Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Tories Plan $5,000 Grants for "Green" Home Improvements.

The federal Conservatives yesterday dangled the promise of $5,000 rebates for energy-efficient home renovations.

Natural Resources Minister announced the program yesterday at the Metro Home Show in Toronto, saying Canadians can apply for grants of up to $5,000 to make homes and businesses more energy efficient as part of a $300 million program.

All Canadians regardless of their income will be eligible and the size of their grant will depend on how much they can realize in gains in becoming more energy efficient.

Details of the program, such as how to apply, are not being released until April.

Big-ticket items like new windows, insulation, furnaces and energy-efficient appliances would all be eligible under the program. And he added measures as simple as installing a programmable thermostat would also make a huge difference.

The plan calls for homeowners and small business to first pay for an energy audit and the retrofit before applying for the rebate.

An energy audit of a house can cost $200 to $300. And new windows, for instance, can easily cost $5,000 for a small home.

I don't think you will get as many people taking advantage of it simply because of the upfront costs and then you don't know if you are going to get it.

Last year, the Conservative government scrapped a new five-year, $500 million program proposed by the Liberals called EnerGuide for Low Income Households, which would have paid the full cost of renovations to improve energy use for low-income earners.

The Tories continue to come under fire for their sudden interest in global warming when many of the programs announced in the past week – totalling $2 billion over several years – are dusted off or watered down Liberal plans killed in last year's Tory budget.

Despite this, Stephen Dupuis, CEO of the Greater Toronto Home Builders Association and Urban Development Institute, gave the Conservative plan two thumbs up, while Toronto Mayor David Miller gave the announcement polite support.

The $300 million so-called ecoENERGY Efficiency Initiative spread out over four years has three components:
  • A $220 million retrofit program aimed at helping homeowners and small and medium businesses make the necessary energy efficiency improvements with grants up to $5,000.
  • A $60 million program to promote the use of the latest energy efficient practices in new buildings.
  • A fund of $20 million to encourage the industrial sector to accelerate energy saving investments.
Canada's 13 million homes and 380,000 commercial, industrial and retail buildings use 30 % of the country's energy, and are responsible for almost 30 % of greenhouse gas emissions.

The former Liberal government EnerGuide program as being administratively top heavy with too few dollars finding their way back to consumers' pocket.


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