WHAT IS GREENER HOMES GRANT?: AN OVERVIEW
The Canada Greener Homes Grant is an exciting new initiative from the Canadian government. The Canadian government acknowledges that “18% of greenhouse gas emissions come from buildings, including homes”, so they have created a grant to help homeowners make their homes more affordable to maintain, while also creating a ‘cleaner, greener’ Canada.
By ‘going greener’, homeowners can save money in utilities, while also reducing their carbon footprint. But ‘going greener’ comes with costs; retrofitting a home can be expensive. So the Canadian government is helping Canadians offset the costs of retrofitting their homes by offering reimbursements to Canadians who qualify for the grant.
Under the Canada Greener Homes Grant, Canadian homeowners can claim up to $5600 to help offset the costs of their retrofits. There are up to 700 000 grants available, and they are available to (almost) any homeowner in Canada who wants to create a more energy-efficient home by way of retrofits.
To receive the grant, homeowners must:
- Have an eligible property type
- Have two EnerGuide evaluations done
- Complete at least ONE eligible retrofit
- Submit all required documents
In this article, we will take a look at each requirement in more detail, but before we do, let’s look at the grant itself.
UNDERSTANDING THE GRANT
As mentioned, the grant is an initiative by the Canadian government to help Canadian homeowners create ‘greener, more energy efficient homes.’ The Canadian government wants Canadians to ‘go green’, and they are helping Canadians do this by offering them reimbursements.
The first important aspect of the grant is that it is a REIMBURSEMENT. While the grant is a fantastic way to help homeowners offset retrofit costs for their homes, homeowners will have to cover the costs of their retrofits upfront, and then seek reimbursement AFTER the renovations are complete.
Another important aspect of the grant is flexibility of choice. Not every home is the same, just as not every homeowner has the same goals when it comes to retrofitting. The best retrofit for each home is a personal decision. Things like location, current conditions of a home, personal budgets and personal goals can all factor in a homeowner’s choices. So, the Canadian government has given Canadian homeowners the freedom to choose which types of retrofits they feel are best for them.
And the final important aspect of the grant are the requirements. To receive the Canada Greener Homes Grant, Canadian Homeowners must fulfil FOUR requirements. The four requirements are:
- OWNING AN ELIGIBLE HOME
- TWO RETROFIT ENERGUIDE EVALUATIONS
- COMPLETING AT LEAST ONE ELIGIBLE RETROFIT TO THE HOME
- SUBMITTING ALL REQUIRED DOCUMENTS
Homeowners who meet all the eligibility requirements should have no problems receiving the Canada Greener Homes Grant. So, now that we understand the grant better, let’s take a look at the first requirement.
REQUIRMENT #1: OWNING AN ELIGIBLE HOME
To be eligible, you must own your home, and the property must be your permanent residence. You will be required to provide proof of ownership with your property tax bill. You will also be required to prove that your home is your primary residence by providing a driver’s license with the address of the home. A government-issued ID, or a utility bill with your address will also work in lieu of a driver’s license.
Location is not important – anyone in Canada can apply! The grant was created to help the majority of Canadians, so whether you live in a city, a small town, or a remote location, the grant is available to you.
Eligibility includes a wide variety of property types. Single and semi-detached homes, row housing, and townhomes are all eligible. But because the Canada Greener Home Grant is comprehensive and aimed towards helping ALL Canadians create greener homes, it also includes alternative property types. Both mobile homes that are on a permanent foundations, as well as floating homes that are permanently moored are eligible. As are low-rise multi-unit residential buildings that are three storeys or less, and that have a maximum footprint of 600 square meters.
The initiative does NOT include new homes, or multi-unit residential buildings that are either more than three storeys, or that have a footprint greater than 600 square meters. New homes are defined as: ‘homes that are six months old or less, based on the date of occupancy by the first homeowner.
Now that you’ve established that your home is, in fact, eligible, let’s take a look at the second grant requirement, the EnerGuide Evaluations.
REQUIREMENT #2 – THE ENERGUIDE EVALUATIONS
There are two EnerGuide Evaluations that MUST be completed to receive the grant. The first is the Pre-evaluation, which is done prior to the retrofit, and the second is the Post-evaluation, which is done after the retrofit.
Retrofitting a home can be an overwhelming process. Many Canadian homeowners want to go greener and want to have more energy efficient homes, but they don’t know where to start. How does a homeowner know which retrofits should be done? Or which retrofits will be the most beneficial?
To help Canadians make the best choices for their homes when it comes to energy-efficiency, the Canadian government is requiring EnerGuide Evaluations for any homeowner owner who wants to receive the grant. The pre-evaluation is to help Canadians understand the needs of their home, and to help them make the very best decisions. The post evaluation is to ensure that homeowners have completed at least ONE eligible retrofit.
HOW DOES IT WORK?
An EnerGuide advisor will be assigned to you once you register for the grant. The EnerGuide advisor will do a pre-evaluation of your home, and will give you a detailed report. This report will lay out all the suggested retrofits for your home. Homeowners do NOT have to complete all the retrofits on the report. To receive the grant, homeowners only have to complete ONE retrofit from the report. Once the retrofits are complete, the EnerGuide will conduct another evaluation. This is your post retrofit evaluation to ensure that you have followed through with at least one retrofit.
The EnerGuide advisor is there to help you make the best decisions for your home by offering professional advice. EnerGuide advisors are extremely knowledgeable in all things ‘energy’, so their expertise ensures that homeowners aren’t ‘flying blind’ when it comes to energy-efficient retrofits. The EnerGuide advisors are a valuable resource in the retrofit process, as well as a mandatory one.
Once you have completed the retrofits, you can claim up to $600 to help recoup the costs of your EnerGuide evaluations. This $600 is in addition to the $5000 for the direct costs of the retrofits. So, the government has made these evaluations mandatory under the grant, but the government has also allocated funds to help you cover the costs of these mandatory evaluations, as long as they evaluations fall within the timeframes listed below.
*Timing matters when it comes to what your EnerGuide Evaluation reimbursements (the $600 portion of the grant.) You can use this quick check list to see if your evaluations are eligible for reimbursement.
Reimbursement for EnerGuide evaluation cost.
• BEFORE APRIL 1, 2020. Any EnerGuide Evaluations conducted before April 1, 2020 are considered obsolete under this grant, so you will need to have a new EnerGuide evaluation conducted.
• April 1, 2020-November 30, 2020. If you had an EnerGuide Evaluation done between these dates, you can still apply for the Canada Greener Home Grant and receive reimbursement for the retrofits, as long as the retrofits were started AFTER December 1, 2020. You CANNOT, however, receive the $600 reimbursement for the EnerGuide Evaluation costs.
• After December 1, 2020. EnerGuide Evaluations that were done after December 1, 2020 are eligible for the $600 EnerGuide Evaluation portion of the grant.
THE RENOVATION UPGRADE REPORT
The Renovation Upgrade Report is an important document provided by your EnerGuide advisor. The report lists all the recommended retrofits. It is up to the homeowner to decide which retrofits they want to undertake. Recommendations are based on a number of factors, and are prioritized according to what is best for the overall home.
It is important to remember, though, that all of the recommendations are just that – they are only recommendations. You DO NOT have to complete all the recommendations on the report. As a homeowner, YOU get to decide which retrofits you want to undertake. The Renovations Upgrade Report simply offers you a number of retrofits that would be beneficial to your home. You only need to complete ONE retrofit from the report to be eligible for the grant.
So which retrofits are eligible? The next requirement outlines the types of retrofits that are eligible.
REQUIREMENT #3 – COMPLETING AT LEAST ONE ELIGIBLE RETROFIT
The most important part of the grant is (obviously) the ACTUAL retrofits. The grant is an INTITIATIVE – the government wants Canadians to go green – so to fully understand the grant it is paramount to understand the different types of retrofits that are eligible under the grant.
When it comes to retrofits, not all retrofits are created equal under the grant. Since the purpose of the Canada Greener Homes Grant is to help Canadians create more energy-efficient homes through retrofitting, not all retrofits qualify for the grant. Only retrofits that help a home become greener and more energy efficient qualify.
So, to receive the grant, it is important to understand what types of retrofits are eligible under the program. Remember, the grant comes in the form of a reimbursement, so before you begin your retrofits, you MUST ensure that your retrofits fall under the list of eligible retrofits.
There are a LOT of retrofits that qualify, with a LOT of information about exact reimbursement maximums for each on the government website. Your EnerGuide advisor can also give you more details about each type of retrofit. But here is an overview of the Eligible Retrofits and the approximate amount of reimbursement offered for each.
Home Insulation: Under the Canada Greener Homeowner Grant, homeowners can increase the insulation in their homes. If you choose to increase the insulation in your home, you can be reimbursed to a maximum of $5000. This improves energy use and helps homeowners save money on utilities by slowing the rate of heat loss in a home. Common areas that can benefit from increased insulation are attics, basements, exposed floors, open foundations, crawl spaces, and exterior walls.
Air Sealing: ‘Airtightness’ is considered to be the single most important retrofit a homeowner can undertake. In fact, it is first strategy in any retrofitting evaluation, so don’t be surprised if ‘air sealing’ shows up on your Renovation Report. Air sealing will help reduce the air leaving your home, and retrofits that involve air sealing are eligible for up to $5000 in reimbursement under the grant.
Thermostats: If a homeowner elects to install a smart thermostat, they can receive a $50 reimbursement. Smart thermostats allow homeowners to schedule temperatures with their programmable options. However, it’s important to note that this retrofit MUST BE combined with another retrofit; simply replacing thermostats will not make you eligible for the grant.
Space and Water Heating: Canada has a cold climate, so retrofitting a home with cold-climate heat pumps is an eligible retrofit under the grant. There is up to $5000 in reimbursement for upgrading a home’s heating equipment to more energy efficient equipment, should a homeowner choose this type of retrofit.
Windows and Doors: Retrofitting your home with energy efficient, ENERGY STAR certified windows can help you save money in utilities. Homeowners can receive up to $5000 in reimbursements to swap out old windows with new, more efficient ones.
Renewable Energy: This retrofit involves installing photovoltaic solar panels that convert sunlight energy into electricity, and homeowners can receive up to $5000 in reimbursement for the purchase and installation of these panels.
Resiliency Measures: Homeowners can receive up to $2625 in reimbursement for retrofitting their homes with measures that help protect their home from environmental factors that come from climate change. This type of retrofit is specific to where you live, and your EnerGuide advisor will guide recommendations for your home based on the environmental factors in your area. For example, if you live somewhere prone to flooding, you might want to undertake foundation water-proofing or moisture-proofing in basements and crawlspaces. Fires and wind are other environmental factors to consider. This retrofit is not a stand-alone one; it MUST be combined with another ENERGY EFFICIENCY retrofit to be eligible for reimbursement.
Remember, the MAXIUM grant amount is $5000, so if you undertake several of these retrofits, you cannot be reimbursed for all of them. This is why the grant only requires homeowners to complete ONE eligible retrofit. Homeowners are allowed to CHOOSE which retrofits they want to complete, based on what is most important to them.
For example, a homeowner on the West Coast of BC may prioritize Resiliency Measures over Home Insulation, since the West Coast has a very wet environment that is prone to flooding. A homeowner on the East Coast, though, might prioritize Home Insulation since the East Coast has some pretty cold winters. Remember, the Renovation Report simply lists all the things you COULD do to make your house greener; what you CHOOSE to do is up to you, as long as you do at least ONE retrofit that is both listed on your report, and eligible.
Once you have chosen an eligible retrofit, you MUST complete it. This is where that second EnerGuide evaluation comes in – the post retrofit evaluation is to ensure that you have completed at least one retrofit.
Completing at least ONE eligible retrofit is a requirement of the grant, so ensure you meet this requirement by getting your chosen retrofit done! Once the retrofit is done, and has been verified by your EnerGuide advisor, you are ready for the final requirement of the grant.
REQURIEMENT #4: SUBMIT ALL DOCUMENTS
Reimbursement only happens AFTER the retrofits are complete and the post-retrofit evaluation has been completed by the EnerGuide advisor. To receive reimbursement, applicants must submit all the required documents.
Here is a list of documents you will need to submit to receive the grant.
RECEIPTS: Keep all your receipts during the retrofitting process. This includes the receipts from you EnerGuide advisor, receipts from all purchases made for materials, and receipts from your licensed professionals. If you are unsure of whether or not you should keep a specific receipt – KEEP IT. When it comes time to apply for reimbursement, it is far better to submit too many receipts, (or receipts that aren’t needed) than it is to not have the receipts that you need.
*** Also, anything you purchase for your retrofit MUST be purchased in Canada. If you order something online, it must be from an online distributor WITHIN Canada.
PROOF OF LISCENCING: For any licenced professional, it is also HIGHLY recommended that homeowners receive ‘proof of their license to install equipment in your province or territory.’ When you hire a professional to instal the retrofit, ask for a copy of their professional license. Keep these copies with your receipts.
YOUR PRE AND POST ENERGUIDE EVALUATION: It’s currently unclear as to whether or not you will need to submit this, or whether or not your EnerGuide does this for you, so it’s probably best to err on the side of caution and to keep everything your EnerGuide gives you. This includes receipts for their evaluations, the Renovations Guide Report, and any other document they give you.
PROOF OF PRIMARY RESIDENCE: You will need to provide a copy of your most recent property tax assessment, as well as a government-issued ID that has the address of your home (the home you are retrofitting) on it.
***The eligibility requirements also state that: You MUST keep copies of all your documents and receipts until March 31, 2028! So keep copies of everything, and put them away in a safe place.
Tips For Applications
Here are some tips to help you be success in your grant application for the Canada Greener Home Grant.
- MAKE SURE YOUR HOME IS ELIGIBLE BEFORE YOU BEGIN
- Before applying, ensure that your property type meets the eligibility requirements. Your home cannot be newer than six months old.
- BOOK YOUR ENERGUIDE EVALUATION.
- You CANNOT receive the grant if you do not have an EnerGuide Evaluation done. Furthermore, to be eligible for the $600 portion of the grant that reimburses costs for your evaluation, the evaluation must be done after December 1, 2020. So, make sure you have the right timelines!
- REVIEW THE RENOVATION UPGRADE REPORT
- Review the report given to you by your EnerGuide advisor. Decide which retrofits you want to make. Consider things like your budget and your overall goals for the retrofits (reducing utility costs, helping the environment, ‘flood-proofing’, etc.).
- CHOOSE AT LEAST ONE ELIGIBLE RETROFIT
- Remember, you must complete at least ONE eligible retrofit to qualify for the grant.
- MAKE SURE YOUR RETROFIT IS ELIGIBLE
- Ensure that you a retrofit this is both listed on the Renovation Upgrade Report, as well as on the list for Eligible Retrofits. Remember, you CANNOT claim retrofits that aren’t eligible, so make sure yours are!
- KEEP ALL REQUIRED DOCUMENTS.
Keep receipts for materials (purchased only in Canada), receipts for labour costs, receipts for your pre and post EnerGuide evaluation, and proof of licencing from the professionals you hire.
The Canada Greener Homes Grant is an exciting and innovative initiative that encourages Canadian homeowners to ‘go greener and cleaner’. If you are considering retrofitting your home to make it more energy efficient, then you should absolutely apply for one of the 700 000 available grants, and you could receive up $5600 to help you offset your costs.
To register for the Canada Greener Homes Grant, or for more information, visit: https://www.nrcan.gc.ca/energy-efficiency/homes/canada-greener-homes-grant/23441