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Cash up front to go green with home heating

WEST COAST — The rising cost of living has been an unwelcome fact for residents who are finding it increasingly difficult to not only to keep food on their tables and gas in their vehicles, but to keep the heat on in their homes. Prices for home heating oil have skyrocketed, meaning a tank of furnace oil that used to cost $900 has now more than doubled.

For those households that rely on oil as their primary source of heat, now that winter has arrived, they could find it unaffordable, particularly those on fixed incomes.

As a way to assist households with the costly process of switching from oil to electric heat, or for installing a heat pump, the provincial government announced an Oil to Electric Rebate Program where individuals and families who qualify can receive a rebate of up to $5,000 to make the switch. As well, the Canada Greener Homes Initiative (CGHI) offers grants of up to $5,000 for home retrofits to help assist with costs to make homes more energy efficient.

The funding assistance doesn’t stop there, as on Nov. 21, the Government of Canada announced an additional $250 million investment to the Oil to Heat Pump Affordability (OHPA) Grant to add to the existing Canada Greener Homes Initiative.

“This program will help tens of thousands of households move to affordable, reliable electric heat pumps instead of expensive home heating oil. The OHPA Grant builds on $250 million announced in September 2022, by Minister Guilbeault to make home heating more affordable – and cut pollution – by helping households move to electric heat pumps.

“While national in scope, the OHPA Grant’s design reflects the fact that a higher proportion of Atlantic Canadians use oil as their primary source of heat. Today’s announcement is another way that the Government of Canada is following through on its commitment to deliver practical solutions on home heating, especially for Atlantic Canadians, while fighting climate change.”

Gudie Hutchings, Minister of Rural Economic Development, said the OHPA Grant will focus on those households that need it the most.

“This is geared at people who are finding things tough. Once you show that oil is your primary heat, that it’s your primary residence – you’re not a renter – you go to your electrician or whoever you go to, get a quote for how much it is going to be. Then we will give you $5,000 up front, and then the department this is rolling out through, Natural Resources, they will do some checks after to make sure it is done and installed, but we want to get the money in people’s hands at the beginning so it’s not coming out of pocket,” said Hutchings. ““You could qualify for $10,000, plus we have another Canada Green Homes Initiatives. Just because you’ve applied for one – maybe you applied to put new windows in or upgrade your door – this is addition to anything. It’s expanding the Greener Homes Initiative.”

The funding initiative is slated to begin in early 2023.

“They’re saying the portal will open the first part of January, and they’re saying if you tick all the boxes, the grant will come to you in a matter of weeks,” said Hutchings. “I would say that, if you apply in January, you will have the money in your pocket in February.”

Accompanying documents will have to be submitted to qualify.

“Basically, you have to prove that oil was your primary source of heat, so you have to have your oil bills for the year, and it has to be your primary residence. You can get a quote from a heat pump supplier or installer. You may have to do electrical upgrades to put in a heat pump, or maybe you have to do a safe removal of your oil tank. All that would be covered, and once you show the invoices for that, we will give you a grant for $5,000,” said Hutchings. “The other goods news is you can stack that. I know the provincial government has a program too, and you can stack it with the provincial government program.”

Many homeowners on the Southwest Coast lost everything during Fiona, which undoubtedly includes records that are deemed necessary to apply for the front, but Hutchings said there is a workaround for that.

“I’m sure they could go to whoever they have an account with that can say they were on oil heat,” said Hutchings. “We know that people lost everything. They don’t have their paperwork, but the company would have a record of it.”

The potential savings for a home throughout the year may prove significant.

“We know that everybody’s heating costs vary. Depends on insulation, the build of your home, and all of that. We’re saying people can save anywhere from $1,000 to $5,000 a year,” said Hutchings. “We all know what we saw with Hurricane Fiona. We all have to do our part to make a difference on what we’re doing in the environment for climate change, and this enables everybody to participate. If you don’t have the money up front to do this, now we will help you get the money to do these things, because we all have to make a difference on climate change, we all have to do our part.”

To date, the CGHI has issued close to $106 million in grants to almost 28,000 homeowners, and if you are one of those homeowners who has already installed a heat pump through that initiative, if your costs totaled an amount over $5,000, you can use this new funding to cover the remainder.

“Say your bills were $7,200. You would now be able to have that $2,200 covered,” said Hutchings.

The difficulties many had navigating the last rebate program shouldn’t be an issue this time around either.

“We know the other one we had out was a bit challenging, but this one is much easier and that was the whole focus of this, to make sure it is easier for people to avail of and to give them the money up front.”

Hutchings noted that the installation of a heat pump is something that will help you in every season, not just the colder months.

“The world is changing, the climate is changing, and these heat pumps also give you cooling in the summer,” said Hutchings. “I built my home 15 years ago and I remember a fellow saying I should put in some air conditioning, and I said, ‘air conditioning, don’t be so foolish,’ but I tell you, I wish I did now. These heat pumps give you cooling in the summer months and, as we are seeing with climate change, the summer months are getting hotter, so this will also give you cool air.”

Source : Yahoo