Kingston Better Homes Zero-Interest Loan for Home Energy Efficiency Improvements
Better Homes Kingston is a local improvement charge (LIC) financing program to encourage homeowners to undertake deep-energy retrofits. Homeowners who participate in the program will qualify for up to $40,000 loans at 0 per cent interest, with the option for an initial 30 per cent upfront to pre-pay contractors for your services. This project is carried out with assistance from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities’ Green Municipal Fund, an endowment created by the Government of Canada.
About the program
Home renovations are expensive. The Better Homes Kingston Program makes it easy and affordable for homeowners to retrofit their homes and pay for the improvement over a period of up to 20 years.
Better Homes Kingston Program is a no-interest property loan program, which residents can repay via their property tax bill over a period of up to 20 years. There is no penalty for paying your loan off early. Planning to move? The loan is tied to your property and remains with the home. This means the next owner will inherit the loan—and benefit from the retrofits it helped realize.
Through the Better Homes Kingston Program, homeowners can access a no-interest loan of up to $40,000 (or 10 percent of the current value assessment of the home, whichever is less), to cover the cost of home energy improvements.
Improvements might include upgrades to the following:
- Thermal envelope such as basement/attic/exterior wall insulation, window/door replacements)
- Mechanical systems, such as thermostats and controllers, air/ground source heat pumps, high-efficiency water heaters, solar hot water systems etc.
- Investment in renewable energy, such as solar photovoltaic systems, EV chargers (Level 2).
Through Better Homes Kingston, the City aims to help realize 25 – 50per cent of pre-1991 constructed one-family homes by 2040, achieving an average carbon reduction impact of 30per cent per home.
Was your home built after 1991? This does not preclude you from applying to the Better Homes Kingston program! So long as your home has potential GHG emissions / energy consumption savings of 20 per cent or more you may be eligible to participate.
How it works
Better Homes Kingston requires a minimum of 20 per cent reduction of GHG emissions and/or equivalent reduction in energy consumption for electrically heated homes to access loans and incentives.
All participants in the Better Homes Kingston Program will require an EnerGuide Home Energy Evaluation, completed by a Certified Energy Advisor or equivalent as certified by Natural Resources Canada. Not sure where you would find an Energy Advisor or “Coach”? Through the Better Homes Kingston Program, you will be put in direct contact with a qualified professional to get you started.
In cases where the applicant does not qualify for existing rebates for their home energy evaluation from a utility provider or senior government energy retrofit incentive program(s), they will be eligible to receive a $600 rebate from Better Homes Kingston, with 75per cent upfront to establish a base case for their home.
Alternate arrangements are also available for low-income applicants if the upfront cost of the home energy evaluation is prohibitive. Learn more by asking our Energy Coach
The following incentives offered to the first 500 applicants
- 20per cent to 25per cent reduction in emissions or energy consumption= $1,000
- 26per cent to 30per cent reduction in emissions or energy consumption= $3,000
- Greater than 30per cent reduction in emissions or energy consumption= $5,000
Participation in the program is voluntary and homeowner initiated. Eligibility criteria:
- The dwelling is a single-family residential building: detached houses, semi-detached houses, or row houses.
- All registered owner(s) of the property must consent to participate in the program.
- The home must have a property tax account with the City and all property taxes, utility bills and other payment obligations to the City must be in good standing.
- The homeowner must notify its mortgage lender (if applicable) of its intention to participate in the Better Homes Kingston Program.
Eligible home improvements
Applicants may receive financing for approved improvements with an expected useful life of five to 20 years and for measures that are permanently affixed to a property. Maintenance costs are ineligible. Eligible measures for financing must be Energy Star certified, where applicable.
Below, is a non-exhaustive list of the types of improvements eligible under the Better Homes Kingston Program, subject to permitting and regulations:
- Thermal envelope upgrades: attic, walls, foundation, and basement insulation and associated requirements such as attic ventilation, foundation drainage and waterproofing; air barriers; window, skylights and exterior door replacements; tubular daylighting devices and exterior window shadings or films; air-sealing and weather stripping.
- 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-pellet heaters, heat distribution systems, duct sealing, fans, associated electrical equipment as required.
- Mechanical systems (water heating): high-efficiency water heaters (i.e. heat pump, electric water tanks, etc.), drain water heat recovery systems, solar hot water systems.
- Renewable energy, energy storage and EV chargers: solar photovoltaic systems, electric vehicle charging stations (Level 2), battery storage devices, associated electrical and load management equipment, including but not limited to, electric thermal storage.
- Health and safety measures: this might include items like electrical wiring and panel upgrades that are required undertakings to permit energy improvements.
- Climate adaptation improvements: such as back-flow prevention valves, sump pumps and basement waterproofing.
- Other: Permanently affixed lighting, lighting controls, new energy efficient (certified) products will be considered as additional eligible technologies.
Step 1: Complete the Better Homes Kingston Program Application Form. If you have questions regarding your home’s eligibility, contact:
Step 2: Once it has been determined that you meet all the requirements of the program, the City will issue you (the homeowner) a Notice to Proceed. This typically takes 1 – 2 weeks. In the Notice to proceed you will learn:
- The maximum loan amount you’re entitled to receive
- Your Better Homes Kingston File Reference Number
- Details about the next steps in the program
Step 3: Register on the Better Homes Kingston Portal. You will be prompted to create an account and will need your Better Homes Kingston File Reference Number (which you will have received with your Notice to Proceed). Once registered, a Better Homes Kingston Energy Coach will work with you to book a pre-retrofit EnerGuide evaluation with a registered energy advisor. Following this evaluation, you will receive an NRCan EnerGuide Rating for your home and recommended improvements.
*If you have already had a pre-retrofit EnerGuide evaluation, you may still be eligible to participate, provided it was completed on or after Dec. 1, 2020.
Through our program you may be eligible for a rebate of 75 per cent of the cost of your pre-retrofit evaluation where you do not qualify for other existing rebates from Enbridge or the Greener Homes Grant. Alternative arrangements are available for low-income applicants.
Step 4: Homeowners who participate in Better Homes Kingston Program may still apply to rebate programs offered by others and receive quotes from contractors for the home energy improvements that have been identified in their pre-retrofit EnerGuide Evaluation.
The Better Homes Kingston Program Energy Coach is available to guide you through this process, including helping with detailed planning for your retrofit and maximizing cost savings and incentives.
Step 5: Once you have planned your retrofits and you are ready to get started, submit your Funding Request Form. At this stage in the process, a homeowner can choose to request 30 per cent of their funds upfront to cover contractor pre-payments. You will then be required to sign the Property Owner Agreement and wait to receive the fully executed agreement signed by the Mayor and City Clerk before proceeding. This can take 3 – 5 weeks to process.
Step 6: Retrofit your home.
Step 7: Once the retrofits are complete, participants are required to have a post-retrofit EnerGuide Evaluation completed by a registered energy advisor back to their home to complete a. This evaluation provides an updated EnerGuide rating for the home. This will verify if your home has met the 20 per cent minimum reduction in GHGs and/or energy consumption.
Step 8: Submit a Project Completion Report.
Step 9: Once the Project Completion Report is received, the City of Kingston will provide you with the balance of the loan. This can take 3 – 4 weeks before you receive your final loan disbursement.
Step 10: Welcome to your more efficient, affordable and comfortable home. You will have the option to repay your property loan over a period of up to 20 years through your property tax bill. A homeowner can choose to re-pay the loan in full at any time without penalty.