Ottawa homeowners are now eligible for zero-interest loans for home energy efficiency improvements!
The City of Ottawa is piloting a loan program for up to three years for home energy efficiency retrofits, to support local residents to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.
The program offers zero-interest, 20-year loans of up to $125,000 (or 10 percent of the current value assessment of the home, whichever is less) to cover the cost of home energy improvements like thermal envelope upgrades (basement/attic/exterior wall insulation, window/door replacements), mechanical systems (thermostats and controllers, air/ground source heat pumps, solar hot water systems), renewable energy (solar photovoltaic systems), EV chargers (Level 2), and the addition of rental suites (up to a maximum of 30% of the value of the loan).
With zero-interest, 20-year loans that are tied to the property, not the individual, the Better Homes Ottawa – Loan Program makes it easier and more affordable for homeowners to pay for these home improvements over time. The minimum loan amount which will be issued to an applicant is $15,000.
Better Homes Ottawa – Loan Program 101
This new program run by the City of Ottawa provides local residents with zero-interest loans of up to $125,000 to cover the cost of home energy improvements.
Participation in the program is voluntary and homeowner initiated. Eligibility requirements are as follows:
- Residential, detached, semi-detached, townhouse, residential multi-unit buildings of 3 stories or less, that fall under Part 9 of the Ontario Building Code
- The property must have a property tax account with the City of Ottawa;
- Property tax, utility bills and all other payment obligations to the City of Ottawa for the past five years must be in good standing. If it is not, the homeowner must submit a suitable credit check;
- The property must not be in either CHMC’s Mortgage Deferral Program or the City’s Tax Deferral Program; and
All registered owner(s) of the property must sign a consent form agreeing to participate in the Program.
Financing that is received by a homeowner is designated for capital costs with an expected life expectancy for 20 years or greater and for measures that are permanently affixed to a property. Eligible measures for financing must be Energy Star certified where applicable.
The non-exhaustive list of the categories of measures eligible under the Program, subject to any permitting and regulations, includes:
- Thermal envelope upgrades: attic, walls, foundation, and basement insulation and associated requirements such as attic ventilation, foundation drainage and waterproofing; air barriers, air sealing, and weather stripping; windows, skylights, tubular daylighting devices, exterior window shadings or films, and exterior door replacements (provided they are around heated space); green roofs;
- Mechanical systems (space heating, cooling, and ventilation): thermostats and controllers, energy or heat recovery ventilators, air source heat pumps, ground source heat pumps, biomass wood heaters, heat distribution systems, duct sealing, fans, associated electrical equipment as required;
- Mechanical systems (water heating): high-efficiency water heaters (e.g., heat pump, electric water tanks, etc.), drain water heat recovery systems, solar hot water systems;
- Renewable energy and energy storage and EV chargers: solar photovoltaic systems, electric vehicle charging stations (Level 2), battery storage devices, associated electrical and load management equipment;
- Water efficiency: low-flow toilets, hot water circulation pump and system, greywater treatment system, closed-loop shower water recovery system, rainwater harvesting system (subject to eligibility criteria);
- Health and safety measures such as environmental remediation, electrical wiring and panel upgrades that are required undertakings to permit energy improvements;
- Climate adaptation improvements such as back-flow prevention valves, sump pumps, basement waterproofing, permeable pavement, and tree planting.
- Other items (costs for “other” items combined must not exceed 30% of the total loan value):
- Audit costs, permit costs, demolition costs, paint and drywall repairs related to insulation improvements, waste or asbestos removal related to retrofits;
- Additional dwellings such as granny suites or basement apartments.
Step 1: Complete a pre-retrofit EnerGuide assessment. This assessment provides an NRCan EnerGuide rating for the home and recommends improvements that are customized for the home.
Step 2: Complete the Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program Application Form.
Step 3: If the homeowner’s Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program Application Form meets all requirements of the program, the homeowner is issued a Notice to Proceed. Here, the homeowner receives a Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program File Reference Number.
Step 4: The homeowner can apply to any rebate programs they may be eligible for and get estimates from contractor(s). Eligible costs are those that are incurred after the Notice to Proceed is issued.
Step 5: Submit your Funding Request Form. At this stage of the process, a homeowner can choose to request 30% of funds upfront to cover deposits.
Step 6: Retrofit your home!
Step 7: Complete a post-retrofit EnerGuide assessment after the retrofit projects. This assessment provides an updated EnerGuide rating for the home.
Step 8: Sign the Property Owner Agreement and submit a Project Completion Report.
Step 9: The City of Ottawa provides the balance of the loan to the homeowner that they can use to pay contractor(s).
Step 10: The homeowner repays the loan over time via their property tax bill. A homeowner can choose to pay off the loan in a lump sum at any point without penalty.
Does my home qualify for the Better Homes Ottawa – Loan Program?
You can find all the eligibility criteria for the Better Homes Ottawa – Loan Program here.
What measures are eligible for the Better Homes Ottawa – Loan Program?
You can find a full list of eligible measures here. If you have questions, or you don’t see the measure you want listed, contact email@example.com.
How long is the payback period for the Better Homes Ottawa – Loan Program?
The loan can be paid back over a twenty year period, or you can pay it back as quickly as you choose by making lump-sum payments.
What does it mean that this loan is attached to my property?
The Better Homes Ottawa Loan is tied to your property, and not on the individual’s credit rating. That means that if you sell your home, the new owner will take on the repayment of the loan – and also all the energy savings gained. This reduces the risk to you of investing in a property you may only own for a shorter period of time. You’ll get all the energy savings gains while you live there, and when you move, the payments (and gains) transfer to the new owner.
What is the interest rate on the loan?
The Better Homes Ottawa Loans are zero interest. That’s one reason to act fast!
How is the value of my home assessed?
Similarly to the process used to determine your property tax, your home value is based on your MPAC assessment. You can find this value assessment on your most recent property tax bill or online at MyServiceOttawa (to set up an account, follow these instructions).
Can I apply for the Better Homes Ottawa Loan twice?
Yes, provided that you stay under the lower of 10% of property value cap or $125,000.
What happens if I do not complete all the work I planned?
Only the completed work and submitted receipts will be eligible for the loan value. The air sealing improvement requirement, if applicable, must also be met.
What is the minimum amount I will be eligible for?
Please note that the minimum loan amount which will be issued to an applicant is $15,000.
What if I want to borrow more to complete all the work I planned?
You can apply for up to the lesser of $125,000 or 10% of the value of your property for eligible costs.
How do I know which measures will save me the most energy?
To be eligible for the Better Homes Ottawa Loan, you will need to have a home energy assessment by a registered energy advisor. This report will tell you which measures will save you energy, and will provide recommendations for your home on the order in which to do the measures, and a few possible pathways to retrofit your home. You will also receive a report outlining how to get your home to net-zero energy. Then, if you need more assistance, you can schedule a session with one of our Energy Coaches, call our Retrofit Navigator, or sign up for the full Home Retrofit Planner Service.
Why is a secondary suite considered an energy efficiency measure?
Good question. The short answer is that homes that share inside walls generally use less energy per square foot to heat and cool. That means multi-unit buildings are a better bet for energy efficiency. They also create more homes per square foot in the urban centre, which is great for densification and for addressing our housing shortage.