There is an urgent need for climate mitigation to reach Canada’s climate targets, as well as adaptation required in the face of increasingly challenging climate impacts being felt across British Columbia. In addition, the Province is grappling with serious affordability and housing challenges. Home energy efficiency upgrades represent a strong opportunity to address these interconnected issues by lowering energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions, improving resilience to extreme weather, increasing quality of life, and reducing inequities (see Housing and energy profile section). The BC Provincial and Canadian Federal governments are both offering financial incentives that can significantly reduce the cost of retrofits for individual households (see Program landscape section).
This feasibility study was prepared by Ecotrust Canada for the City of Prince Rupert, BC, to consider the local opportunities for scaling up retrofits, meaning renovations such as improving insulation and air-sealing, installing more efficient space and water heating systems, or replacing windows and doors. The study assessed the local barriers to home energy efficiency upgrades, researched the feasibility, benefits, and risks of solutions to address these barriers, and examined specific program design considerations and financing options that could be implemented in Prince Rupert.
Our analysis of energy assessments done on common home types in the City of Prince Rupert shows significant cost and energy savings opportunities (see Benefits section). The residential rate for natural gas in Prince Rupert is far above other parts of BC, which, in combination with the higher rebates available, results in uniquely high-cost savings and short payback times on the renovation investment. Replacing a gas furnace with an electric heat pump represents the single greatest opportunity, both for energy savings and for emissions reductions, in Prince Rupert homes.
The key barriers identified via research and community engagement involve (see Barriers section):
- Low awareness of the retrofit opportunities and available supports,
- Multiple information gaps hampering engagement with and completion of the upgrade process,
- Contractor availability, capacity, and related challenges, and
- Affordability issues.
The financing options considered in this study include property-assessed clean energy (PACE)/local improvement charge (LIC) financing, and third-party financing. Our assessment finds third-party lending to be the more feasible of these options (see Financing assessment section). While some households will require financing to reduce up-front costs of upgrades, accessing financing was not found to be one of the top barriers facing households in Prince Rupert. It will therefore not sufficiently address the key identified barriers on its own, and while worth including as a support, is not a key priority.
In addition to financing options, the key administrative considerations evaluated with the City focused on program elements and delivery, scope, and potential target audiences (see Program design considerations section). We recommend implementing a comprehensive and sustained local awareness and education campaign, simultaneous engagement of contractors, in combination with a concierge-type point of contact for households in Prince Rupert delivered by an external delivery agent (see Key findings and recommendations section). We estimate that at a medium uptake of 75 homes per year, a program could reduce GHGs by 224 tCO2e, conserve 6,559 GJ of energy, and save $192,231 in energy costs per year.
We’re here to help!
We’ve compiled this list of resources and available rebates to help guide people in our community to save money and the environment. Converting your home from natural gas to a heat pump system alongside some simple insulation upgrades can save you over $2,000 annually in energy bills, and is the equivalent of taking two cars off the road per household.
See below for additional information on potential cost savings.
Rebate and Financial Support Programs
Below is a list of resources that may help you in retrofitting your home to be more energy efficient:
CleanBC Better Homes (Provincial):
- Home Renovation Rebate Program
- Northern top-up offer applies
- Income-Qualified Program
- Low-Interest Financing Program (cannot be combined with BC rebates)
Canada Greener Homes Initiative (Federal):
- Canada Greener Homes Grant
- Canada Greener Homes Loan
- Oil to Heat Pump Affordability Program (income-qualified)
- Nisga’a Lisims Urban Renovation Grant (for Nisga’a Citizens only)
- CMHC Eco Plus Program insurance premium refund on CMHC Home Insurance
- Sagen Energy Efficient Housing Program mortgage insurance refund
- Federal and Provincial GST/HST New Housing Rebate
Skills training and education
Funding is also available for individuals interested in training and education to join the home energy improvement industry, or to gain additional energy efficiency knowledge.
BC Centre for Women in the Trades (BCCWITT) offers a variety of trades training and employment supports for female-identifying individuals.
The Skilled Trades Employment Program (STEP) provides support for individuals looking to working in construction.
For Indigenous individuals: Tribal Resources Investment Corporation (TRICORP) provides general employment skills, and Nisga’a Employment, Skills & Training (NEST) provides supports for Nisga’a citizens.
Further information can be found on https://skilledtradesbc.ca/
The City of Prince Rupert partnered in 2023 with Ecotrust Canada to complete a Home Energy Retrofit Financing Feasibility study to identify barriers and opportunities for implementing Home Energy Retrofit programming locally. The above information was drawn from that study, which provides significantly more detail on the potential for energy-efficient upgrades and considerations based on the age and vintage of a Prince Rupert, BC, home.
Find the final report on that work, here: