Calgary homeowners can now apply for loans to help with energy efficient home upgrades

Solar panels installed on an Alberta home, a project that can now be financed by the city's new program. (Submitted by Tera Born - image credit)
Solar panels installed on an Alberta home, a project that can now be financed by the city's new program. (Submitted by Tera Born - image credit)

Applications are now open for the City of Calgary's clean energy improvement program (CEIP), which provides financial assistance to Calgary homeowners who want to make their houses more energy efficient.

Five years in the making, the program allows homeowners to apply for low interest loans of up to $50,000 from the city for green energy upgrades to their properties.

Participants can tack the cost onto their property tax bills and repay it over a span of up to 20 years. There's also an option to repay it in full at any time without penalty.

"It's really just to help homeowners reduce their greenhouse gas emissions while also reducing their energy bills and making their home more comfortable," said Carlee Beaver, corporate environmental specialist at the City of Calgary and program manager of CEIP.

The list of eligible projects include adding solar panels, increasing insulation, upgrading lighting fixtures, buying a tankless hot water system and more.

During the four year pilot project, the $15 million program is expected to help an estimated 800 homeowners with the cost of upgrades, says Beaver.

Mayor Jyoti Gondek says Calgarians want to make energy efficient upgrades to their homes, but cost can be prohibitive — especially with inflation.

"With this program available to them, they can upgrade the things they want immediately and they can slowly pay it back through their property tax bill," said Gondek.

The program is funded by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. It will be administered by Alberta Municipalities, which has launched CEIP in a number of other Alberta cities, including Canmore, Edmonton and Lethbridge.

The application process

The first step is to submit a pre-qualification application for the program, says Beaver.

Then homeowners must undergo an EnerGuide home evaluation, "which is really to learn about their home energy performance and understand best options for home improvements," says Beaver.

Colin Hall/CBC
Colin Hall/CBC

Working with a qualified instructor under the program, the homeowner will submit a project application with their proposed upgrades.

"If approved and everything's eligible, they enter into a clean energy improvement agreement with the city, which is essentially their financing agreement for their approved project."

Once the upgrades are installed, the homeowner will submit final forms, undergo a post-project home evaluation and get an upgraded label on their home.

"And then they'll go through the repayment process over time, which is where they'll repay the financing through their regular property tax bill, making it really convenient for homeowners," said Beaver.

As for energy cost savings, Beaver suggests the home evaluation advisor will be able to advise Calgarians about what type of projects will save the most.