‘Windows’ of opportunity for home retrofits 

Rebates for climate-friendly upgrades
Tuesday, May 9, 2023
By Thomas Noël

Residential and commercial buildings reportedly account for 17 per cent of Canada’s total greenhouse gas emissions. In low-rise homes, including condos, up to 35 per cent of heated air can be lost through the windows during the heating season, contributing to higher costs for owners and unsustainable energy consumption.

Some windows are better at keeping heat within a home, especially as their technology significantly improves. According to a report from Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), broadly deploying the best innovations would reduce total home energy use by 9 per cent and GHG emissions by more than 5 megatonnes.

For instance, windows with the ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2023 designation (ER of ≥40 with U-Factor of ≤ 1.05 (0.18) are now considered to be the best rated windows. They are made from cellular PVC, such as RevoCell windows, which have the highest energy rating for residential windows in Canada.

Why does this matter?

The Canadian government launched an ambitious plan called the Canada Greener Homes Grant in May of 2021 for primary homeowners in the amount of a $5,000 grant to retrofit existing homes.

By replacing, for example, old windows with more energy efficient windows, homeowners are able to save money on heating costs while lowering GHG emissions, which will help permit Canada to reach its climate objectives as laid out in the Paris Agreement in 2015.

Since Canada’s emissions trajectory for GHG emissions is projected to be 742Mt in 2030 and Canada’s target is 523 Mt6, the federal government decided to expedite things and has expanded the eligibility of the grant for different types of homes for Ontarians exclusively. In January of 2023, NRCan formed a joint venture with Enbridge Gas and is now offering grants of up to $10,000 in Ontario called the Home Efficiency Rebate Plus (HER+) program.

Eligible types of dwellings under the HER+ program

· Single and semi-detached homes

· Row housing

· Townhomes

· Low-rise multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs) which are three storeys or less with a footprint not exceeding 600 m2.

Homes that do not qualify for the program

· Homes that are not the owners’ primary residence and do not have an active Enbridge Gas account

· MURBs with more than three storeys or larger than 600m2

· Cooperatives

· Homes built less than six months ago

· Mixed use buildings that are less than 50 per cent residential.

To be eligible for the HER+ $10,000 grant for energy retrofits, the home must be located in Ontario and heated with natural gas provided by Enbridge Gas. This is also applicable to rental properties; hence property managers should take note of this new program.

For example, an owner who has five townhouses in Ontario, all heated with natural gas provided by Enbridge Gas, can be eligible for the $10,000 grant for each townhouse. Each townhouse requires an individual gas meter to be eligible.

Where to start?

Contact a registered energy advisor to schedule a pre-retrofit energy assessment to see if the home/townhouse/MURBs is eligible for the HER+ grant ($10,000) or the Greener Homes grant ($5,000 for primary home owners that do not heat their homes with Enbridge Gas). Most reputable window and door companies that have energy efficient windows work hand in hand with credible energy advisors, whom they can recommend to the owner or property manager. The energy advisor will submit all the paperwork on their behalf. Once the work is completed, a post-retrofit EnerGuide evaluation is required. The rebate cheque can take approximately 16 weeks after the registered Energy advisor has summited the post-retrofit EnerGuide evaluation to HER+ portal.

The HER+ grants offer up to $325 per window opening if the old window is replaced with an ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2023 certified (ER of ≥40 with U-Factor of ≤ 1.05 (0.18)) window registered on the NRCan website. The window needs to be made in Canada to be eligible for the grant and be ENERGY STAR Most Efficient 2023 certified to get the maximum amount of money.

Once the condo board is informed of grant opportunities, a property manager can help guide cost savings, while reducing GHG emissions in your building.

Thomas Noël is the director of the condominium division for Nordik Windows and Doors, the largest window and door replacement company in Ontario for the residential sector, including townhouses and condominium complexes four storeys or less. Thomas Noël sits on the Expert Advisory Council for Windows for the Ministry of Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) and advised on the launch of the $2.6 billion Canada Greener Homes Grant.




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