Stephen Rees's blog

Thoughts about the relationships between transport and the urban area it serves

Conservatives vote against helping Canadians save on home energy costs

with 4 comments

This is actually a Green Party of Canada Press Release. My expectation is that this topic is unlikely to get much coverage in the mainstream media.

I have to say as well that I did try to take advantage of the ecoEnergy Home Retrofit program, despite its somewhat cumbersome requirements. I did not get a penny from it. The simple reason being that while it was available it was almost impossible to get hold of tradespeople, who in any event at that time were also very much occupied on fitting out new build housing which was flooding the market. So when I bought an older townhouse in Richmond I got a new high efficiency gas furnace. I had to replace the hot water tank too and found there was no realistic alternative to like for like (tankless systems being only viable for larger households). I was then told by a City of Richmond gas inspector that if I installed a sealed system gas fire – to replace the negative efficiency open flame one – he would insist on the installation of a totally unnecessary air brick in an outside wall. This was because he did not understand the words  “coxial flue” and thought the new gas fire would need an additional supply of combustion air. At that point I gave up on a campaign with the strata council to speed up replacement of the windows and doors identified by the mandatory house inspection required by the ecoEnergy program which disqualified me from all rebates. And having replaced the extractor fans in both bathrooms I was not in a hurry to go back into the loft and add insulation up there.

Even so, and recognising that there is much more energy to be saved by cutting transportation emissions, I still think that retrofitting homes is a sensible thing to do, as the payback periods are shorten when energy costs rise. Of course the current glut of natural gas due to excessive fracking is not helping there either.


(Ottawa) September 25, 2014– In a House vote on September 24, 2014, Green Party Leader and MP for Saanich-Gulf Islands Elizabeth May and Green Deputy Leader Bruce Hyer, MP for Thunder Bay-Superior North, voted in favour of a motion to have the government establish a program to support energy efficient home renovation.  

Once again, the Harper Conservatives put partisanships ahead of good policy and voted it down.
“Canada wastes more than half the energy we use,” said Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party of Canada and MP for Saanich–Gulf Islands. “Heating the outdoors in the winter and then cooling it in the summer just doesn’t make any sense. I am stunned that the ecoEnergy program was cancelled by the Conservatives in 2012, at a huge cost to homeowners.  This motion would have brought the program back – yet sadly, the Conservatives voted against saving Canadians thousands of dollars in energy costs.”

NDP MP François Choquette’s motion M-497 stated that an energy efficiency program would help to combat climate change while reducing Canadians’ energy bills and creating jobs.

“It was disappointing, if not unexpected, to watch almost every Conservative MP in the House stand against a proposal that could have restored the successful energy efficient home retrofit program,” Hyer said. “This motion was a no brainer. The Conservatives could have killed two birds with one stone – creating jobs while lowering carbon emissions. It’s beyond me why any government would oppose it.”

In 2012, the Conservatives cancelled their own ecoEnergy Home Retrofit program without warning. The ecoEnergy program gave out grants of up to $5,000 to homeowners to help pay for energy efficient upgrades like replacing furnaces, improving insulation and sealing windows and doors.

The program helped over 750,000 Canadians during its five years, saving users an average of 20% on their home energy bills every year, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and adding up to $4 billion to the Canadian economy. It increased government revenue and created thousands of jobs.

“EcoEnergy brought huge benefits to the environment, the economy and the average Canadian.  It was particularly significant in Northwestern Ontario, where the cost of home heating is rising rapidly,” concluded Hyer.

Written by Stephen Rees

September 25, 2014 at 11:29 am

4 Responses

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  1. There have been several programs around, but they always seemed cumbersome to take advantage of. Paying for a home energy audit to collect a rebate that might be smaller than the cost of the audit always struck me as a complete waste of effort.

    Twice we’ve replaced old windows with new EnergyStar rated ones and enjoyed the lowered noise levels and heating bills, but neither time did we jump through the hoops required to claim a rebate.

    David

    September 26, 2014 at 11:33 am

  2. We commissioned double glazed windows with storms for several key windows a couple of years ago on our old timer and it made a world of difference in reducing energy loss and eliminating air leaks. The storm windows also have laminated glass for sound attenuation, which works well as we live a block from a busy arterial with the attendant rat running on parallel streets.

    We also had a high-efficiency furnace installed at the same time and qualified for both federal and provincial grants as well as a rebate from the furnace manufacturer, all of which offset about 40% of the cost and made it worth it. Our old furnace was over 45 years old and unsafe.

    No regrets at all here … except to see the feds cancelling programs that actually help people save money and the planet together. No surprise with the current government.

    MB

    September 29, 2014 at 4:38 pm

  3. Along the lines of MBs comments in our 1973 3-storey frame & stucco condo near Broadway & Fraser, the engineer working with us suggested we could half our energy consumption by upgrading to double glazing & adding R-on-the-roof next time we re-roof. That would be a $250 per suite saving per year. Just about equal to the maintenance cost.

    Where we could use help from government is in financing the job. With 60 suites we will have $30k per year for that once the roof and the windows are done. But it is still going to be a hard-sell with the owners in the mean time.

    lewis n. villegas

    September 30, 2014 at 12:01 pm

  4. I am sad, but not surprised to see the Feds eliminate the rebates. Second time around we had fully intended to take advantage of all the federal, provincial, etc. rebate programs with more efficient heating and a tankless hot water system, but we discovered a leaky pipe that necessitated toxic mould removal and significant structural repairs. Paranoid that another pipe had already or would soon spring a leak inside a wall we put what was left of our efficiency upgrade money into replacing the entire supply side plumbing system.

    David

    September 30, 2014 at 1:08 pm


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