Manitoba homeowners are being offered new help to make their homes more energy-efficient.

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A Hydro financing program is aimed primarily at older homes where big savings can be had by upgrading insulation, furnaces or toilets. (Johnson Controls Inc./Associated Press)

Hydro is launching a program this fall that will pay for customers' energy and water retrofits, then recover the money over time via the customer's monthly bills.

The Crown corporation says the program is aimed primarily at older homes where big savings can be had by upgrading insulation, furnaces or toilets.

Hydro estimates right now 65,000 homes need updated insulation and about 40,000 homes need new furnaces.

The province hopes the new program will encourage Manitobans to make energy efficient improvements by making it more affordable.

"Reducing our energy use also protects all Manitobans against future energy price increases while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions," said Premier Greg Selinger.

The program is expected to be in place by fall 2012, he said.

Lowest utility rates

Meanwhile, the government is promising to guarantee the province's utility rates are the lowest in the country.

Premier Greg Selinger says by the end of September the government will issue a report comparing the cost of electricity, home heating and auto insurance with the rates in other provinces.

Selinger says the report will be prepared by an independent accounting firm.