Green Home Incentives: Net Zero Home Grants & Zero Interest Home Renovation Loans for 2020
Whatever the politics, we are thrilled to see the Net Zero Home Grants and energy-efficient home upgrade interest-free loan program announcement by Canada’s newly-elected (2019) Liberal Government. According to the Liberal Party website that outlines their new platform, this Home Renovation Incentive Program intends to make life more affordable for Canadians, cut climate change emissions, and build more resilient homes for the extreme weather events in a changing climate.
Green Home Renovation Tax Credits and Financial Incentives such as this program offer what we believe is the best return on investment for government initiatives for fighting climate change, stimulating the economy, and keeping more money in the pockets of homeowners. Sounds like the talking points of a political hack, eh? Yeah well, at least in this case it’s true, and, if you allow me to step up on my soap box for a moment I will explain my political hackiness…
Stimulate the green home construction industry
Green home tax credits and interest-free loans are the best return on investment for government stimulus. An investment into improving home energy-efficiency has a multitude of benefits, with the most notable being that you get a more energy-efficient home that saves you money. An energy-efficient home is a more durable home, a durable home lasts longer, requires less maintenance and has a higher resale value. What homeowner wouldn’t applaud their government for that? But wait, it gets better…
By giving you back your own tax dollars to make your home more energy efficient, you will spend that money largely on employing people in your community. We were actually a bit surprised to see that they didn’t toot their own horns a bit more on that front, considering how much politicians just LOVE expressions like “putting money back in the pockets of hard working taxpayers”.
Rather than spending your money on gas, oil or electricity to heat your home, your money will create jobs in the local construction industry, through material manufacturing and job creation for builders and general contractors. So, your local builders will have more money to spend on local businesses, just as will you have more disposable income to spend long into the future since you will now enjoy lower heating bills.
Help achieve climate change goals
Let’s also remember – these Free Home Energy Audits in Canada, Net Zero Home Grants & Interest Free Home Retrofit Loans will also help us meet national Canadian climate change goals of lowering emissions since your home will consume less energy and reduce our per capita carbon footprint - which is embarrassingly high.
As described on the Liberal Party website that outlines their new platform, this Home Renovation Incentive Program intents to make life more affordable for Canadians, cut climate change emissions and protect the environment.
What do the Liberal election promises include?
The investment in Green Home Renovations and energy efficiency upgrades intends to retrofit 1.5 million homes to help Canadians make their homes more energy efficient, and better protect them from climate-related risks. The plan also includes the following:
- Free energy audits for homeowners and landlords (hopefully including blower door testing)
- an interest-free loan of up to $40,000 to help homeowners and landlords pay for retrofits
- A Net Zero Homes Grant of up to $5,000 to help people buy newly built homes that are certified zero-emissions
- A $100 million investment in skills training, to ensure there are enough qualified workers to keep up with energy audits, retrofits, and net-zero home construction.
To help Canadians save more on their monthly energy bills, the Government also plans to make ENERGY STAR certified appliances mandatory for all new home appliances beginning in 2022.
To help make large commercial buildings more energy efficient, the government also announced a competition to create four $100-million long-term funds to help attract private capital that can be used for deep retrofits of large buildings such as office towers.
Net Zero Home builder training programs
- The Liberals also promise to invest $100 million in skills training for Net Zero and green home construction to ensure there are enough qualified workers to perform energy audits and meet the demand for energy-efficient renovations and net-zero new home construction.
Future-proofing homes for climate change
The cost and damage from severe weather events due to climate change is four times higher in 2019 than it was ten years ago, now averaging $1.8 billion a year over the last decade. In order to build resilient homes better suited to handle climate change, the Liberal Government has made the following commitments:
- Implement a low-cost national flood insurance program to assist homeowners located in high-risk flood zones that don’t currently have adequate insurance protection.
- Invest $150 million to complete floodplain maps for all the provinces and territories.
- Create an action plan to help homeowners in high-risk areas of repeat flooding, including potential relocation.
What renovations add value to a home?
A Home Energy Audit will identify the improvements needed to best reduce your heating bills, so now it's time to get the work done, so where do you start? Keep in mind, whatever repairs you undertake will be done by a general contractor of your choosing, so choose wisely!
How to find a good general contractor
Builders with experience building high performance homes such as LEED Certified homes or Passive House Certified homes would be a plus, but they may not always be easy to find. And be sure to get more than one quote, and don’t always go with the cheapest one.
The sure-fire way to find a qualified general contractor is to educate youself then pepper them with questions. You can up your understanding in 10 minutes by watching our building science made easy video and then grill them and see who passes your test! You will likely be surprised, and even somewhat horrified, to learn that a lot of builders aren't that knowledgeable about how homes really should be built.
When to replace windows and when to repair them
You may be recommended to replace your windows for example, which can eat up that 40K pretty quickly, so first read here about when to replace old windows when renovating, and when then can just be repaired.
A large percentage of heat loss from a home is due to air leakage, so part of your energy audit will be a blower door test, which will help you find and fix air leaks. Our Quebec office recently had a full renovation which gave us an opportunity to try an air barrier spray for sealing air leaks, and we were very impressed with the results.
What R value do I need for an attic?
With many older homes, the biggest gains in efficiency comes from insulating attics, which can be done in one of two ways – the right way, and the wrong way. You many not know which one happened until you experience ice damming and what will seem like a roof leak on a warm sunny day in spring. Here is a forensic tip for you...roofs don't leak on sunny days! See our page on How to fix ice dams so you can understand yourself how it should be done and you can then be sure your contractor is carrying out work properly.
How to finish a basement wall
And probably the worst mistakes in building we ever see, and which still happens in new construction as well as renovations, is basements being built wrong. Like....REALLY wrong! Before you allow a contractor to do basement renovations in a way that only makes sense if you are starting a mushroom farm, see our page on preventing mold when you insulate your basement to make sure it is done well. For any other questions, check out our green building guide pages, and if you don’t find what you are looking for ask an expert on our discussion forum!