5 Smart Programs To Maximize Savings: Pre-Purchase Your Way to Energy Efficiency

5 Smart Programs To Maximize Savings: Pre-Purchase Your Way to Energy Efficiency
May 8, 2024

Congratulations! You're embarking on the exciting journey of homeownership. At Coldwell Banker Horizon Realty, we believe in empowering you with knowledge throughout the entire process. This includes helping you save money on your future home, not just after you buy it.

Canadian homes are known for being energy guzzlers. But what if you could significantly reduce your future energy bills before you even move in? By strategically leveraging pre-purchase energy-efficiency upgrades, you can not only save money in the long run, but potentially qualify for additional benefits like:

  • Increased resale value: Energy-efficient homes consistently attract more interested buyers.
  • Enhanced comfort: Upgraded insulation and systems lead to a more comfortable living environment.
  • Reduced environmental impact: Lower energy use translates to a smaller carbon footprint.

Let's Crunch the Numbers

The good news is there are a variety of government programs designed to incentivize energy-efficient home improvements. Here's how some of these programs can work for you,  even before you purchase your new home, with potential savings calculations:

1. CMHC Eco Plus

  • Eligibility: Open to homebuyers with a CMHC-insured mortgage purchasing a new, energy-efficient home.
  • Benefit:  25% rebate on the CMHC mortgage loan insurance premium.
  • Action: Prioritize new homes built to meet the latest energy efficiency standards (EnerGuide rating system).
  • Potential Savings: Let's assume a $500,000 mortgage with standard CMHC loan insurance premium of 2.80%. A 25% rebate translates to a $350 upfront saving.

2. CMHC Eco Improvement

  • Eligibility: Open to homebuyers with a CMHC-insured mortgage planning energy-efficient upgrades within two years of purchase.
  • Benefit:  25% rebate on the CMHC mortgage loan insurance premium.
  • Action: Factor in potential upgrade costs (e.g., attic insulation) during your home search. Discuss CMHC Eco Improvement with your realtor to see if it applies post-purchase.
  • Potential Savings: Using the same example from CMHC Eco Plus, imagine a $5,000 insulation upgrade. With the rebate, your out-of-pocket cost is only $3,750.

3. Canada Greener Homes Loan

  • Eligibility: Open to all Canadian homeowners for retrofits on existing homes.
  • Benefit: Interest-free loan of up to $40,000 to finance energy-efficient upgrades.
  • Action: Consider a pre-purchase home inspection with a focus on energy efficiency. This can identify upgrade areas and inform your decision on utilizing the loan after purchase.
  • Potential Savings: Upgrading your oil furnace to a high-efficiency electric heat pump (through the Oil to Heat Pump Affordability Program) could save you up to 50% on heating costs (assuming an average annual heating bill of $1,200). That's a potential saving of $600 per year.

4. Oil to Heat Pump Affordability Program

  • Eligibility: You must be a homeowner in Canada using oil as your primary heating source for your principal residence. The new electric heat pump system must be installed by a licensed contractor.
  • Benefit: Rebates of up to $10,000 are available to help offset the cost of purchasing and installing a new heat pump system.
  • Action: Consider switching from oil heating to a heat pump if your home is suitable. Combine this program with the Canada Greener Homes Loan to further reduce the upfront cost of the heat pump installation, maximizing your financial benefits.
  • Potential Savings: Heat pumps are significantly more efficient than oil furnaces. Estimates suggest savings of up to 50% on heating costs are achievable (assuming an average annual heating bill of $1,200). That translates to a potential saving of $600 per year. With rising oil prices, the cost savings from switching to a heat pump can continue to grow over time.

5. Provincial Program

Many provinces offer additional incentives. Here's an example from British Columbia:

  • CleanBC Better Homes and Better Buildings program: Rebates, grants, and access to qualified energy advisors for energy-efficient renovations.
  • Potential Savings: Rebates for insulation upgrades can range from $0.25 to $1.00 per square foot, with maximum rebate amounts varying depending on the program.  For instance, the Insulation Rebate Program offers a maximum rebate of $1,600. Let's assume you can get a $1,000 rebate for upgrading your attic insulation. This reduces your out-of-pocket cost from $5,000 (mentioned in CMHC Eco Improvement) to $4,000.

The Power of Pre-Purchase Planning

By strategically combining these programs, you can significantly reduce the upfront costs of energy-efficient upgrades and maximize your long-term savings. Let's revisit our initial example:

  • Upfront Savings (CMHC Eco Plus): $350
  • Reduced Cost (CMHC Eco Improvement): $1,250
  • Reduced Cost (CleanBC Insulation Rebate): $1,000
  • Potential Annual Savings (Oil to Heat Pump Conversion): $600

This adds up to a total potential upfront saving of $2,600 and annual savings of $600.

Remember, these are just examples, and the actual numbers will vary depending on your specific situation, home size, and chosen upgrades.

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