Where does the money for the HomeWarming program come from?
HomeWarming is offered by Efficiency Nova Scotia and Clean Foundation as part of a broad, province-wide initiative to provide energy efficient upgrades to income-qualified homeowners.
HomeWarming is proudly sponsored by Nova Scotia Power and the Province of Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia Power volunteered to fund $37 Million for a 10-year, low-income energy efficiency program for electrically heated homes to be delivered by the Clean Foundation. The cost of the program will be a charitable contribution by the company, and not recovered from ratepayers. This support started in 2015.
The Province of Nova Scotia continues to fund non-electric low-income energy efficiency programs, delivered by Efficiency Nova Scotia. The Province is committed to helping the more than 22,000 low-income homeowners lower their energy bills through this investment.
So far, over 11,000 households have benefited through HomeWarming and previous low-income programs.
Is the program really at no charge?
If we discover that upgrades like draft-proofing and insulation will substantially help substantially reduce your heating and power bills as well as make you feel more comfortable at home, we’ll install the upgrades at no cost to you. (Seriously – if you qualify, it’s free and really not too good to be true.)
I know someone else who was in HomeWarming, and their house got a lot more work done. Why?
Every home gets recommendations based on a comprehensive energy audit. We look for the best combination of energy-saving upgrades.
Plus, every house is unique. For example, an improved heating system is not a good recommendation if a house has very poor insulation and requires draft-proofing; no need to spend your hard-earned money heating the backyard, so we focus on these improvements first.
And we do not have an unlimited budget, so we do have to make some hard decisions – there are participants and homes that might get priority over others.
Am I disqualified if I have a home business?
No, as long as your business occupies less than 50 per cent of the building area and you are still under the income eligibility levels, you can apply to HomeWarming. If in doubt, give a shout.
Do I have to book the contractors myself?
No, we will manage sub-contractors. We work with experienced, safe and whenever possible local companies who know the energy efficiency industry.
What if I disagree with the recommendations you make?
There is no obligation on your part to move ahead with recommended upgrades. If possible, within the confines of the program and the energy efficiency analysis, we will work with you to explore changes to the suggested plan.
We understand some people may not be happy with what we can offer. We do not have an unlimited budget, so we do have to make some hard decisions – there are participants and homes that might get priority over others.
I own a mobile home. Does that qualify?
Absolutely! We always say – when in doubt, call us.
I don’t own a home, I rent an apartment – can I still be involved?
Not at this time. We recognize that many Nova Scotians living on a lower income are renters. However, rental situations are complex as we want to ensure savings are passed on to renters, for example. We are exploring rental options and will update the program if deemed possible.
How much will I save on heating and power?
This is a difficult question to answer, as every house is unique. The age of the home is also an important factor – newer homes tend to be better insulated, while older homes can have limited, or no, insulation. That’s why it is a challenge to give an average amount you will save after participating in HomeWarming.
However, many homes see their EnerGuide ratings improve substantially, and many homes have become 30 percent more energy efficient – or even higher. Many report saving on their bills, and say they feel warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer.
What happens if I decide to sell my house during the process?
HomeWarming has the expectation that you will not sell your house within 12 months at a minimum. If you sell your house within a year, your participation in HomeWarming is cancelled.
Who sets the low-income figures? I think they are too low.
These figures are adjusted each year and based on Statistics Canada’s before-tax low-income qualification figures. While we acknowledge that these don’t always encompass the full range of situations that people find themselves in, we need to use consistent eligibility criteria.
I make too much and don’t fit in the low-income cut-off figures. Are there other programs I can get involved in?
We’d encourage you to look at the programs offered by Efficiency Nova Scotia. Some municipalities also offer low-cost financing for energy efficiency and cleaner energy upgrades. And Nova Scotia Power offers a financing program for heat pumps.
You might also want to check out the Heating Assistance Rebate Program (HARP). It helps with the cost of home heating for low-income Nova Scotians who pay for their own heat. Rebates range from $100 to $200.
What is the process if I qualify for HomeWarming?
Once you are qualified, the process is easy:
- Home Energy Assessment: A Certified Energy Advisor will evaluate your home and determine the upgrades needed, if any, to make your home substantially more energy efficient and comfortable.
- Home Upgrades: Then, they will call you to set up appointments to make the upgrades approved for your home (please note: some homes may not be suitable for upgrades)
- Final Assessment: When all the upgrades have been completed, they will come back and perform a final assessment of the improvements made to your home.
We will take care of everything for you. All you have to do is be home for the evaluations and while the work is being done.
What’s the difference between HomeWarming and other housing programs in Nova Scotia?
HomeWarming is targeted at homeowners in Nova Scotia who are living on a low income. If you qualify, we work with you to determine the best energy efficient upgrades for your home – and we have them installed at no cost to you.
Some municipalities also offer low-cost financing for energy efficiency and cleaner energy upgrades.
Have there been other programs like HomeWarming?
Yes. HomeWarming is built on previous low-income energy efficiency programs run by Efficiency Nova Scotia and Clean Foundation. From 2006 to 2014, over 7,000 homes received energy efficiency upgrades.
The program known as HomeWarming started under that name in late 2014.