City Council approves Residential Energy Efficiency pilot program

In its July 16th meeting City Council unanimously approved the a $20 million Residential Energy Efficiency pilot program. 

Going by the name of "PAYS" (Pay as you save), the program will enable about 1,000 houses and 1,000 households in multi-residential buildings to take advantage of a novel financing mechanisms when retrofitting their homes. The city is currently finalizing the details of the program that is expected to launch by Q4 of 2013. The proposed pilot is expected to generate approximately 300 new jobs, create $1 million annually in operating cost savings for participants and reduce about 5,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions annually.

The program uses so called Local Improvement Charges that have traditionally been applied to finance common infrastructure such as sewers or streetscape improvements. In essence, the city will lend a property owner money to improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Rather than being carried by the individual property owner, these charges become attached to the property and are paid off with the property tax bill - as the savings generated through the retrofits are being realized. As a result, the often significant upfront capital barriers to reducing our energy bills and green house gas emissions are  lowered, making energy retrofits much more accessible for many of us. The program in its current designs assumes that individual home owners will access on average  $10,000 in funding from the city, while multi-residential buildings would qualify for on average $1 million in funding. 

Eligible improvements include but are not limited to:

  • Thermal envelope: such as attic, wall and basement insulation, air-sealing, window and balcony door replacement, solar walls, insulated cladding for exterior walls.
  • Mechanical systems: such as furnace and boiler replacement, water heater replacement, thermostats and controllers, drain water heat recovery systems, bi-level lighting in parking garages, hot water circulation pump controls.
  • Water efficiency: such as low-flow toilets and fixtures.

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