Edmonton pilot program to help homeowners with green upgrades

Edmonton residents can now access low-cost financing for eco-friendly home improvements through a new pilot program.  

Program, launched Tuesday, already fully subscribed, though new applicants placed on wait list

The Clean Energy Improvement program helps Edmonton homeowners finance eco-friendly retrofits. (CBC News)

Edmonton residents can now access low-cost financing for eco-friendly home improvements through a new pilot program.

The Clean Energy Improvement Program helps residential property owners finance up to 100 per cent of energy efficiency or renewable energy projects.

"The process involves the city providing financing to a homeowner in order to upgrade," said Barbara Daly, program manager for environment and climate resilience at the City of Edmonton. 

The program offers low-cost financing and is repaid through the applicants property tax bill.

Residents are able to request between $3,000 and $50,000, as long as the annual payment not more than their annual property tax bill. 

Once approved, homeowners can go ahead with renovations such as solar panels, environmentally conscious lighting and insulation, which they must complete within six months.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities loaned $9.6 million to the City of Edmonton to develop and launch the program. 

Listen here 
Barbara Daly, program manager for Environment and Climate Resilience at the City of Edmonton, explains how the new is already seeing massive demand.

"It's really useful for an owner to understand what their particular house requires for upgrades ... in order an energy management professional can provide that service and ultimately provide a report and a shopping list of the things that could be done," Daly said.

Homeowners should see what sort of improvements they have the space for, said energy auditor Brett Murphy. 

"Sometimes there's limitations not just financially, but also physically," he said. 

Edmonton eager for greener retrofits

Edmontonians have stepped up with intentions for green retrofits, Daly said. 

The program was expecting an average investment of $15,000, but instead the average investment is $35,000. 

That interest has exhausted the fund. The program, launched Tuesday, has been fully subscribed. New applicants are placed on a wait list.

Edmonton was prepared to support 80 applicants with their projects, Daly said, but are able to support only a little over half that number. 

The Clean Energy Improvement program offers low-interest loans for solar panels and modern insulation. (Effect Home Builders)

Murphy said the high level of interest in the program was to be expected. 

"There's already been a lot of evaluations since the federal [Greener Homes Grants] rebate program came out. There's definitely been a lot of demand just for the program alone," he said. 

While people were interested in the grant program, the low-interest financing available through the municipalities program is more attractive.

Currently, the program is only active for residents of Edmonton, Devon and Rocky Mountain House. 

"If people outside of those areas are interested in a similar program, it would be up to them to contact their councillors, whether it's a city or a municipality, and ask their council to look into putting forward a bylaw to take advantage of that opportunity," Murphy said. 

Once the funding is fully allocated and the house projects underway, council will determine if a permanent program should proceed.


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