Environmental Encouragement

Summary Intro: Grants for homeowners help reduce energy efficiency upgrades and while it is true that the Provincial LiveSmart Homeowner grants have ended, the federal ecoENERGY grants of up to $5000 for windows, doors, heating, ventilation and insulation continue. 


I was very disappointed when I heard that our province had dropped their LiveSmart grant program this summer, especially after all the promises our government had made to all of us, and to the world, to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions.

LiveSmart was the program that piggy-backed onto the federal ecoENERGY program which provides grants to people who make their homes more energy efficient. In essence, it increased the incentive for people to take a step towards having more energy efficient homes by offsetting some of the often high, up-front costs associated with such upgrades.

Seeing as over 26 per cent of the energy consumed in British Columbia goes to buildings, this is a significant area to be concentrating on – even more so than transportation as reducing energy consumption in buildings can provide the province with excess electricity to power electric vehicles. One really nice part of LiveSmart was that they also paid for one of the required energy assessments, which helped to reduce the upfront cost for people to engage in the energy assessment process.

If our government really is serious about keeping the environmental promises they have made to the world, they must reinstate the LiveSmart program or facilitate the creation of a similar initiative to motivate and stimulate homeowners to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. The fact that the initial funding was used up in half of the allotted time (1.5 years instead of the estimated 3 years) indicates that it was a very successful program. That success should be continued rather than abandoned! At this time, BC is the only province in Canada that does not have a grant program to complement the federal ecoENERGY program.

Fortunately, all is not lost. While LiveSmart was nice, and extremely important, it is not the only source of grants for energy upgrades: the federal ecoENERGY program on which it was based is still going strong, and homeowners can still receive up to $5,000 in rebates for upgrades made to their homes.

I should clarify that this program is separate from the Home Renovation Tax Credit program, which ends on February 1, 2010. The ecoENERGY program is set to continue until at least March 31, 2011, so there is still plenty of time to have an assessment done and complete the upgrades before the program runs out. If you are planning to renovate your home, I highly recommend that you look into this, not just for the grants themselves, but also for the personalized energy efficiency consultation that you receive from the energy advisor and for the customized report that comes with the required pre-retrofit assessment. The consultation and advice in the report will help you put your upgrade dollars where they make the most sense, so you will maximize your energy savings for years to come.

For the more energy-conscious homeowners out there, extra funding is also available from SolarBC for those who install solar hot water systems.

Anyone thinking of replacing windows, upgrading a furnace, installing a heat pump, or insulating an attic or basement will still benefit hugely from the current grant programs. Not only that, the required ecoENERGY assessment provides a detailed report on where homeowners can best upgrade their homes – and the best upgrade areas are often not what people expect.

Several service organizations are available in our area to handle ecoENERGY assessments. Some, including City Green Solutions, will even accept our local Community Way dollars for payment.

So before you start those renovations, check which grants may be available to you!


Keepin’ it Green, Nico teWinkel is a Certified Energy Advisor for City Green Solutions, living in the Comox Valley. Alternative energies and energy efficiency are his passion.