Lifestyle

Incentive programs boost energy savings

As home heating oil and electricity prices continue to rapidly rise, increasing numbers of homeowners and renters are looking for ways to reduce their energy bills.

Three strategies are in place, or soon will be, that will really help motivated owners and renters save money and increase comfort.

The first is government incentives worth several thousand dollars, the second comes from utility company loans and the third is a low-income program for homes heated electrically.

As of April 1, improved incentives became available through the provincial government’s Live Smart program. Despite cutbacks to this year’s federal government budget, more money is being put into home energy incentives.

The government was shown that the taxes gained from the increased economic activity generated when people update their homes more than pays for the incentives. A win-win for everyone but the energy companies.

For those living outside of cities in the Regional District of Nanaimo, a reduction in the cost of having the certified energy assessment is now also being offered.

The second approach to assist home energy improvements is essentially a return to more than a decade ago when B.C. Hydro offered low or no interest “loans” to encourage us to invest in the energy efficiency of our homes.

Lower resulting energy bills mean fewer defaults on bill payments, which energy companies like to hear.

Details are yet to be announced, but this program (coupled with the incentives) will very likely be popular, especially as people realise that the reduced energy costs typically make up for the loan.

A third program is offered by B.C. Hydro to renters or owners who are low income and whose homes (including apartments, condo’s, etc.) are heated electrically.

For more information call B.C. Hydro (Power Smart program) or see the Power Smart Home tab at www.bchydro.com. Look for the ‘Energy Conservation Assistance Program’.

These programs require an energy assessment. Considering the value of the assessment the cost is very minimal (or free).

A good advisor will come up with a number of ways to reduce the energy wasted as well as other options that can greatly reduce costs and improve comfort and the ability to stay warm when the power goes out.

With increasing numbers of storms that can knock out the power, and given that we live in an earthquake zone, energy security is important.

To find a local certified energy advisor check with the Natural Resources Canada website by searching for ‘NRCan advisors’.

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Ian Gartshore is an energy advisor and president of the non-profit Energy Solutions for Vancouver Island.

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