The Greener Homes Grant Program; How Successful Was It?

By Richard Peachey

Now that the Canada Greener Homes Grant (CGHG) program has ended its commission, 4RG wanted to get an idea of its effectiveness. I checked in with GreenUp, the non-profit environmental group and one of the main CGHG agents in Peterborough, to get a report on the program. Clara Blakelock, is a Registered Energy Advisor and Program Manager at GreenUp; she met me on a cold March morning to go over her experience with CGHG.

GreenUp has been doing home assessments for homeowners interested in making their houses more energy-efficient for years, so it was natural that they would be part of the roll-out of the grant program. Clara told me that when the program was announced in May 2021 there was a rush of applications and GreenUp had to scramble to hire more people to do home assessments, the first stage in the application for the Greener Homes Grant. 

Some 600 calls came in very quickly, and there was a 2-month wait before many could get an assessor at their door. Clara said that many applicants were older or retired people, and new home-owners. And since the total grant, as generous as it was, covered only a portion of the cost of converting to clean energy, applicants had to be well-off to afford it.

She estimated that most applicants (70%) ended up opting for a heat-pump conversion, and many invested in improving the insulation of their homes as well.

Was the program successful? In Clara’s mind, yes. Many Peterborough homes have been taken off the fossil-fuel treadmill – no longer releasing greenhouse gas emissions in the heating and cooling of their homes. Those people are also now saving money. Using the Ontario Clean Air Alliance Calculator (https://www.cleanairalliance.org/calculator/), one can determine that the average Peterborough homeowner will save $665.00 per year by switching from natural gas to a heat pump (for heating and cooling).

Another great aspect of the CGHG program is that it has measurable results (unlike some of the flim-flam projects being touted by the oil industry), which is always useful when taxpayer money is being spent.

What about the depth of the program – did it go far enough? Clara and her team heard last November that the budget for the CGHG program was likely going to end in March of 2024, when commitments made would expend the entire budget allotted by the federal government. Clara estimates that over 400 homes in Peterborough performed, or are planning to perform retrofits under the program. This is very positive, but we know it is a drop in the bucket.

In the Paris agreement in 2021, Canada committed to cuts by 2030 of 40-45% reductions in emissions below our 2005 level. To help accomplish this, Clara calculates that the city of Peterborough, to do its part, has to convert 10,000 homes to clean energy by 2030. It seems we are far from our goal, with much to do.

One of the advantages of this kind of funding is that many people now know, or have heard about the benefit of conversion. There are also many contractors and suppliers now ready and available to do the installations. We have to celebrate that our government has taken this initiative to help us reduce our green-house gas emissions, but we should all let our federal representatives know that they should keep this pipeline open.

Call to action: send a letter to Federal representatives asking them to save the Greener Homes Grant Program: https://greencommunitiescanada.org/gcnews-february-help-save-the-greener-homes-grant/

2 thoughts on “The Greener Homes Grant Program; How Successful Was It?”

  1. As always you are mostly right, Fred. I don’t view it as an either /or proposition. We need lots of pressure from lots of people on ALL levels of government. Guy

  2. Hi Guy In the interest of faster adaptation of heat pumps in Peterborough ie towards the 10,000 mark I think it would pay the community to offer a tax break over 10 years for home owners to install heat pumps. This would also help to build local self sufficiency.

    I think it would take a joint effort of all the groups to bring the reality home that we can’t rely on senior levers of government to reduce the local energy usage .. …it has to be done at the local level Fred

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