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Let's Talk Home Retrofits with Walter Bauer

In February/2021, our federal government announced the Greener Homes Grant.

The Canada Greener Homes Grant will invest $2.6 billion over 7 years to help up to 700,000 Canadian homeowners across the country improve the energy efficiency of their homes and reduce their energy bills.”

At first glance, this sounds impressive. Unfortunately, 700,000 only represents approximately 10% of Canadian detached single-family homes.

The program launched in late May/2021. As of the end of January/2022, eight months after kickoff, Greener Homes has already received 180,000 applications.

In our home, we replaced an old natural gas furnace with an all-electric heat pump. The energy audit indicated we would save 2.7 tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, annually. No other retrofit action accomplishes as much.

Other selected retrofits include, switching low with high-efficiency furnaces, reducing infiltration, replacing windows and/or increasing the amount of insulation (typically in the attic.) While beneficial, these actions are less effective than a heat pump. No more than ten percent of homeowners are applying to install a heat pump.

Optimistically, we might assume an average annual saving per retrofitted household of 2 tonnes of GHG emissions. Across 700,000 homes, the Greener Homes Grant will reduce GHG emissions by 1.4 megatonnes (Mt). This calculation is corroborated by Ottawa’s statement the program “will help cut Canada’s greenhouse-gas emissions by up to 1.5 megatonnes by 2027”.

According to Environment Canada, in 2019, Canadian homes added 42 megatonnes of GHG emissions. By 2028, the Greener Homes Grant will therefore only reduce GHG emissions by 3.5%. Our government has committed to GHG reductions of 40-45% by 2030.

It gets worse. The above calculation does not account for approximately 50,000 new single detached homes being built every year, each of which will contribute an average of 4 tonnes per year. These new-home emissions will exceed the reductions from the retrofits.

Not enough is being done, we are losing ground.

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