City of Edmonton offering rebates for green home improvements

From buying new windows, to replacing a hot water tank or purchasing solar panels, the City of Edmonton is looking to make green home improvements more affordable.

The Home Energy Retrofit Accelerator launched Monday. It will provide up to $600,000 a year in rebates to homeowners who make renovations that increase the energy efficiency of their house.

The city says the average household could receive around $1,500 in rebates.

“Rebates are available for a number of energy retrofits, including Energuide evaluations insulation upgrades, air ceiling improvements, window upgrades, water heating upgrades, space heating upgrades and net zero retrofits,” explained Lisa Dockman, an energy transition project manager.

READ MORE: Alberta government officially ends agency created to handle green rebates and programs

After the UCP scrapped Energy Efficiency Alberta back in 2019, provincial financial incentives to make energy efficient upgrades disappeared.

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“This was very clearly a response to the province backing off these incentives to achieve the GHG reduction goals over the last couple of years,” explained Mayor Don Iveson.

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In August 2019, city council declared a climate emergency and the city has made commitments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 50 per cent by 2030.

“The residential building sector accounts for 19 per cent of Edmonton’s greenhouse gas emissions,” Dockman said.

“By lowering the costs of home energy retrofits, the program will make energy efficiency more accessible to a larger number of Edmontonians,” explained Stephanie McCabe, the deputy city manager of urban form and corporate strategic development.

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Chief Economist with Alberta Central, Charles St-Arnaud, said the biggest winners with the program are homeowners.

“Reducing your heating costs, cooling costs, that will amount to some savings over time. Especially when we know at the federal level a decision was made that they will raise the carbon tax in the coming years,” he explained.

But Iveson said it’s not just about the environment; it’s also about stimulating the economy.

“The renovators, the builders, the tradespeople, the energy efficiency experts out there in the community – job creation for them is one of the key things that our community needs to rebound.”

Dockman said last time the city ran a home energy program — through the now defunct Energy Efficiency Alberta — it was very successful, with Edmontonians spending about $15 million on renovations.

READ MORE: Federal funding will retrofit 100 Edmonton buildings to be more energy efficient

“In the city of Edmonton, home renovations account for more than 10,000 jobs, representing $724 million in wages and 1.2 billion in investments,” explained Sydney Bond, the Edmonton region president for the Canadian Homebuilders Association.

She represents more than 460 local residential construction companies.

“A typical newly built home today is 47 per cent more energy efficient than a home built in 1985. With half of Canada’s existing housing stock being built before 1985, the greatest opportunity to improve energy efficiency lies in energy retrofits,” Bond said.

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The program has a $600,000 budget each year for the next three years and is open to owners of detached houses, semi-detached houses, townhouses and mobile homes.

For homeowners to get enrolled, they first need to get an EnerGuide home energy evaluation, then they have 18 months to complete the upgrades and apply for rebates.

“Homeowners who complete three or more upgrades may be eligible for a 20 per cent bonus rebate on all retrofits completed,” Dockman explained.

Rebates will be awarded on a first come, first served basis, and the mayor said if the money is all used up, council will consider additional supports.

It’s estimated with the current funding, 400 households will be able to take part annually.

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