At a time of the year when the nights are long, the temperatures are dropping and we’re starting to think about those higher energy bills we tend to receive over the winter, the government of Ontario has announced a new program that will offer rebates to help homeowners with the costs of making their homes more energy efficient.

Offering rebates for low-carbon, energy-efficient changes that include new windows, new insulation, heat pumps and smart thermostats, the rebate system was announced Dec. 13.

It will be administered through the Green Ontario Fund, a non-profit provincial agency that is funded by the provincial government’s cap-and-trade program on pollution and carbon market. The provincial agency says these changes can help homeowners save money on energy bills and help reduce greenhouse gas pollution in the province.

The website for the Green Ontario Fund says another benefit from things like new energy-efficient windows is that they can increase the resale value of a home.

In a press release, Chris Ballard, Ontario’s Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, said the new program “will make it easy and more affordable for people to fight climate change by choosing low-carbon ways to improve their homes.”

Speaking at the announcement in Toronto, Ballard gave a few examples of how the program could help homeowners.

“If you’ve got a cold second floor or extension that just never warms up, then the Green Ontario Fund is here to help. Our homes are under-insulated. The older your home, the more money is leaking out through heat, through cold. Money is leaking, along with greenhouse gas pollution.”

To qualify for the rebates, homeowners must meet the requirements of the specific renovations, as spelled out in the program. Homeownerrs must also work on the renovations with a participating contractor who has been screened and qualified under the program and who will help homeowners with the necessary paperwork to qualify for the rebates.

The rebates apply to these renovations, if they properly meet the requirements of the program:

Windows: Up to $5,000 to replace windows that meet specific requirements of the program.

Insulation and Air Sealing: Up to $7,200 off new insulation, depending on how many parts of your home you insulate, and a $100 rebate for air sealing that is done in conjunction with the insulation. The website for the Green Ontario Fund says that upgrading your insulation can help you save up to 15 per cent on heating and cooling expenses.

Ground Source Heat Pumps: Up to $20,000 for Energy Star-certified ground source (geothermal) heat pumps, or up to $4,500 to repair existing heat pumps.

Air Source Heat Pumps: Up to $5,800 off an Energy Star-certified air source heat pump (ASHP), or pumps that meet program requirements. An Air Source Heat Pump uses a heat exchanger to draw heat from the outside air to warm your home more efficiently. In the summer it works in reverse to help keep the home cool.

Smart Thermostat Models: You can receive a $100 rebate from the Green Ontario Fund and Save On Energy when you purchase one of five eligible smart thermostat models for your home. Tenants can also apply for this rebate, but must receive consent from the landlord to participate.

To read more about the rebates for the different renovations and to see how you can qualify, you can visit the website for the Green Ontario Fund, at www.greenon.ca

On the site you can click on the different renovations, such as the insulation programs, to read how they work and how you can apply. The site also has a list of qualified contractors in your region.

In announcing the new rebate program, the province also announced a free telephone advice service that homeowners can call for impartial advice from energy experts. These experts can offer specific information geared to your home, on how to save money and reduce your carbon footprint through home upgrades.

You can contact the information centre at 1-888-728-8444.

If you’re considering buying or selling property in the coming months, I’d love to meet and chat with you about the current Ottawa market and the expertise I can offer, with more than 30 years as a Realtor in the Ottawa area. You can give me a call at 613-747-4747. You can also visit my website, at www.nancybenson.com, to read about the services we offer buyers and sellers and to see my current listings.