents like inspection reports, copies of your paid invoices, and maybe a few other particulars about the project. This is usually a 2 hour appointment on site.
- You’re done! You can now enjoy your solar energy production and watch the kWh roll in on the MySolarEdge Monitoring App. Your rebate and loan (if applicable) are now being processed.
We’re going to dive deep on this in the next article but remember that it takes a long time to get your money! Prepare to pay out of pocket for the loan balance for at least 2-3 months, and the rebate amount for 6-8 months.
To take advantage of the Canada Greener Homes Loan and Rebate Program, you need to follow this recipe:
- Book your Home Energy Assessment with a Home Energy Advisor
- Work with contractors like us to determine the cost and scope of your desired upgrades – if you haven’t already do so now!
- Use those quotes to apply for financing (if applicable)
- Schedule your work – you’ve got 12 months from the date of your original Assessment
- Book your Post-Retrofit Assessment with your Home Energy Advisor.
- Give them the info they need and wait for your money to come!
At Solar Ascent we’re here to help along the way! We’ve been through the process with dozens of families and are experts on navigating the process.
Ultimately we love the Canada Greener Homes program because it makes solar energy more attainable for more families in Nova Scotia. Keep an eye out for our next blog post where we’ll be digging into lessons learned from the Canada Greener Homes program!