Archive for the ‘Government Incentives and Rebates’ category

Home Renovation Tax Credit Now Available in Quebec

April 29th, 2014

On April 24th, 2014, the newly elected provincial Liberal government announced a LogiRenov Home Renovation Tax Credit, similar to the one the Federal government offered back in 2009.

Specifically the tax credit works like this (from the website):

The amount of the tax credit corresponds to 20% of the portion of an individual’s eligible expenses that exceeds $3,000, up to a maximum tax credit of $2,500 per eligible dwelling. [source]

The type of work that is permitted is pretty broad, from fixing up a bathroom to repairing or replacing roofing shingles. However, the work must be completed by a registered contractor and you must have a receipt for the work done.

To find out what type of work qualifies, visit the Revenu Quebec website.

Another point to remember is that EcoRenov tax credit that was introduced in November, 2013 is still in effect and will work in conjunction with this one.

The Home Renovation Tax Credit is only in effect for the tax years of 2014 and 2015, so if you want to take advantage of it, start organizing those projects now.

For more information, visit the Revenu Quebec website.

 

Renovating Your Home or Cottage in Quebec? You Might be Eligible for the EcoRenov Tax Credit

January 9th, 2014

The EcoRenov tax credit was announced by the Quebec government in October, 2013 and it is available to homeowners to make specific renovations until November 1, 2014. A contract with a certified contractor or company must be in place between October 8, 2013 and November 1, 2014.

The way it works (from the website):

For 2013, you may be entitled to a tax credit equal to the lesser of the following for each eligible dwelling:

  • $10,000
  • 20% of the portion of your eligible expenses for 2013 that exceeds $2,500

For 2014, you may be entitled to a tax credit equal to the lesser of the following for each eligible dwelling:

  • 20% of the portion of your eligible expenses for 2014 that exceeds the lesser of
    • $2,500, or
    • $2,500 minus the eligible expenses for 2013; and
  • $10,000 minus any amount received in 2013 as a tax credit for eco-friendly renovation.

[Source]

The tax credit itself doesn’t turn out to be a huge savings incentive when you consider what your renovation cash output will be, but  it might contribute to getting a higher quality HVAC system than you might have been able to afford without it, or more insulation than you thought you could afford — which is like the gift that keeps on giving as it will lower your overall monthly running costs.

There is a list of qualifying actions you can make, including:

  • Building envelope improvements (adding insulation, caulking, weatherstripping, door and window replacements, etc.),
  • Heating and cooling equipment upgrades (very specific requirements),
  • Upgrading your water heating system,
  • Adding a gray water or rain water catchment system, or restoration of a buffer system between a body of water and waste effluent system,
  • Adding solar photovoltaic or hot water panels, or a domestic wind turbine,
  • Cleaning up contaminated soil,
  • Adding a green roof.

Unlike the EcoEnergy Retrofit grant, it appears that an energy audit isn’t necessary to receive the tax credit, just have a qualified contractor fill out or sign the appropriate form. Energy audits are addressed under Quebec’s Renoclimat program, and still a good idea to perform one before you start any energy efficiency work as it will help you target your dollars where you’ll get the most value from your improvements.

For full details on the tax credit, visit Revenue Quebec’s EcoRenov tax credit page.

 

 

 

Energy Efficiency — Creating and Implementing an Action Plan

September 10th, 2011

Woods auto shut off powerbar

I’ve written many articles on energy efficiency, and read a lot on it as well, where I’ve always gotten frustrated are the uncoordinated tips that are given about improving your home’s energy efficiency. “Buy this super duper auto shut-off plug!” “Install CFLs!” “Replace your windows and doors!” If you’re not taking targeted action, you’re not going to be as efficient as you think you are. You have to know where you use the most electricity before making changes, otherwise you’re not spending wisely, and you won’t see the results you want.

The first three articles in this series on energy efficiency involved discovering how much electricity your household uses, doing a home DIY electricity audit to determine which devices are using the most electricity, and finally, monitoring your family’s behaviour to see how electricity is being used. Now it’s time to synthesize that information and take concrete steps towards lowering your electricity consumption. You’ve done the research, now do the foot work.

Set a target. Let’s say you’ve determined that your family uses 1200 KWH of electricity per month and you want to get that consumption down to 900 KWH/month. Look through your energy audit and any notes on family behaviour regarding electricity you’ve made and decide how easily achievable the goal is (Reducing from 1200 KWH to 900 KWH is a 25% reduction, so it could be a top-lofty goal to start with).

There are four ways to reduce plug load consumption:

  • unplug,
  • use power intermittently,
  • replace items with more efficient models, substitution (ie., ceiling fans for central air),
  • change family behaviour (probably the toughest action to enforce).

Unplug. You know where electricity in your home is being used from your DIY audit. Go after the inexpensive, low hanging fruit first. No, not the light bulbs, unplugging gadgets. Unplugging is a no-brainer. Why is your VCR still plugged in? When was the last time you used it? What about that digital clock and old TV in the spare room you rarely use? What about the coffeemaker? If you don’t use the timer and it has a clock, unplug it. Any cord that comes with a DC converter and feels hot to the touch when it’s plugged in should be unplugged unless in use, particularly cellphone chargers and laptops. Those chargers draw power even when nothing’s attached to them. If you’ve done a meticulous electricity audit, you can see on paper just how much electricity you’ll stop using by unplugging gadgets and just how close to your goal the unplugging will bring you. Not only have you not spent a dime to make changes, you’re now paying less to your utility company too.

Use power intermittently. This means put gadgets on timers, unplug cellphone chargers when something’s finished charging. Learn how to program and use your thermostat for both winter and summer. The earliest models were a pain to program, but the current models walk you through programming fairly easily. Schedule 15 minutes one weekend morning and program your thermostat to meet your family’s needs.

Add auto-shut off bars to your gaming stations, computer stations, and anything else that uses a lot of phantom power, such as cell phone chargers. You can plug several cords into one unit, so you will likely only need two or three cords, maybe you even have some already that you bought with good intentions, but just never got around to using properly.

Look at your DIY Audit, figure out how many power cords you’ll need, then program the devices to be on for only a few hours a day (why turn on a gaming station before 4 in the afternoon, or even, during the week if your kids aren’t allowed to game during the week?).

If you use your outdoor lighting every night, all night, you might want to consider putting it on timers or sensors so that it only goes on when someone approaches. We only use our outdoor lights when we’re expecting company (or the pizza delivery guy), because there’s a street light outside our home that does the job.

Go to saveONenergy for money-saving coupons on many energy efficient products including light bulbs, sensors and auto shut-off timers. Note: coupons are valid in Ontario only.

Calculate how much electricity you’d save if items were completely off for 18 hours per day and see how close you’re getting to your target.

Replace items with more efficient models. This is the area where some investment is involved, so you might want to develop a budget and see how much you’re prepared to do and when.

Lighting. In our house lighting counts for up to 20% of our over all electricity consumption, so it’s worthwhile examining where changes can be made to have an impact on overall efficiency. However, I have a confession to make: I hate CFL bulbs. I don’t like the light they cast or how long it takes for them to warm up. They don’t last as long as they’re touted to because (and no one ever tells you this) the more often you turn them on and off, the shorter their lifespan; they’ve got mercury in them, and you just know that some people are not going to dispose of them responsibly so some are likely ending up in landfill. It’s hard to find dimmable CFLs, and finally, I don’t like their shape because they don’t fit with some of my lamps. Harrumph. But I still use them. Not everywhere, just where I have a tendency to have lights on all the time, like in my office, the rec. room, and the kitchen.

Before changing all your light bulbs to CFLs and LEDs think about what really needs changing. Don’t bother replacing bulbs that are rarely used, ie., basement or hall closets, any other rooms/lamps where lights are rarely turned on. It’s not worth the money, and you won’t be saving enough electricity to make a difference. The next time those burn out, replace it with something more efficient. In the mean time focus on the rooms where lights are on the most often. In our house it’s the kitchen, the office and the rec. room. They all contain CFLs (even though I hate them). Not only will you see a significant drop in electricity consumption, but in the summer they generate less heat relieving your air conditioner of some stress too. Of course the corollary of that is that they generate less heat in the winter, so you might be increasing your heating bill slightly.

I like LED bulbs. They’re dimmable, they’re better looking, the light they cast is crisp. Plus, they don’t have any mercury in them. Because they’re still not cost effective for short-term decisions, it’s best to replace lights where they’re used the majority of the time. Buying LEDs, however, isn’t as simple as going into Home Depot and picking up a few, so I’ve written an article on how to buy LED lights. Invest in good quality ones and they will last the 75,000 to 100,000 hours they say they will.

Appliances. The next time you need new appliances, look for the most efficient Energy Star appliances you can afford. Here’s the thing about Energy Star, in order to be certified, an appliance needs to be at least 20% more efficient than its non-Energy Star counterpart. But there are many, many brands that go much farther beyond the 20% more efficient. Read labels and Energuide information that’s tacked on the front of all models and compare to the brand beside it. European models are so much more efficient than most North American models it’s not even funny — but they’re also considerably more expensive and may be hard or expensive to repair if anything goes wrong. Buy new appliances when you need them, and figure out which one is going to make the biggest dent in your electricity bill (most likely the fridge and the washer).

Note that central air conditioners and furnaces are also Energy Star rated, as are new homes, but not ovens or dryers. If you know how much energy your current appliances use, you can figure out how much electricity a new model is going to save you.

Ceiling fans: There are Energy Star rated ceiling fans too, although using ceiling fans throughout the house will permit you to set your central air conditioner at a higher temperature, or do without it altogether. Ceiling fans consume, on average, about 60 Watts of electricity, versus a central air conditioning unit which uses approximately 3500 Watts (depending on the size, year made, efficiency, etc.).

Change Family Behaviour. If you’ve been watching your family’s and your own behaviour, you’ll have noticed when they leave lights/computers/gaming stations on, the fridge door open, chargers plugged in, etc.  Controlling your own behaviour is the easiest and maybe the best way to start is by improving your own habits. Can you line dry some of your clothes more often? Have you set up a centralized cellphone charging station where it’s easy to unplug at the end of a charging session? Have you got yourself into the habit of turning lights and computers off every time you leave the room?

Regarding the rest of your family, doing a few calculations to see how much it costs every time these little actions occur may help, especially if there’s a way to incentivize them to change. If, after a year of behaviour change you saved enough money to treat yourselves to your family’s favourite restaurant, or something even bigger, maybe that would help. Whatever motivates them to think about conserving, you should try. Maybe they can help you brainstorm ideas, if kids take a stake in the decisions, they are more likely to follow through — with lots of reminders, coaching, and encouragement.

Review and compare. Now that you’ve taken steps to reduce your electricity, review and compare your results and see how you’re doing versus your original target goals. There are a few ways to do this: The first is to wait until you get your next electric bill and see what your power usage from the previous year was. If you want instant gratification, and you have a smart meter, and you live in a service area, sign up for Lowfoot.com. Not only does the service send you your electricity usage daily, it starts you off with an automatic 10% reduction target. Every time you use less electricity, you receive a cash deposit in your Paypal account at the end of the month. If you don’t have a smart meter hooked up to your home yet, have a look at the Power Cost monitor. This company has just teamed up with Plot Watt to offer even those homes without smart meters the ability to track and identify accurately, the electricity consumers in the home.

Hey, Prime Minister Harper! What do you mean you cancelled the Eco Energy Retrofit Grant???

April 7th, 2010

Yes, that’s right folks, here in Canada, when it comes to improving your home’s energy efficiency, if you snoozed, you lost. As of March 31, 2010, if you haven’t already booked your appointment with an energy auditor you can no longer apply for any ecoEnergy retrofit grant money from the feds.  Do NOT get me started on the short-sightedness of this latest cost-cutting measure. The only good news? So far it looks like the provincial Ontario grants have not been affected by Mr. Harper’s latest move — keep your fingers crossed they don’t follow suit.

To qualify to receive your federal ecoEnergy Retrofit grant, you must complete your retrofits by March 31, 2011 in order to get the grant money.

You are still eligible if you’ve already had your assessment or have even booked your appointment.

A little warning might have been nice, but there you go.

For more information see the Office of Energy Efficiency’s Home Page.

Home Improvement Grants and Rebates Available in Toronto

February 9th, 2010

NOTE: I updated this post on September 30, 2013 as many of the programs have now changed or have been cancelled.

 

Now that the Home Renovation Tax Credit has expired, you might be reluctant to do any but the necessary home improvement work around your house. The HRTC covered ANY home improvement, as long as it was permanently attached to the house (i.e., decks and broadloom can be claimed but patio furniture and area rugs can’t). But don’t despair,  there are still some rebates available for energy efficiency upgrades — which in the long run will save you money. However, trying to find available grants and rebates can be like walking through the cedar maze on Toronto Island, so I’ve put together a list of websites that can help in your search to save money.

One important point: if you want a rebate on any of the work you’re having done you must use a qualified energy auditor to perform pre and post energy audits. So if you’re building a new house, the rebates don’t apply (bummer, eh?).

Below is a list of websites that will guide you to the grants and rebates available to you depending on what home renovations you do.

City of Toronto:

Live Green Toronto has a program called HEAT (Home Energy Assistance Toronto) that lists the amount of rebate you can receive for improving your home’s insulation [***Update: As of March 31, 2011, this program is no longer available***].

Provincial Rebates and Grants:

Under the Home Energy Savings Program, the Ontario government matches federal grants and rebates, so you get twice the bang for your rebate buck. Provincial rebates are up to a maximum of $5000. [Note: this program appears to no longer be in existence. In its place are several smaller, piecemeal programs. Check out this page for more information at the Ministry of the Environment, Ontario.

Update: As of September 30th, 2013, “Every Kilowatt Counts” is now called the SaveONenergy program. It is the Ontario Power Authority’s website that offers great energy saving tips as well as coupons for gadgets that help you better control your electricity use. In the spring of 2010 look for coupons for discounts on programmable thermostats, weatherstripping, and one of my favourites, powerbars with built-in timers (be still my beating heart!). Plus, if you click further into their website, you’ll find a handy chart that identifies who sells what. (Hot tip!: Canadian Tire sells everything on the list!).

Federal Rebates and Grants:

The ecoEnergy Retrofit program is the federal government’s energy efficiency program. The rules are again very specific and depend on an energy audit first. But you can earn up to a maximum of $5000 in rebates depending on how far you take the efficiency steps. Note: This grant program is set to expire in March 31, 2011. Update: As of March 31, 2010, the federal government has cancelled this program. For more information read this post.

Happy Home Improvement!

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