End of eco-friendly home program could cost jobs
Jon Woodward, ctvbc.ca
Published Friday, March 18, 2011 4:22PM PDT
Thousands of jobs are at stake if the Conservative government's plan to cancel an eco-friendly home renovation program goes ahead, according to an industry lobby group.
If the ecoENERGY program is scrapped at the end of March, it could put assessors and contractors who depend on the program out of a job, while many Canadian homes that could be made more energy efficient will continue to waste power and natural gas, according to Jeff Murdock.
"This industry will lose an important incentive for job creation," said Murdock, whose company, Building Insight Technologies, audits homes to find out how their owners can save on energy.
Since 2007, the ecoENERGY program has given rebates to homeowners who are retrofitting their homes. It's similar to a 2003 program introduced by the Liberal government at the time.
Nearly half a million homeowners got $639 million in grants that provide incentives to hire contractors to make their homes more energy efficient in the past four years.
The Conservative government plans to end the rebate program by the end of March. Officials wouldn't agree to an interview with CTV News, but a spokeswoman did send an email justifying the move.
"The four-year ecoENERGY Retrofit-Homes program has been successful in meeting its goals and will be ending as originally scheduled," said Natural Resources Canada spokeswoman Jacinthe Perras.
Murdock says there's still a lot of work to be done by the roughly 1,000 contractors who depend on the program for their livelihood.
"These government programs have impacted less than 10 per cent of the housing stock," he said. "We've got 90 per cent of houses left to retrofit."
Every dollar spent on a homeowner grant leads to $2 in new tax income, because the grants only cover a fraction of the renovation cost, Murdock said. The rest come from the homeowner.
Luke Dolan's company, Capital Home Energy, assesses homes to find the best way to retrofit the insulation and furnace, among other things.
His measurements on Ken Mackenzie's North Vancouver home show that it's improved a lot.
Mackenzie will save about $200 a year on natural gas and electricity. Through the ecoENERGY program, he will get $1,400 immediately.
It would take seven years to recoup that cost in energy saved -- and more to recoup the final cost of the $5,500 furnace and insulation upgrades.
Mackenzie said it was the ecoENERGY program that encouraged him to retrofit the house.
"It's broken down so simply that you can see where you can be far more cost-effective and that becomes the key," he said.
Dolan said he prides himself on helping homeowners improve their efficiency -- and he hopes the program doesn't get scrapped.
"There are a lot of outfits, guys like me, who have invested a lot of energy in this and I hope it continues," he said.