Financing For Energy Efficiency Upgrades To Affordable Housing


Energy efficiency is one of the best long-term investments homeowners, renters and housing providers can make to save money, ensure protection from rising home heating costs, and protect the environment.

The biggest question facing homeowners and housing providers is: where do I get the money to make energy efficiency improvements?

At Affordable Warmth BC we aim to bridge the gap between affordable home heating and the financing required to get there.

Click on the links below to find out more.

Government Grants and Incentives

Most affordable housing retrofit projects require creative financing models to achieve their ‘green’ goals: grants and incentives play a critical role towards funding energy efficient projects. Government grants and incentives focus on ‘one-time’ funding amounts to home and building owners to cover a portion of the cost of energy efficiency retrofits.

Grants are provided to the homeowner once work has been completed and verified. Grants and incentives are generally tax deferred. Home and building owners usually take care of contract management.

Across Canada, most provinces and territories offer homeowner grants for energy efficiency upgrades in conjunction with the federal ecoENERGY Retrofit - Homes program. In British Columbia, homeowners can access LiveSmart BC incentives for windows, doors, heating, ventilation, airsealing and more.

Please consult our Incentive Search Tool to find energy efficient renovation and construction grants, rebates, subsidies, tax rebates, and other incentives available in BC.

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Government Tax Rebates and Incentives

Government tax rebates are meant to incentivize homeowners and housing providers towards making energy efficiency improvements. The most notable national tax rebate at this time is the Federal Home Renovation Tax Credit.

This is a non-refundable tax credit based on eligible expenses for improvements to your house, condo or cottage. It can be claimed on your 2009 income tax return. It applies to work performed or goods acquired after January 27, 2009, and before February 1, 2010 under an agreement entered into after January 27, 2009.

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Provincial incentives

The Province of BC is providing LiveSmart BC grants for homeowners who improve the energy efficiency of their homes.

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Provincial Utilities

Provincial utilities offer some of the best opportunities for investing in energy efficiency and reducing energy costs. Some utility programs partially fund projects (as a incentive) that improve building energy performance while others cover the entire cost to the participant.

Funds can be placed towards larger retrofits for boiler system replacement – others include a combination of smaller energy saving devices such as compact fluorescent lighting, draft-proofing and conservation measures such as efficient showerheads that save on energy and water. Participant eligibility varies, but generally, programs that cover the entire cost to the participant are geared to low income groups. These individuals must meet strict income criteria.

Examples include:

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Other Government Mechanisms

Local Government

Local energy efficiency grants and incentives are typically offered at the specific municipal level and are meant to provide a financial incentive to make building improvements that will save on water and energy.

Examples include water conservation programs, such as:

Other local programs may include funding through a municipality that can be used to support affordable housing development and energy efficiency retrofits, such as the City of Victoria $5,000 Secondary Rental Suite Grant.

Regional Government

Regional energy efficiency grants and incentives are typically offered to a larger collective of municipalities and are meant to provide a financial incentive to make building improvements that will save on water and energy.

Visit the Incentives page and serach for programs available in your municipality.

Provincial Government

BC Housing

BC Housing is dedicated to developing, managing and operating environmentally sustainable affordable housing for British Columbians in most need and to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. To support this goal, BC Housing launched a sustainable action plan.

Livegreen: A Housing Sustainability Action Plan is an inclusive strategy to help battle climate change by reducing the environmental footprint of developing and managing social housing in British Columbia.

BC Housing will be retrofitting its 7500+ directly managed social housing facilities to be more energy efficient and environmentally friendly. To read more about the Livegreen Action plan click here.

Solar BC

Solar BC is an initiative by the BC Sustainable Energy Association funded by the Ministry of Energy, Mines and Petroleum Resources and delivered in cooperation with Natural Resources Canada’s federal ecoENERGY for Renewable Heat program.

Affordable housing owners and operators in B.C. including not-for-profit social housing societies who qualify for a financial incentive for the installation of a solar water system under the federal ecoENERGY for Renewable Heat program may be eligible for the SolarBC program, as well.

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Low Interest Renovation Loans

Some financial lending institutions in BC offer homeowner’s special interest rates on small loans when doing an eco-renovation that includes energy efficiency as a core component. These loans offer "green" financing solutions to help individuals create a more energy efficient home faster while saving on borrowing costs.

Eco-renovation loans may also provide a discount on a professional energy assessment as part of the loan package.

Examples include:

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Green Mortgage Discounts

Energy Efficient Mortgages (EEMs)

An Energy Efficient Mortgage (EEM) is a mortgage that acknowledges and gives credit to a home’s energy efficiency. EEMs give individuals a chance to finance cost-effective, energy-saving measures as part of a single mortgage.

To get an EEM an individual usually has to have a home energy assessment completed on the home. The home energy assessment provides an energy rating to the home. This verifies for the lender the home’s level of energy efficiency.

Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs)

Energy Improvement Mortgages (EIMs), refer to existing homes that will have energy efficiency improvements made to them. EIMs allow borrowers to include the cost of energy-efficiency improvements to an existing home in the mortgage without increasing the down payment.

To find out more information on how to apply for an Energy Efficient Mortgage or an Energy Improvement Mortgage take a look at Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation and their coast-to-coast Green Lending Programs.

Green Leasing

Some lending institutions will fund 100% of energy efficiency retrofit work by way of a lease agreement where the homeowner or housing provider make monthly payments to pay down the lease amount. The time to pay down the lease typically ranges from 5 – 10 years, depending on the cost of the retrofit work being completed. The goal with green leasing is to match monthly lease payments with the anticipated energy savings from the retrofit work being completed.