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Mayor unveils rebate plan for green home upgrades

Mayor Don Iveson says the city's new Home En­ergy Retro­fit Ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gram is in­tended to slash green­house gas emis­sions while re­duc­ing en­ergy bills for home­own­ers.
Mayor Don Iveson says the city's new Home En­ergy Retro­fit Ac­cel­er­a­tor pro­gram is in­tended to slash green­house gas emis­sions while re­duc­ing en­ergy bills for home­own­ers.

A new three-year rebate incentive will allow about 1,200 Edmonton residents to retrofit their homes with energy-efficient upgrades.

Launched by the City of Edmonton Wednesday morning, the $1.8-million Home Energy Retrofit Accelerator (HERA) program will offer residents the chance to upgrade insulation, air sealing, windows, water heating and space heating to reduce the carbon footprint of their homes.

Mayor Don Iveson said Edmonton's residential sector accounts for 19 per cent of the city's greenhouse gas emissions and this program is intended to start a downward trend. In declaring a state of climate emergency in the summer of 2019, the city plans to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from 19 tonnes per person to three tonnes per person by 2030.

“The HERA incentive program will help homeowners invest in energy efficiency improvements that allow them to benefit from reduced energy bills while also helping to build a low-carbon, cleaner city. This will be a critical component in creating a more climate resilient Edmonton, too, and will lay the foundation for Edmonton's housing stock as well as the creation of many jobs,” Iveson said Wednesday. “I'm hopeful that many residents will take advantage of this exciting new program.”

Rebate amounts will vary for each homeowner based on the improvements they choose, but the average is estimated to be around $1,500 with more than 400 approved applicants expected each year. Council has already approved a budget of $600,000 annually over the next three years for the program.

Canadian Home Builders' Association Edmonton Region president Sydney Bond welcomed the incentive program, noting it will not only improve the energy efficiency of older homes in the city, but also help create jobs and stimulate the shaky economy. The association represents 460 member residential construction companies in the Edmonton area.

Home renovations in the city account for more than 10,000 jobs, representing $724 million in wages and $1.2 billion in investment, Bond projected.

“Every dollar spent on energy retrofits of a home in the existing housing stock yields four to seven times more energy savings than that spent on upgrading a newly built home. Homeowners can feel good that their investment will have such a large impact,” Bond said. “Providing financial incentives to homeowners who are making improvements to their homes allows them to make energy-conscious decisions without breaking the bank.”

A typical newly built home is 47 per cent more energy-efficient than a home built in 1985, Bond said, with the older homes accounting for half of Canada's existing housing inventory.

Interested residents will first need to conduct an Energuide home energy evaluation to determine what home improvements they would be eligible for and then have 18 months from enrolment to complete upgrades and apply for the corresponding rebates. Those who undertake three or more retrofits will be eligible for a 20-per-cent bonus on all completed upgrades. Applications will be processed on a first-come, firstserved basis.

Edmonton's prior residential rebate program resulted in more than $15 million in economic activity and carbon reductions of more than 41,000 tonnes in one year.

Under Edmonton's community energy transition strategy, the city is trying to stay within a carbon budget of 135 megatonnes until 2050 in order to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius.