Canada Greener Homes Grant ending early due to overwhelming popularity

CHARLOTTETOWN, P.E.I. — A federal grant focused on improving Canadian home energy efficiency is closing three years early because of its overwhelming popularity.

The Canada Greener Homes Grant was originally intended to have enough funding to continue until 2027, but the high number of applicants has resulted in the closure of the grant on Feb. 12, 2024.

The program provided grants from $125 to $5,000 for home efficiency upgrades and has gone to more than 165,000 Canadians, said Shireen Ali, communications advisor for Natural Resources Canada, in a statement issued by Natural Resources Canada to SaltWire on Feb. 14

“Throughout the program’s mandate, the government of Canada anticipates that the program will help more than half a million Canadians renovate their homes and reduce their bills,” the statement continued.

Despite the grant closing ahead of schedule, the federal government announced a new phase in the Canada Greener Homes Initiative aimed toward low- to median-income Canadian homes on Feb. 5. The start date of the new phase is currently unknown.

“We are readying the next phase of the Canada Greener Homes Initiative to offer more accessible support to families across the country who need it most while continuing to take action on climate change,” Jonathan Wilkinson, minister of energy and natural resources, said in a statement to SaltWire on Feb. 14.

Aaron and Christy Jargo, a retired couple from Murray River, P.E.I., received a grant through the Greener Homes Grant in 2023 and installed ground-mounted solar panels and a heat pump to improve their energy efficiency.

“It really for us was a no-brainer,” Aaron Jargo said when speaking to SaltWire on Feb. 14.

The couple used a variety of provincial funding programs, in addition to the Greener Homes Grant, and was happy with the speed, ease and care of the process and installation.

The entire process from application to completion was one year. Along with the installation, there was a detailed education on the science behind the technology and how to care for the equipment long-term.

“It was a very good educational tour. They didn’t just come on in and say, ‘OK, here you go,’ sign and leave. It was a guided by the hand process from beginning to finish,” Aaron said.

While the couple intended to make green energy improvements to their home in the long term, they explained they would not have been able to do so as quickly or as easily without the federal grant.

“We always wanted to do it, but the grant was the deciding factor,” Christy said, adding the couple was thrilled they were able to make the renovations happen with the help of the grant and that they were able to complete the process before the funds ran out.

“It reminds me of what we’ve done for our grandchildren. This house is going to be in the family for generations. Why not make it a green start?’ she said.

Despite the changing availability of federal funding, P.E.I. continues to offer Islanders a wide range of funding, rebates and grants for environmental home improvement projects.

Derek Ellis, the director of the sustainability division of the Department of Environment, Energy and Climate Action, spoke with SaltWire on Feb. 14 about the different programs and rebates offered through the province to support Islanders’ sustainable transition.

“Regardless of your income on P.E.I., there’s definitely a mature suite of programs available to you,” Ellis said.

P.E.I. has its eyes firmly fixed on 2040 as the year the province achieves net zero emissions and is expanding its list of programs and rebates for home improvements to meet this goal.

To date, programs ranging from home insulation to heat pump and solar installations are all available for eligible Islanders, and Ellis said the province intends to continue expanding these programs in the next several years.

“We know that our incentive programs are really important to driving emissions reductions."

Ellis said the provincial government also has a loan program that is interest-free for five years to support the upfront costs of home efficiency upgrades.

While he is not pleased with the early closure of the Greener Homes Grant, Ellis is confident current and future funding from the province will keep Islanders moving towards P.E.I.'s net zero targets.

“There is no cause for Islanders to worry whether there will be supports available to help facilitate home retrofits,” Ellis said.

Those who applied for the Canada Greener Homes Grant before Feb. 12 will not be impacted by the program closing, and their applications will be processed in 2024. Islanders interested in learning about what programs are available through the P.E.I. provincial government can do so online through the Net Zero Navigator.

Caitlin Coombes is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter, a position funded by the federal government. She can be reached by email at caitlin.coombes@saltwire.com and followed on X @caitlin_coombes.

Caitlin Coombes, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Guardian