Bring comfort and energy efficiency to your home with Clean Energy Financing
“You can feel the air coming in through the windows and up from the basement.”
It’s a common refrain from countless Nova Scotians preparing for another long winter. Many of our homes are poorly insulated, and some are barely insulated at all. Blake McDonald of Bridgewater would often see ice on the inside of his windows. His family’s 19th-century farmhouse certainly had character, but not a lot else in the walls.
“We were drawn to the house because of its history and location,” says Blake, “and we knew it would be cold. But even with some electric space heaters, we went through three tanks of oil between mid-October and the end of December in our first year. And it was going to get worse.”
Blake, his wife, and two young children, moved into the house knowing it needed work: the floors were in rough shape, and the earthen basement still housed the original well. They also wanted to insulate and draft-proof, add a heat-pump and, maybe someday, install some solar panels. They wanted to reduce their energy usage and make the energy they use cleaner.
In another corner of Nova Scotia, Heidi Tudor sips tea while looking out the living room window of her 200-year-old house, a loyal and very relaxed golden retriever sharing a corner of the couch. She takes in a view as expansive as the Atlantic Ocean.
Heidi lives on Long Island in the Bay of Fundy, separated from Digby Neck by the ‘Petit Passage’ and from Brier Island by the ‘Grand Passage.’ The view from her home is one she, her husband, and their two adopted daughters never tire of. But sometimes, after getting their heating bills, Heidi felt like they were also heating the great outdoors the family enjoys so much. “We’ve had some enormous power bills,” she says, “and our house was still so cold.”
Like Blake – and many Nova Scotians – Heidi wanted to invest in energy efficiency upgrades to make her home warmer, and to save money in the long run.
Unfortunately, for too many homeowners, the large upfront costs of clean energy retrofits are prohibitively high. A more realistic solution is often donning a thicker sweater while trying not to think about your wallet as the furnace grinds on and on.
That’s why the Town of Bridgewater, the Municipality of the District of Digby – and seven other towns and municipalities in Nova Scotia – joined forces with Clean Foundation to run a unique program that helps homeowners make clean energy and efficiency upgrades to their homes in a way that’s affordable for them.
Through Clean Energy Financing, participating towns and municipalities pay upfront for energy efficiency and clean energy upgrades, and the homeowners pay back the low-cost financing over time. Clean Foundation, a non-profit environmental organization based in Nova Scotia, manages the program on behalf of the nine towns and municipalities.
Here’s what makes Clean Energy Financing so appealing – through a careful assessment of your home’s efficiency and energy use, and then tailored recommendations from an experienced energy advisor, you could save as much or more on energy bills than what you are paying for the retrofits and cost of borrowing. The program even makes sure you get all the Efficiency Nova Scotia, SolarHomes, and Canada Greener Homes rebates you are eligible for.
It’s an investment in your home that should pay for itself, make your house warmer, and reduce your carbon footprint. Upgrades can include insulation, energy efficient windows and doors, as well as high efficiency heat pumps, hot water heaters, and heat recovery ventilators. For some homes, solar panels also make sense. A Home Energy Assessment determines what upgrades are the best ‘bang for the buck’ for each individual house.
“Over the course of the financing, the upgrades should save you more money than what you are repaying on a monthly basis,” says Leon de Vreede, the Sustainability Planner for the Town of Bridgewater. “It doesn’t cost you any money out-of-pocket, and you are saving money from day one.”
“We got involved to help homeowners upgrade to energy efficiency in their home through things like heat pumps, insulation, windows, and electric thermal storage,” adds Terry Thibodeau, Coordinator of Renewable Energy and Climate Change for the Municipality of Digby. “And once they’ve saved enough in energy to pay for the retrofits, it’s disposable income in their pocket and money saved for other purposes in their home.”
Blake McDonald of Bridgewater agrees that this financing approach is a great selling point. “By paying back the financing on a monthly basis, it makes it much more manageable, budget-wise. And because of the program, we were able to get cellulose insulation blown into our attic, which is a pretty big space, and spray foam in the basement. We also had some windows replaced, because drafts were a big problem.”
Putting the kettle on for tea in his family’s inviting and now much warmer kitchen, Blake says their home is so much more comfortable. “And we went down from three tanks of oil in two-and-a-half months to just half-a-tank in a month-and-a-half.”
“It’s had an immediate, positive impact on our finances. It’s been dramatic.”
Up on Long Island, Heidi Tudor gives a tour of her house with original beams and stories etched into the walls. “Clean Energy Financing came onboard with insulation in the attic and the basement, and a heat pump in the kitchen.”
Her dog opens his eyes but doesn’t move as Heidi heads to a now cozy kitchen to make a snack for her daughters, who just returned from a long bike ride around the island they call home. “This kitchen was cold, and now it’s the warmest. It’s where we enjoy hanging out the most.”