Canada Greener Homes Initiative (CGHI) offers up to $5,600 of grants and up to $40,000 in interest-free loans to any homeowner for renovations to increase their home's energy efficiency or resiliency. Unfortunately, the program is quite bureaucratic, but the value of the grant is large enough to make going through the bureaucracy worth the effort for many Canadians. Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) administers this initiative. This initiative can only be used for a homeowner's primary residence (there is an exception to this rule for representatives of an indigenous Government or organization). Greener homes can’t be used for rental property or houses less than six months old. If your home is part of a condominium, you may need approval from your condo association or strata board.
Infrared imaging is used to determine the amount of heat loss from each section of the exterior of a building.
The first step for participating in this initiative is registering online on the grant portal. Residents of Quebec and Nova Scotia should register through their provincial programs (respectively Rénoclimat Quebec and Home Energy Assessment Nova Scotia), while residents of New Brunswick are encouraged to apply via their provincial program.
After registration, you would need to book a pre-retrofit EnerGuide evaluation. The pre-retrofit assessment is a licensed inspector coming to your home and providing you with a list of improvements to make your home energy efficient. This step is essential because one of the aims of this initiative is to create more jobs for energy advisors and contractors. But since the labour market for contractors is very tight, you might need to stay in line for a few months before being able to move forward in the process. This evaluation would likely cost you around $400. After this evaluation, you will receive:
After receiving your report, you can perform some of the suggested improvements (while documenting all your expenses), then have another home inspection to prove the effectiveness of your renovations. You can claim and receive your grant and possibly your interest-free loan at this stage. The full amount of the loan can only be paid after the effectiveness of your retrofits is documented. But you can request and advance up to 15% of the loan during the time you are performing your retrofits. You can use a home renovation loan which might be a HELOC or any other potential renovation loan, to bridge the time gap between your renovation expenses and your CGHG payments. The grant includes a total of $600 for pre and post-energy efficiency renovation inspections. It can cover up to $5,000 in actual renovation costs. Any payment by NRCan only occurs at the end of the process when your post-retrofit report and your retrofit cost documentation are all submitted. Currently, only costs that occurred after December 1, 2020, are eligible for reimbursement. Participants in this program are only allowed to purchase any needed supply from Canadian sources (Brick and mortar stores or online stores).
|Eligible retrofit||Maximum possible grant|
|Windows and doors||$5,000|
|Space and water heating||$5,000|
Insulation slows heat loss (in the winter) and heat gain (in the summer). It, therefore, reduces energy consumption which in turn saves money. You could benefit from insulating your ceilings, exterior walls, exposed floor, basement insulation, and crawl space.
|Grants available for insulation|
|Insulated place||Amount of insulation||Value of Grant|
|Attic||From 0 to R-50||$1,800|
|From R-12 to R-50||$1,800|
|From R-25 to R-50||$600|
|From R-35 to R-50||$250|
|Cathedral ceiling or flat roof||From 0 to R-20||$600|
|From R-12 to R-28||$600|
|From R-25 to R-28||$250|
|100% of side walls||Increasing insulation Between R-7.5 and R-12||$3,300|
|Increasing insulation Between R-12 and R-20||$3,800|
|Increasing insulation by more than R-20||$5,000|
|Exposed floor||Added insulation greater than R-20||$350|
|80% of basement header area||Increase R by more than 20||$240|
|50% of basement slab||R-3.5||$400|
|Basement side walls||Adding R-10 to R-22||$1,050|
|Adding more than R-22||$1,500|
|Crawl space exterior walls||Adding between R-10 and R-22||$1,040|
|Greater than R-22||$1,300|
|Crawl space ceiling||Greater than R-24||$800|
Insulating the ceiling is the highest priority as on one side it has the highest potential for losing heat. On the other hand, most Canadian homes have attics that enable non-invasive insulation. The grant amount available for insulating the ceiling depends on whether you have an attic or a cathedral, or a flat ceiling. It further depends on the initial and final insulation rating of your ceiling and is multiplied by the portion of the ceiling being insulated.
You can check the details on the amount of grant available on the NRCan website.
Rockwool is an effective thermal insulator used for insulating buildings. It can fit between wall studs to insulate exterior walls, or it can fit between floor joists to insulate the ceiling of your crawl space.
After the ceiling, exterior walls are probably the most significant contributors to your home's heat loss, with an average contribution of 20%. If your retrofit includes insulating more than 20% of your exterior walls, the insulation of your exterior walls is eligible for the Greener homes grant. Your eligibility would be pro-rated based on the portion of exterior walls you are insulating. As a result, a semi-detached house or an end unit would at most be eligible for 75% of the limit, while a middle unit rowhouse would qualify for half of the wall insulation grant amount.
If your home has any exposed floor, it can be an important contributor to the home's heat loss. Exposed floors include overhang (homes protrusion) and the floor above unheated spaces (like a garage). To take advantage of the greener homes initiative, all of your exposed floors should be insulated, and they should be greater than 120 square feet.
To be eligible for the grant, at least one of the following conditions should be satisfied.
Grants covering basement headers, walls and slabs can be combined. When both a basement and a crawl space are present, the combined grant for the basement and crawl space cannot exceed $1,500.
For insulating the crawl space, you have three options. To insulate exterior walls of crawl space from the outside, to insulate exterior walls of crawl space from the inside or to insulate the ceiling of the crawl space which is beneath your floor.
A blower door test is used to quantify and measure leaks in a building. All doors and windows are closed except for the door where the blower door is installed. The blower door has a fan sucking air out of the house. After taking into account the volume of the house, the drop in the air pressure inside the house determines the air tightness or air looseness of the building.
Reducing the amount of draft in your home or, in other words, increasing the air tightness of your home is the most important step towards increasing your home's energy efficiency. During your pre-retrofit home evaluation, the amount of leaks in your home is quantified, and a target is set for leaks from your home to be achieved. You qualify for a $550 grant if your home reaches this target. If you reduce the amount of leak from your house to 0.9 times the target, this grant increases to $810, and by lowering this leak to 0.8 times the target value, your grant would increase to $1,000. Note that any home requires ventilation, and if you successfully make your home airtight, you should install a heat recovery ventilator (hrv).
Windows and doors are significant contributors to heat loss because they would contribute to heat loss both via conduction and radiation. If your door or window is old, it is very likely energy inefficient, and you can make your home warmer, more energy-efficient and more pretty by replacing them.
You can fit the new door or window frame inside an old door or window frame, but to replace the glass sash or door without their frame would not be eligible for receiving any grant. Also after replacing your door or window you should keep their ENERGY STAR label until your post-retrofit inspection is finished.
Greener homes grant can offer a maximum of $250 for each door or window and a maximum of $5,000 for all doors and windows. The best part is that this retrofit not only makes your home more energy efficient but it also makes your home more beautiful.
Replacing a manual thermostat with a smart or programmable thermostat can qualify for a $50 grant.
Except for homeowners in northern and off-grid communities, furnaces and boilers are not eligible costs for receiving this grant. But a switch to a more efficient heating system is covered. This switch can be a very effective energy and cost-saving strategy as an average Canadian home spends more than 60% of its energy consumption on space heating.
Currently, most homes in Canada (and other countries) either burn fossil fuel (in a furnace) or pass electricity through an electric resistance (baseboard heater) to heat up. When using fossil fuel, you are converting chemical energy to thermal energy. To avoid polluting your home while burning fuel, the flue should exit the building and with it, part of the chemical energy which was converted to heat goes. So you might use around 75% of the energy you have paid for. On the other hand, electric resistors do not require any venting and can heat your home with 100% of the energy you paid for.
In general, heating by transforming another form of energy into heat is a very inefficient way to heat your home. It is far more efficient to heat your home by bringing in (pumping in) the heat from outside.
Over the past century, we have been using heat pumps to pump heat from inside our fridge and dump it inside our kitchen. The same technology is used to cool homes in the summer. An air-conditioner is a heat pump similar to a refrigerator. It pumps the heat from inside a building and dumps it outside. When running an air conditioner in reverse, you can pump the heat from outside and dump it inside the home. A heat pump can dump 2 to 3 times the energy it consumes as heat inside the house. The second law of thermodynamics teaches us that the most efficient heat pump is a heat pump which is working reversibly. Further, it teaches us that the efficiency of a heat pump is inversely proportional to the temperature difference between the cold and hot heat reservoirs.
You can receive grant money for the following heat pump options:
See the detailed conditions for the eligibility of your expenses here.
CGHG can be used to offset part of the cost of installing a residential photovoltaic electricity generation system.
CGHG can contribute to any of the following resilience measures if they are combined with an energy-saving measure.
There are other programs from provincial governments and utility companies that can help you transition to a less carbon-intensive home. And more generally, there are many government initiatives that Canadians might qualify to benefit from. For example, you can learn about Canada child benefits, and if you have children, you can calculate your child support entitlement.