When I heard this winter is projected to be the coldest in Canadian history I felt it would be prudent to replace our 35-year-old furnace that had been clunking and coughing for the last two years.

Replacing a furnace is a considerable expenses, so I decided to research the rebates our governments are offering for making your home more energy efficient.

With the ecoEnergy retrofit program, homeowners are eligible to receive up to $5,000 in grants.

New Participant Registration

Before you purchase or install energy upgrades you first have to register with Natural Resources Canada and receive a registration number.

Pre-retrofit Evaluation

The government website gives a list of qualified service organizations that perform a pre-retrofit energy evaluation of your property using the EnerGuide Rating System.  A certified energy advisor inspects your house and prepares a personalized homeowner report with recommended improvements and an EnerGuide rating.  The initial charge with the company we used was $300 plus GST.

Since our house is about 35 years old I was a bit worried about how bad our energy efficiency rating would be.  The average energy rating for a house of this age in Alberta is 60 (on a scale of 0 to 100) and to my surprise we rated a 59.

We received a detailed evaluation report which included a checklist of recommended ecoEnergy retrofits and energy saving tips that would reduce our energy consumption and increase our rating to 79, which is apparently the highest rating achievable for our house.

Choose, Purchase and Install

After doing some comparison shopping we finally chose our new furnace installer.  Unfortunately we have to wait six weeks for the work to be completed.  Recently our old furnace had a small explosion and burned out some wiring, but happily the company did a house call (on a Sunday yet) and fixed it at no charge.

Post Retro-fit Evaluation

Thirty days after the renovations are completed you must obtain a post-retrofit evaluation.  For an additional $200 the company will examine the work and send out an updated EnerGuide rating.  Some companies will apply for the grants for you.  They need to see all your receipts to verify that the upgrades were purchased after June 6, 2011.

ecoEnergy Eligible Upgrades

These are some of the ecoEnergy eligible upgrades that qualify for a federal grant.  The total maximum grant is $5,000.

  • Heating system – $790
  • Attic insulation – $375
  • Windows and Doors – up to $600
  • Hot water heater – $375

The new equipment must have an efficiency rating that is higher than what it’s replacing.

ecoEnergy Regional Programs

Homeowners should verify the criteria for complementary programs offered by their province.  For example, in Alberta I can receive an additional $500 for the furnace and a rebate of $200 of the ecoEnergy retrofit evaluation fees.  Other rebates are also available.

ecoEnergy Program Deadlines

Eligible upgrades for the federal grants must be purchased on or after June 6, 2011 and installed after the pre-retrofit evaluation.  Products purchased before this date are not eligible so, unfortunately, we’re out of luck with the new hot water heater and three low flush toilets we installed recently.  You must keep all your receipts for three years.

The post-retrofit evaluation must be obtained no later than March 31, 2012.

Provinces also have their own criteria and deadlines.

Most homeowners will receive their federal grant cheques within 90 days after the post-retrofit evaluation.

The sooner you start your home renovations and invest in energy efficiency upgrades the sooner you will benefit from the energy savings.  Our new furnace has a 96% efficiency rating so I’ll be looking forward to the reduced heating bills.

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