City offers energy saving incentive

A CITY program is helping Terrace homeowners save cash on heating bills with a $100 subsidy.

A CITY program is helping Terrace homeowners save cash on heating bills with a $100 subsidy.

This amount will cover the majority of the cost of a $150 home energy assessment, the first step toward helping homeowners find ways of making their residences more energy efficient.

Money was set aside for 25 subsidies at first and then increased to 40 and at last count, 20 incentives have been paid out. The program will run until March 31st, 2012 or until the budget runs out.

This incentive program comes at a time when both provincial and federal grants are available for energy efficient materials and appliances to be used for home upgrades.

To qualify and apply for the grants, an energy assessment needs to be done.

Terrace’s sustainability coordinator Tara Irwin said the city is paying part of the initial cost to help people not only reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but to make an assessment more affordable.

Two local companies are doing assessments, Amerispec and Hometech Energy Solutions. Kim Fulljames of Amerispec explained the process, which happens in four steps:

The first is the initial assessment, where pictures are taken of a home’s heating system, hot water tank and the like. Tests are run to see how much air escapes a home, and how much energy is being consumed. A report will then be put together, recommending energy efficient upgrades listed within grant-giving government programs. A list of home-retrofit incentives can be found on B.C.’s LiveSmart website and also the federal ecoAction site.

The second step is to upgrade your home. Homeowners pay to purchase materials after deciding what is affordable for them, and can do the installation themselves or hire a contractor. Residents are eligible for grant rebates of up to $7,300.

Then, another energy assessment in done to verify improvements at a cost of around $150. A homeowner has up to 18 months to do this assessment or until March 31st, 2012 to qualify for federal and provincial incentives. The deadline for provincial grants is March 31st 2013.

The last step is to get money back by collecting grants. The assessment company will apply for homeowners and rebates are set to come back within 90 days. Your homes energy consumption rating will also be upgraded.

This rating can improve the sale cost of a home, said Fulljames, adding that financial incentive includes reducing heating bills.

Irwin, a recent first-time homebuyer, said energy usage was a factor when buying her home.

“That was a key thing I was looking at,” said Irwin. “Some of the energy bills, I was like ‘oh my god 300 a month for heating, I can’t afford that.’”