The barrier of entry has officially been lifted!
Now anyone who wants to go solar can do so! Before, solar was restricted to anyone with enough investment capital to afford the equipment necessary to use solar energy. Thanks to the new interest-free and low-interest programs available across the country, anyone looking to lower their carbon footprint and save thousands on power can! Here is a breakdown of all current programs to help you transition your property to clean, renewable energy.
If you would like us to help you navigate through all the rebates and programs available, feel free to schedule a virtual, complimentary assessment. Our Solar Advisors will answer any questions you may have and provide you with a detailed analysis of how much you’ll save by switching over to solar with Solar X.
With the introduction of the federal Greener Homes Program, Canada’s first country-wide, interest-free solar financing initiative is finally here. This marks a significant feat for the country’s burgeoning cleantech sector, as up until recently, all incentives remained provincial or municipal in nature.
Canadians across the country can now reliably access up to $5,600 in grants and up to $40,000 in interest-free loans for sustainable infrastructure upgrades – like solar panels – on top of any regional incentives. And with a 10-year payback period, homeowners have more than enough time to recoup their initial investment through enhanced energy savings. One thing to note: this initiative can only be taken advantage of for principal residences.
The program’s first phase (live as of the time of publication) is open for homeowners pre-approved for funding or those with an open application to the Canada Greener Homes grant. The eligibility criteria will broaden in early September 2022 and will continue to liberalize as the program gets up and running.
The Maritimes (Nova Scotia & PEI)
Prince Edward Island, though small in stature, leads the way on the east coast when it comes to supporting homeowners’ desires to ‘go green’ and lower their electricity bills through solar. Funded by the Federation of Canadian municipalities, the Switch Charlottetown program offers solar loans at 0% interest rates with 10-15 year payback periods. Homeowners are eligible for the initiative if they own a detached, semi-detached, or row house (multi-unit buildings are excluded), and are up to date with municipal taxes. Switch Charlottetown has warned, however, that due to overwhelming demand, the organization may not be able to keep interest rates at 0% indefinitely. As of its latest prediction, applicants will start being charged interest at some point in 2023.
While there are no other interest-free loan programs on the east coast, there are some other avenues in Nova Scotia worth taking advantage of if you’re considering going solar. Notable among these are PACE (property-assessed clean energy) programs, which allow homeowners to finance the upfront expenditure of solar panels by paying a small fee back on monthly utility bills. The beauty of PACE initiatives is that homeowners get the benefits of solar energy right away, without needing to concern themselves with complex payback agreements. The downside, however, is that PACE programs are not zero-interest.
Several Nova Scotian municipalities have access to PACE programs, including Amherst, Cumberland, Lunenburg, Digby, Barrington, and Yarmouth. The interest rates in each locality reflect the regional cost of borrowing but are generally preferable to other financing programs (bar interest-free loans, of course).
Toronto – The Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) is now offering zero-interest 20-year loans up to $125,000 for home energy retrofits and upgrades. They will also provide up to $1000 as an incentive that can be combined with Greener Homes, totaling up to $6500 in rebates! Once an application has been approved, homeowners can immediately hire a contractor and begin construction. Those with mortgages are still eligible, though they’re required to fill out a Lender Consent Form.
Kingston – the first municipality in Ontario to declare a climate emergency – also features a strong financing program for homeowners looking to go solar. Better Homes Kingston offers up to $40,000 (or 10% of the current value assessment of the home) in interest-free loans for energy retrofits and upgrades and features a payback period of up to 20 years. Payments are made through existing property tax bills in a similar fashion to that of PACE programs. Uniquely, Better Homes Kingston offers homeowners an option to receive an initial 30% of funding upfront to help secure quality contractors. Single-family residential buildings, detached and semi-detached homes, and row houses can qualify for the loans, be it all payment obligations to the city are in good standing and all proper permissions have been acquired.
Unfortunately, Ottawa has temporarily paused its Better Homes program, which went live in the fall of 2021 and provides up to $125,00 (or 10% of a home’s current valuation) in zero-interest loans, on account of all allotted capital being spent. Eligibility is similar to other programs, with few notable differences: property ownership is required, as is a clear financial relationship with the municipality. As of the summer of 2022, Ottawa is attempting to refinance the program, though no further announcements have been made.
The city of Guelph (through Our Energy Guelph) is working on developing its own PACE program, though its launch – originally set for spring of 2022 – has been delayed.
Prairies (Manitoba & Saskatchewan)
Saskatoon is the only municipality in Saskatchewan that offers a solar financing program, though unfortunately, the initiative isn’t zero-interest and is currently full, despite premiering just last year. Luckily, there is an active waitlist, should the city secure additional funding in the future. Dubbed the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP), homeowners can get between $1,000 and $40,000 in loans, with interest rates between 1.45%-3.14%, depending on the repayment term (maximum is 20 years). Detached, semi-detached and row houses are eligible. One unfortunate aspect of the program is that there’s a $500 administration fee that’s only waivable with proof of low-income status.
Manitoba Hydro offers a Home Energy Efficiency Loan, though at much higher rates than comparable programs. Additionally, there are more restrictions, narrower payment terms, and hidden fees (albeit marginal ones).
Western Canada (Alberta & British Columbia)
With no dedicated interest-free loan program to help homeowners adopt solar energy in Alberta, PACE-style initiatives are doing the heavy lifting. They’re available in several municipalities, including Canmore, Rocky Mountain House, and Edmonton. These programs – particularly the latter – are exhibiting surging demand and may not be available indefinitely, however.
The last province rounding out our list, British Columbia, also lacks zero-interest loan programs for solar energy. That being said, however, BC is home to Canada’s only cooperative bank focused on driving positive social change (Vancity Community Investment Bank). As such, the province gets access to a unique-to-BC program. The Vancity Planet-Wise Renovation initiative, which can be used to finance solar panels, is a prime + 0.75% loan with an amortization period of up to 15 years. Up to a maximum of $50,000 can be borrowed as long as applicants own minimum equity in a residential property.
Take Advantage Now!
Want to learn how to take advantage of these programs? Schedule a complimentary solar assessment and let our knowledgeable Solar Advisors guide you through the process. You’ll even get a complimentary proposal designed specifically for your home!
Find out how much you’ll save by taking advantage of these programs now before they’re gone!