Government helps homeowners go solar with $5,000 Greener Homes Grant and up to $40,000 interest-free loan.
We don’t have to look far in Canada to recognize the urgency of why we need to take climate change seriously. 2021 featured some of the most extreme weather conditions including windstorms, floods and heatwaves. Fighting climate change will require a collaborative effort from all of us. The urgency for action will be compounded by the rising prices of natural gas and electricity. Natural gas is up more than 175% year over year. The higher bills will be exacerbated in these extreme climates as people turn on their air conditioning or heaters more so than every before. With these added costs to Canadians’ monthly expenses, more and more people are turning to solutions like solar to bring down their future electricity bills. In that spirit, the Government of Canada launched the Greener Homes Grant and the Greener Homes Loan so that Canadians can help reduce Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions.
What is this grant and loan?
Launched in May 2021, the $2.6 billion Canada Greener Homes Grant provides Canadian homeowners up to $5,000 to make energy efficient retrofits to their homes, such as solar panel installations to reduce energy costs. The grant also provides $600 for EnerGuide home evaluations.
Buildings, including homes, account for 18% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). Installing solar panels on buildings is therefore a critical way to help Canada reach its commitment to net-zero emissions by 2050.
The Greener Homes Grant is part of a seven-year initiative for Canada’s energy transformation. There are a total of 700,000 grants available and as of June 2022, 171,000 applications submitted so far and $38.6 million in grants sent to 10,291 homeowners (latest data available).
On June 17, 2022, the federal government announced the Canada Greener Homes Loan, an interest-free loan of up to $40,000 which is being offered in conjunction with the Canada Greener Homes Grant to support homeowners who want to make their homes more environmentally friendly. There are two phases (as of the date of this article), the loan will be open to eligible homeowners who are applying or who have an open application for the Canada Greener Homes Grant. In September 2022, the eligibility will expand to include those who have already received a grant.
What makes this grant and loan so great?
This grant and the loan incentivize homeowners to install solar on their roofs which is great for the environment, electricity grid and the homeowner. According to Canada’s Energy Future 2021, the projection is that the total electricity demand will increase by 44% from 2021 to 2050. This growing need for electricity will demand additional capacity, there’s no way around that. Filling that demand will rely on other sources. It is expected that wind, solar and battery storage will dominate, making up between 82-85% of added capacity. Remembering too that the price of natural gas is going up which two thirds of Canadians use to heat their homes. Going solar at home is an attractive option for many who want to secure their future electricity supply and bring down their electricity bills. This grant and the loan make it more enticing for homeowners to make the jump to go solar sooner rather than later and incentivizes Canadians towards meeting those future needs of solar based on the anticipated demand.
Over the last 20 years, the cost for solar materials has become much more affordable. There was an 80% reduction in price from 2001 to 2015. More and more people are seeing the economic benefits of installing solar panels for their homes. The cost of installation divided by the lifetime use, when added to the reduced cost of future electricity bills, makes it worthwhile. However, the initial cost of installation can still be a barrier for some. The Greener Homes Grant puts $5,000 back in the homeowner’s pocket, making the investment more affordable than ever before.
To top it off, the Greener Homes Loan that is available for Canadians as an interest-free financing option if you’re applying to the Canada Greener Homes Grant. The loan is a maximum of $40,000 and a minimum of $5,000 with 10 years of interest-free repayment term. The loan can only help you finance eligible products and installations that are part of a retrofit that is both recommended by an energy advisor and eligible for the grant.
For those wishing the grant would pay more, we hear you. The way the grant is designed though is quite clever. A larger amount could encourage abuse, creating consumer behaviour where solar installations are being pursued when and where it might not be most useful or efficient. And if panels only provide half the expected output, then the investment won’t give the financial returns a consumer hoped for. Instead, this Greener Homes Grant provides just enough compensation for most homes to install the right size panels and maximize efficiency, producing the best possible future energy and financial returns for the homeowner. With the addition of the Greener Homes Loan, this also helps homeowners with the initial costs for products and installation to begin work in your home. These initiatives are a good step forward to make it more affordable, more accessible and a greater incentive to act now.
Who is eligible for the grant?
Homeowners across Canada are eligible for the Greener Homes Grant. One homeowner per home can register and the property must be your primary residence. Indigenous governments or organizations are also eligible.
If you live in Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut, Nunavik and Nunatsiavut, or an off-grid community, you can find further details on grants for your local area.
Eligible property types include:
- Single and semi-detached houses
- Row housing
- Mobile homes on a permanent foundation
- Permanently-moored floating homes
- Mixed use buildings (residential portion only) – see eligibility
- Low- rise multi-unit residential buildings (three storeys or less with a footprint of 600m2 or less) – see eligibility
For eligibility of the Greener Home Loan, please refer to the Government of Canada website for the latest details.
How the Greener Homes Grant is impacting Canadians
We know many Canadians who have wanted to go solar for some time and finally have made the leap due to the affordability provided through the Greener Homes Grant. Mr. and Mrs. Wickenheiser are a perfect example. They live in Calgary, Alberta and had been thinking about installing solar panels on their townhome for a while. As a retired couple, they are very aware of the rising costs of electricity and have a limited income now. The Greener Homes Grant was the tipping point for the Wickenheiser couple. They applied for the grant and found it a straightforward and quick process. Once they knew they qualified, they decided to act right away. They are expecting that they will produce a majority of their power needs from the solar panels which gives them the confidence that their monthly bill will be affordable no matter what electrical rates become in the years and decades ahead. It makes economic sense as well as being environmentally friendly.
Keep these tips in mind when you apply
- If you want the fine print of the Greener Homes Grant, read more from the Government of Canada’s Greener Homes Initiative page. We recommend you review all the requirements of the initiative carefully. The key first step is to conduct a pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide evaluation. Since the program was launched, the government has hired more auditors to expedite this process, improving the experience dramatically. Today, these audits are completed in as short as two weeks or a couple of months, depending where you’re located.
- Another tip we recommend is being proactive and attentive to details throughout the process. When you request the pre-retrofit EnerGuide evaluation, stay on top of it. If you don’t hear back with a confirmation, follow up. Make sure you keep all the documents and receipts so you can provide it with your application.
- This grant is designed in such a way that the homeowner pays all the costs up front and then gets reimbursed up to $5,000 for the eligible retrofits (started after December 1, 2020) and $600 for the combined cost of your pre- and post-retrofit EnerGuide evaluations (so long as you continue with the grant process). Manage your expenses and activities with this in mind. There is also the Greener Homes Loan that is available as an interest-free financing option to help pay for some of these upfront costs. It provides smaller loans of $5,000 or up to $40,000 for each household. The loan can only help you finance eligible products and installations that are part of a retrofit that is both recommended by an energy advisor and eligible for the grant.
- We recommend you research the equipment being offered. Ask for alternatives as you’ll want to make an educated and informed decision about what works best for you. Your local installers can be a key partner in helping you weigh options and get up to speed on what’s available and what’s the best option for your home.
If you’re unsure about how to get started with a solar installation, we can put you in touch with a local installer or dealer. Reach out to us here.