A new study reveals that modest investments in energy conservation in homes can save homeowners thousands of dollars, and dramatically and rapidly reduce greenhouse gas emissions in Canada.
The report shows that, at current energy prices, a homeowner can double their return — more than $12,000 on an average $6,000 investment in energy efficiency over 25 years — by making simple changes like upgrading hot water heaters, home heating and cooling systems, and improving weatherization and insulation of homes, according to a Columbia Institute study titled "This Green House — Building Fast Action on Climate Change and Green Jobs."
"Our report shows that, with municipal energy efficiency financing, fast action on climate change is within the reach of most communities and homeowners," Charley Beresford, executive director of the Columbia Institute, said in a press release. "A small investment in one's home — supported with loans provided at the municipal level — will give homeowners significant energy savings that they can take to the bank."
The report examines the role Canadian municipalities can play in setting up financing programs for residential energy retrofits. Loans provided to homeowners by municipalities, financial institutions, utilities or other funders can be paid back gradually through small payments on property taxes or utility bills — removing a key financial barrier for many homeowners. Loan payments can be made from energy bills savings, making energy-efficiency retrofits affordable for most homeowners.
"The ideas in this report are especially relevant to Saskatchewan municipalities, given the pressure our climate puts on our household energy bills and the fact that our per capita greenhouse gas emissions are amongst the highest in the country," Saskatoon City Councilman Charlie Clark said in the release. "This Green House has done a great job of demonstrating the best practices in retrofit programs across North America while also doing the legwork to figure out the unique opportunities and obstacles in each province, and this contribution is particularly valuable."
Other highlights from the study:
- In 2008, heating, cooling and electricity use in buildings accounted for 28 percent of Canada's greenhouse gas emissions from energy use.
- Average energy savings from retrofits: from 26 percent to 35 percent per home.
- Energy efficiency retrofits create 20 jobs for each $1 million invested, compared with the oil and gas industry in Canada, which creates only 5.2 jobs for each $1 million invested.