Grants help turn homeowners green

High costs and interest rates will no longer prevent Yukoners from making their homes greener and more efficient.

High costs and interest rates will no longer prevent Yukoners from making their homes greener and more efficient.

Yesterday, the Yukon Housing Corporation announced it is launching six new programs to enhance energy efficiency in the territory.

“We look at it as a smorgasbord, or a buffet of programs,” said Jim Kenyon, the minister responsible for Yukon Housing.

Yukoners can choose and combine the available options to create a program that will benefit them the most.

The first option is zero per-cent financing on home-repair loans up to $35,000 if those repairs improve energy efficiency.

On top of that, a subsidy is available for low-income households to enable payments as low as $25 a month.

Option two is a similar loan of up to $30,000, with zero per-cent financing over the first 10 years (it rises to one per cent below existing home-repair program rates after that) to install alternative-energy systems.

Power systems, such as solar, wind and micro hydro are included. So are heat exchangers and pumps.

At this time, customers producing more energy than they need can’t sell the power to Yukon Energy.

“But it’s something we’ll be looking into as we move on,” said Archie Lang, minister of Energy, Mines and Resources.

Through the corporation’s third program, homeowners can apply for a grant of up to $400 to have energy evaluations performed on their homes as part of the federal ecoENERGY Retrofit initiative.

An energy adviser helps plan retrofits and renovations, and evaluates and certifies the home’s new efficiency, allowing the homeowner to apply for a federal rebate.

The fourth option, for owners of rental units, offers loans of up to $30,000 per unit at zero per-cent interest to repair or improve energy efficiency.

Fifth, people can upgrade their existing homes to meet GreenHome standards.

There are currently 20 green homes in the Yukon. It’s like R-2000 on steroids, noted Kenyon.

Homes upgraded to meet these standards can receive grants of up to $1,750, which is issued after the home is certified.

And for those building new dwellings, the sixth new program offers incentives to meet GreenHome standards.

There’s a grant of $4,500 to contribute to the cost of construction, $750 to help cover design costs, permits and inspections and $500 from the Energy Solutions Centre to purchase energy efficient appliances.

Lang also announced other new programs from the Energy Solution Centre.

A $100 rebate will be provided for anyone purchasing Energy Star electronics in communities powered by hydro, and $150 for those powered by diesel.

The rebate should be available by late August, Lang said.

“Plans are now being drafted for new ventures, such as purchasing and recycling working fridges, to offering rebates for the purchase of new, highly efficient stoves or boilers,” he added.

“The big winner on this is our construction industry,” said Kenyon.

Given the lot shortage this should give contractors more work in the short term.

Kenyon was unable to say how much the new programs would cost. It depends on the uptake, he said.

“Most of this is just jockeying interest rates, which is relatively easy,” said Kenyon.

However, Yukon Housing will need an additional two and a half staff members to run the program, he said.

That’s estimated to cost $350,000 over three years.

The total cost of the programs could be $750,000.

The programs expire March 31, 2009.