Giving your home some TLC after the winter may be on the top of your spring cleaning checklist—especially after the winter we’ve just had. While home repair is usually not something any of us relish spending money on, maintaining your home will save you big bucks if you address the problems while they are still small: a small leak that could turn into a burst pipe, a broken roofing tile that could leave your whole roof needing repair, keeping the furnace tuned to prevent a mid-winter breakdown, or topping up attic insulation this summer to prepare for next winter’s wrath.
Before you start those projects, however, check with your local utility, municipality, provincial or state governments to see if they offer any grants or rebates on the home improvement projects you’re about to undertake. Grants and rebates are available for a variety of projects: from changing windows and doors to Energy Star certified ones; to adding motion sensors to outdoor lights; or replacing your old appliances, furnace or air conditioner. Note though, that some rebates are only eligible if you’ve had a home energy audit completed first by an accredited professional, so make sure you are familiar with the programs offered in your community.
Here is a list of some of the types of programs available…
Grant and Rebate Programs for Home Improvements
1. Instant Rebate Coupons
Utilities across Canada and the US offer money-saving coupons to help with purchases of light timers and sensors, programmable thermostats, LED and CFL light bulbs. Often these coupons are accepted at a wide range of stores in your community. Example: coupons available for various Ontario utility customers at saveonenergy.ca
Rebates are available for replacement of furnaces and air conditioners and energy audits and toilet replacements.
In Alberta, several cities offer rebates on low-flow toilets, to get you to replace your old water-guzzling 13 liter/3.4 gallons toilet with a new low-flush toilet. Note that most of the utilities encourage you to switch to a 6 litre or dual 6/3 litre toilet, but that’s so 2010. There are excellent 3L (0.8 gallons) toilets on the market made by Proficiency, Niagara and Caroma. If you’re worried about the quality of the flush, check out the “Maximum Performance” Ratings of toilets, a report completed jointly by the California Urban Water Conservation Council and the Canadian Waste Water Association. The most recent report came out in 2009, but it will give you an idea of different brands’ effective flush rates.
Depending on the work you are undertaking, especially if you are interested in adding renewable power generation to your home, check to see if there are grants available. There are also more and more financing mechanisms available that help offset the cost of adding solar panels to your roof.
4. Tax credits
Some provinces or states offer tax credits (usually limited time offers) to help boost the economy while improving your home’s value and comfort. For example: Quebec is offering a Home Renovation Tax Credit for doing certain types of work such as insulation upgrades, adding a heat pump, or adding renewable energy.
Several utilities and gas companies offer their customer “efficiency packages” that include such things as weather stripping, faucet aerators, low flow showerheads, and water heater and pipe insulation kits (using less hot water saves both water and energy).
One of the most common incentives offered across municipalities is the “get rid of your old, working fridge” offer, but the incentive varies widely. In Ontario, the utilities will take it away for free. In New Brunswick, you receive $35 and 100 Air Miles. In Quebec, you get $60 for that old, working fridge.
Want more information?
Here are some great websites to help you find rebates, grants, tax credits and more, near you.
(Note: These federal databases list programs that may not be current, but they will lead you to your local source where it’s best to confirm if the programs still exist.)
Grants and Financial Resources: The Office of Energy Efficiency, a division of Natural Resources Canada, has a database of programs available to Canadians by province, utility, and municipality.
In the US:
The database of state incentives for renewable and efficiency (dsire). A joint project by the North Carolina Solar Center and the US Department of Energy. It lists by state, municipality and utility, the different types of energy efficiency and renewable grants, incentives, rebates, etc., available.
Visit BECGreen.ca for additional information and resources.
Cathy Rust writes about energy and water efficiency and all kinds of nifty eco-friendlier products to build or renovate your home. Learn more at BECGreen.ca.