Homeowners rush to meet Efficiency NB deadline
Some homeowners are scrambling to have their homes reassessed under Efficiency New Brunswick's old rebate program so they can cash in on some of their home improvements.
The energy efficiency program, which offers incentives for energy upgrades, was revamped last spring and existing participants were given six months to decide if they wanted to fall under the old program, or the new one.
Kevin McDavid, an advisor with Enercheck Solutions, said he’s been busy in recent weeks helping homeowners who want to apply for funding under the old program to meet the Friday deadline.
"The last couple of weeks, the phones have been ringing off the hook, just everyone trying to squeeze in," he said.
McDavid will visit homes to conduct a blower door test, which indicates whether the upgrades made the house more air tight and energy efficient.
Michel Gauvin, the residential program director for Efficiency NB, which is a Crown agency, said not everyone is happy about the changes to how the program is now structured.
"Like anything, when there's a change, there's some that are winners and some that might have lost a little bit," Gauvin said.
"So depending on what side of that question you're on, you're either you know in favour, or not so much in favour. But generally, we had, I would say, not that many complaints."
Gauvin contends the new energy efficiency program is more generous, offering up to $6,000 in incentives, instead of $2,000.
But homeowners also have to spend more on more significant upgrades that have a greater environmental impact to benefit.
"The objective of the new formula is to encourage New Brunswickers to do more energy efficiency retrofits," Gauvin said.
Minor changes, such as windows and doors, which used to get up to 20 per cent in rebates, are now worth only $40 each.
While major overhauls, such as installing a new ground source heat pump, can qualify for up to $5,000, instead of $2,000.
In addition, interest-free loans are no longer available, only grants.
Gauvin estimates about one third of participants will opt to fall under the old program.
The provincial agency said 8,000 people signed up for the program last year, but that's expected to drop to 6,000 this year.
Gauvin thinks last year's numbers were inflated, however, by people who were rushing to also get into the federal ecoENERGY program before it ended on March 31, 2011.
The federal government "had announced quite well in advance that the program was closing so there was a lot of pent up demand, if you want, to take advantage of both programs," he said. "So that largely explains why last year was kind of a different year."
The federal program has since been renewed.
Even with fewer provincial participants this year, Gauvin said, the greenhouse gas reductions spurred on by the energy efficiency initiative will be significant.