Nova Scotia

Ottawa revives energy rebate

Ottawa has revived the ecoENERGY Retrofit Homes program, an initiative that provides grants of up to $5,000 to help make energy efficient home upgrades.

Ottawa has revived the ecoENERGY Retrofit - Homes program, an initiative  that provides grants of up to $5,000 to help make energy efficient home upgrades.

Right now there's no wait to get the energy audit homeowners need to qualify for Nova Scotia home energy rebates of up to $1,500 — but that's expected to change.

In most cases, the federal program doubles what's financially available from Nova Scotia programs, but there are new steps involved.

Homeowners must register with the federal government on the Natural Resources Canada website.

An energy audit must be done before and then after the upgrades are competed and all of it must be completed within eight months.

The last time the federal government got out of the program, it led to widespread layoffs.

March 2012 deadline

The question is whether homeowners can get the renovations and audit in time to met the deadline end of March 2012.

In Wolfville, the region's largest energy auditor has already fielded 70 calls since the federal announcement.

"We have hired two new staff in the Atlantic Canada region to help deal with the home evaluations and we're planning to add more," said Charlie Fudge for Sustainable Housing — a company that assists builders and homeowners in creating energy efficient and healthy homes.

Fudge is confident the industry will be able to handle the rush.

Ottawa has set aside $400 million for its program, which will end if the money runs out.

Nova Scotia has yet to decide if it will extend any of its energy rebate deadlines to match Ottawa.

"We'll try to make it as easy as possible for Nova Scotians to take advantage of both federal rebates and continue to take advantage of the provincial rebates," said Donald Dodge, program manager for Efficiency Nova Scotia.

On Friday afternoon, the Nova Scotia energy retrofit industry will be listening in on a federal government conference call to spell out all the details on its program.