A Manitoba Hydro program aimed at helping more people afford energy-efficient upgrades to their homes could be improved, says the minister responsible for the power utility.

David Chomiak responded to a CBC I-Team report this week that found qualifying for Hydro's Pay As You Save (PAYS) financing program can be difficult.

The I-Team found that the qualification criteria are too restrictive. Of the more than 3,000 Manitobans who have looked into the program since it launched in November, only 57 have qualified.

While Hydro officials have told CBC News they are satisfied with the results of the PAYS program so far, Chomiak said it could be better.

"Obviously there's been some problems, and we want to improve it," Chomiak said in an interview late Thursday.

"The goal here is to help people, and we're going to try to do that, and we're going to try to ensure that some of those difficulties are eliminated."

PAYS works by estimating the amount that upgrading your home's energy efficiency will save you on your monthly bill, and applying those savings to your loan payment for those upgrades.

Those savings should cover the entire cost of the upgrades, but there are restrictions: for starters, those who own mid-efficiency furnaces do not qualify, meaning most homes with furnaces installed after 1979 are out of luck.

Even customers who have a standard furnace, and do qualify for a PAYS loan, would not get enough money from Hydro to cover the full cost of the upgrades.

That has some concerned that PAYS, along with another Hydro financing program for low-income customers, does not adequately help all customers who want to make their homes more energy-efficient.

"We want to continue to help people and we want to conserve energy," Chomiak said.

"Those goals remain, and we'll try to improve the program in order to make   those goals more easy to obtain."

Tonight on CBC News: Winnipeg at 5 p.m.: The I-Team will explore how Chomiak and Hydro officials disagree on who the PAYS program is designed to help.

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