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Ontario Wants to Help you Save the Environment and Money!

For those who rent, the cost associated with heating and cooling their home is, generally speaking, of little consequence. In most cases, the landlord has worked in the cost of utilities into the rent itself, effectively sheltering their tenants from volatile utility pricing.
If you’ve recently become a homeowner for the first time, you might be feeling a little overwhelmed by your home’s variable costs, and rightfully so; depending on the state of your home’s
heating and cooling unit, you might be paying much more than you should be each month.
If that wasn’t reason enough to bring in an HVAC contractor to get an idea of how an efficient system could work in your home, here’s another little tidbit that might peak your interest: the Government of Ontario has announced a $100 million plan designed to incentivize homeowners to upgrade their home’s most vital components: their furnaces, hot water heaters, and insulation.

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While this program is intended to help consumers foot the bill for these home improvements, there are other related goals that the provincial government is hoping to achieve: the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and job creation. As the effects of global warming continue to be studied, the provincial and federal governments of Canada have committed to lowering their output of emissions. Incentives such as this one, are incredibly helpful in not only achieving those targets, but also in educating the public about the many benefits of reducing their home’s carbon footprint above and beyond what they’ll save on their bills each month.

Largely viewed as a step in the right direction and a sign of what’s to come (the money to fund this project is coming from a $325 million pool the province dog eared as a down payment on future revenue of their long term cap-and-trade plan), the details, like who can qualify and how much of a rebate they’ll receive remains to be determined.

What is known however is that approximately 37,000 of Ontario’s 4 million homes will qualify for a home energy audit to identify energy saving options. How does it work? Once a homeowner proceeds with the desired update(s), an audit will take place. Once the audit is complete, the homeowner is provided with rebates courtesy of the provincial government to offset the cost of the initial upgrade investment.

The lucky homeowners that qualify can expect to see real savings immediately; it’s estimated that for every dollar a homeowner invests to retrofit their home with energy efficient heating and cooling systems, they’ll save approximately $1.50 to $4.00 in natural gas consumption.

These kinds of real savings are great, but getting there can be difficult the older the home is. For instance, to be truly efficient, a century or even mid-century home would need to be retrofitted with new, energy efficient windows and insulation in addition to a state of the art gas furnace. For many, the cost to make these improvements on their own are simply too exorbitant.

Thankfully, it’s not just the government that’s on board with incentivizing homeowners to invest in better technology.

Some of the province’s largest purveyors of natural gas offer their customers rebates for completing a number of different installations. Enbridge, for instance, offers a $100 dollar credit to those that purchase and install a qualified smart thermostat by the end of the year! Granted, $100 might not sound like a lot, but these small improvements can add up, especially when considering that the smart thermometer itself is designed to save you money on your heating costs.

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Some programs can even see the homeowner receive up to $1800 in rebates provided they meet certain requirements and implement certain retrofits into their home. For example, Nationwide currently offers their customers a free Nest thermostat and tankless water heater when they upgrade to a high efficiency furnace.

Incentives aside, it is important for homeowners to plan and budget in advance for upgrades such as an eventual furnace replacement, or other improvements they would like to implement in the future. The crucial thing here is to make the improvements one way or the other even if you are not eligible for a rebate. Though it might cost you more money initially, your savings will be substantial over the long term.

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