Canadian homes need to become more efficient. The country has committed to having net-zero emissions by 2050 and, as a result, created the Canada Greener Homes Grant to help homeowners play their part. The grant is an “initiative across Canada and allows homeowners to seek upgrades in their homes, and when they are looking for specific upgrades, they will be able to get incentives based on those upgrades,” said Steve Ramoul, president of the Home Inspectors Group.
For homeowners starting the program, it starts by registering for the grant. The registration process has different eligibility requirements for each province. For example, the application process requires homeowners to prove they own a home and are the primary resident, except in Ontario. “The difference is Enbridge Gas co-manages the program in Ontario, and there is no registration process. All homeowners in Ontario are eligible for the program however homeowners that heat their homes with natural gas get additional incentives,” said Ramoul.
Once a homeowner completes the first steps of the registration, they will be set up with an energy advisor, who conducts an audit of the home. “The energy assessment will be in conjunction with the homeowner and will discuss what they are capable of receiving or able to receive an upgrade for. From there, the homeowner does the upgrades as required. Then they call back the energy advisor, and who does a final assessment to submit information to the government to receive incentives for those efforts. In some parts of the country, the homeowner may have to submit receipts for work completed in conjunction with the energy audit that was completed,” explains Ramoul.
The audit will provide homeowners with information on which upgrades would be most beneficial for the home at that time. The Canada Greener Homes Grant offers upgrades for the attic, flat roof, exterior wall and exposed floor insulation, air sealing, heat pumps, solar panels, smart thermostats and more. From there, it’s up to the contractor and homeowner to discuss which upgrade works best for the home.
Advice for contractors
While the program is geared toward homeowners receiving most of the information, the information process starts with the contractors. Ramoul does weekly training sessions for contractors on the Canada Greener Homes Grant at Nordics, a wholesaler of HVAC products, which has its head office in Vaughan, Ont. John Mcleod, territory sales manager at Nordics, mentions that he started hosting these training sessions for contractors to better understand the program, “The program is something that’s needed. We are heading in a greener direction; this program gets the ball rolling. But the program can be challenging to navigate. I kept hearing this, and even when I did my research on trying to use the program, I got confused at parts.” This is when MacLeod and Ramoul got in contact and wanted to help clear things up for people in the industry.
These sessions aim to make contractors feel more confident when discussing the program, rebates, and eligible products. “The biggest concern I’ve gotten from contractors is properly relaying the information to homeowners. Some contractors aren’t sure what qualifies and what doesn’t. For example, there is an eligibility list of products for the program. However, many contractors aren’t aware that a specific piece of equipment, like a heat pump, needs to match with a furnace. You can’t just install anything. You need to make sure it’s eligible,” explains Ramoul.
The Canada Greener Homes Grant also highlights that keeping up to date with the eligible products is of the utmost importance. “Contractors should always review the grant table, which includes eligible product lists, to help better inform themselves and their customers on eligible retrofits and their criteria. We also recommend that contractors visit our website regularly as the eligible product lists are updated quarterly.”
Getting contractors on board with what is eligible in the program is the first step, but the second is to understand the rebates. “Another big piece of information is the rebates. This is essentially the selling point as homeowners will be looking at how much the retrofit costs and what they will receive,” said McLeod.
The program offers rebates, but the rebates differ from each province and also by the upgrade. For example, in Ontario, the program is provided through Enbridge Gas, and “if you are an Enbridge Gas customer, you can receive an incentive of $10,000. If you aren’t, you will still receive incentives, but it will be $5,000,” explains Ramoul.
While sitting in on the training session, there were about 10 contractors in the room. When Ramoul asked the group how many had participated in the program and talked to homeowners, not one raised their hands. When Ramoul followed up and asked why, one contractor answered honestly, “I don’t want to give people the wrong information and be confused because even I’m a little confused. The other day, I was in a homeowner’s home, and she asked me about the program. I told her that in a day, I’d be able to answer her questions.” From there, Ramoul walked the contractors through some of the nuances discussed in this article and additional ones. One of the discussions Ramoul began with the group focused on how many heads are needed for a ductless heat pump. This question gave some conflicting responses. Ramoul answered, “There needs to be one head per floor, including the basement, except when the basement is shorter than 5 ft. 9-inches. It also needs to distribute heat throughout the whole home. However, it does not need to meet peak loads.”
Getting contractors comfortable with the information is a significant part in selling the program to homeowners, according to the program. “Contractors are more than welcome to copy and/or provide information and/or links from any initiative web pages to help guide homeowners to details on the Canada Greener Homes Initiative. They can also share the program’s contact information so that homeowners can get responses to questions that they are not comfortable answering.”
The newest stream of funding under the initiative, the OHPA Program, is now open for registration and provides grants of up to $10,000 up-front to help low- to median-income homeowners transition off oil heating and to electric cold climate air source heat pumps.