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Energy-efficiency and affordability tools that really pay off

There are two topics in housing that all Canadians seem to be talking about: affordability and sustainability. The federal government actually has a number of cost-neutral tools it can use to address both of these issues. The Canadian Home Builders’ Association (CHBA) has worked hard to find effective solutions for these issues and recently submitted eight great ideas to the federal government that address both of these topics.

Here are two of them:

Establish Renovation Tax Credits for Energy Retrofits

Energy retrofits offer by far the greatest energy savings potential, represent the most cost effective option, and deliver the best incremental improvements in terms of homeowner equity.  Given the very significant opportunity to improve the energy performance of the existing housing stock, a permanent Renovation Tax Credit for Energy Retrofits, using the Government of Canada’s EnerGuide Rating System, should be introduced. Such an initiative supports the improvement of the housing stock, homeowner equity, affordability through lower operating costs, homeowner energy literacy (through labelling and custom home reports) and fighting the underground economy by requiring receipts.

Although [falsely] perceived as “expensive”, such a tax credit can actually be cost neutral, when the benefits of reduced revenue loss to the underground economy are included. Government receipt‐based incentive programs have a proven record for suppressing underground economic activity. When the tax revenues gained from reduced underground cash activity are included in an assessment of such a program, and all of the socio‐economic benefits are also tallied, a well‐designed program can more than pay for itself.

Increase support to and promote the Government of Canada’s EnerGuide Rating System as the single national home energy rating system.

For Canadians to make smart decisions about the energy performance of their homes, they need solid information. This allows them to compare one house to another when purchasing a home, and supports informed decisions concerning upgrade options when improving an existing home.

To achieve these outcomes, it is essential to increase support for the Government of Canada’s EnerGuide Rating System for homes, and to ensure that it serves as the single national home energy rating and labelling system for all Canadian homes.

Supporting a system that provides this information to Canadians is an important federal role, facilitating inter-provincial harmonization and accelerating consumer energy literacy. Ongoing federal investment is needed to ensure all provincial, utility and other home energy programs in Canada can continue to use this single national system, and that it continues to be developed and improved to provide additional information to Canadians as their energy literacy increases.

The federal government has launched a website to gather ideas from Canadians to find solutions to reduce emissions, increase clean technology and prepare for the impacts of a changing climate. The website is, view CHBA’s submission and share it on facebook, twitter etc. or add a comment. CHBA’s submission can be found at

About the author: Anita DeVries the Executive Officer of the DRHBA

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