New windows, new furnace: Edmonton offers home energy retrofit rebates

The City of Edmonton has launched a rebate program aimed at making homes more energy efficient and, in turn, help the city reduce greenhouse gas emissions. 

City anticipates 400 homeowners will benefit from rebate program in 2021

New developments at Blatchford in central Edmonton are based on energy efficient and net-zero models. The city is offering rebates to all homeowners to make their homes more energy efficient. (City of Edmonton)

The City of Edmonton has launched a rebate program aimed at making homes more energy efficient and, in turn, help the city reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

Through the Home Energy Retrofit Accelerator, the city will offer rebates to homeowners looking to upgrade insulation, windows, furnaces and water heaters, the city says. 

Detached homes, semi-detached homes, townhomes and mobile homes on permanent foundations are eligible for the program. 

Lisa Dockman, the city's energy transition project manager, said the average rebate will be about $1,500 per home. 

Homeowners must complete the federal home EnerGuide evaluation as the first step before applying. 

"That really helps homeowners provide and understand the kinds of upgrades that are best for their home," she said. "Similarly the kinds of energy savings and subsequently utility savings that they would get from those upgrades." 

The majority of energy use is the heating of the home and water, Dockman said. 

If a homeowner needs to replace a furnace, for example, the rebate could help them buy a higher efficiency one instead of a conventional one. 

Homeowners may also install a smart thermostat and replace older windows with triple pane windows, she suggested. 

"While they may seem like small changes, these can be really significant when you look at the footprint of each home." 

After a homeowner enrolls in the program, they will have up to 18 months to complete their energy efficiency upgrades and apply for the rebates.

The city has budgeted $600,000 a year and expects an average of 400 homes will benefit from the program annually. 

Climate goals

The residential sector is responsible for 20 per cent of the city's greenhouse gas emissions every year. 

The home energy rebate program will help the city reach its goal of cutting its greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2030, Mayor Don Iveson said Wednesday.

In 2019, city council declared a climate emergency and agreed to bolster its energy transition strategy by mid-2020 to match global standards.

"Upgrading many of these buildings will immediately contribute to Edmonton's economic recovery, stimulate our local economy and support job stability for Edmontonians, all while helping the urgent need to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions," Iveson said. 

The new program replaces in part incentive programs under energy efficiency Alberta, cut by Premier Jason Kenney's government. 

Economic recovery

Iveson said the projects will help stimulate the local economy, which was slumping even before COVID-19. 

"I think it's fair to say that the ambition of this project and the urgency predates COVID, responds to the climate emergency but is especially relevant because of the economic situation we find ourselves in because of COVID."

Iveson said renovators, builders, tradespeople and energy efficiency experts have their eye on the economy. 

"Job creation for them is one of the key things that our community needs to rebound," Iveson said. 

The program will promote jobs in the renovation, manufacturing and supply industries, said Sydney Bond, president of the Canadian Home Builders' Association for the Edmonton Region. 

"HERA will not only help bolster interest and participation in energy efficiency but will also contribute to Edmonton's economic recovery by supporting job stability for Edmontonians."

Bond said the home renovation industry in Edmonton accounts for 10,000 jobs.

A typical home built today is about 45 per cent more efficient than houses built in 1985, Bond noted. 


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