In our last post we provided an overview of what exactly is the Canada Greener Homes Loan and Grant program and how to navigate it. In todays post we’re sharing some key things we’ve learned from working with the Canada Greener Homes program for about a year. We’re breaking it down to 7 key things you need to know before moving forward with the Canada Greener Homes.
#1 – Greener Homes is Not Applicable to New Construction Projects
If you’re building new, it’s not for you. The idea of the program is to help make older houses more energy efficient through energy upgrades and retrofits. If you’re in the building process you cannot utilize Canada Greener Homes to add solar to your project. It’s required to have at least 6 months of occupancy before you can start the Canada Greener Homes approval process.
That being said there may be other rebates and loan products you can qualify for to add solar to your new build. Both the SolarHomes rebate from Efficiency NS and the Solar City financing program (for those in HRM) can apply to new construction projects.
#2 – Everyone is Approved for the $5,000 Grant
The $5,000 grant or rebate is easy to qualify for. Just get your Home Energy Assessment and choose a project on their report to tackle. As long as the equipment you’re installing meets the conditions of the grant, you’re all set. The $5,000 cheque for improving your homes efficiency will come in the mail at the end of the project, but it takes a while – more on that below.
#3 – Not Everyone is Approved for the $40,000 Interest Free Loan
Unlike the grant, the loan is a bit tougher to get approved for. Like any bank loan, the creditor wants to see your employment history and income to insure you can cover the cost of servicing your loan. While it seems like most people qualify for the loan, those who are self-employed may run into challenges – especially those who pay themselves through dividends. Keep in mind that the loan is not a sure thing. You can use the Solar City program as a backup option if you don’t get approved.
#4 – The Loan is Not All or Nothing
You may get approved for the loan, but not for the full amount. As mentioned above, the loan is like any other bank loan. If your income history doesn’t work for the full amount you may only qualify for the portion. Some of our clients have applied for the full $40,000 but only qualify for $25,000. Again, this is just another reason to have a backup plan for financing in case you can only finance a portion interest-free.
#5 – Your Home Energy Advisor is Your Best Friend
The Canada Greener Homes program is largely administered by the Home Energy Advisors. They’ll work with you at the beginning to provide a list of eligible upgrades to make and they’ll be back after the upgrades to verify it’s all completed to close out for the funds. Having an open line of communication with your Advisor will ensure that nothing falls through the cracks and you can navigate the process efficiently. The Home Energy Advisors are the gatekeepers to the Canada Greener Homes funds, so make sure you’re in touch regularly regarding your file.
They’re also extremely busy! The Canada Greener Homes Loan is an extremely popular program and the service providers are trying to grow to meet demand. Be patient but keep in contact to make sure your file stays near the top of the pile.
#6 – Expect Delays
Both the loan and the rebate take time to get disbursed at the end of the project. A long time. The rebate will take 6-8 months to get mailed to you after project close out. The loan is also taking a very long time to be paid out after a project is complete (over 3 months). You’ll need to plan to go out of pocket for the upgrade costs until the funds arrive. If you don’t have access to the capital to do so, you’ll want to consider a bridge loan. Talk to your contractor(s) well ahead of time if you’re dependent on Greener Homes to pay your bills so you can come up with a plan. Most small businesses cannot go that length of time without payment.
#7 – It’s Worth It
Solar energy presents a logical investment from every angle. With the consistent presence of sunlight and the perpetual rise in utility rates, you can anticipate saving tens of thousands of dollars on average throughout the system’s lifespan. Combining these long-term financial benefits with the option of an interest-free loan, you gain an even greater advantage.
While the Canada Greener Homes Loan and Rebate program may bring its fair share of challenges, such as glitchy web portals, communication difficulties, multiple parties involved, and the potential need for bridge financing, the ultimate outcome justifies the endeavour. Your end goal is a top-notch solar energy system that will prove to be immensely cost-effective, paying for itself several times over.
Time to get started on the path of producing your own solar energy? Fill out our quick webform and we’ll take it from there.