Throughout Canada, energy efficiency retrofit grants have helped stimulate the geothermal industry and have made geothermal heat pumps more popular than ever before. The introduction of these substantial financial incentives on both a provincial and federal level have been a boon for the geothermal industry and the energy efficiency retrofit industry in general. They made energy efficiency upgrades accessible to home owners, stimulated the economy, and generated enough tax revenue to cover the cost of implementing the program.
Unfortunately, energy efficiency grants have been gradually phased out over the past few years, to the dismay of homeowners and energy efficiency professionals. The Canadian federal ecoENERGY retrofit program has been discontinued, and the latest program on the chopping block is the energy efficiency program administered by the Efficiency New Brunswick organization.
Efficiency New Brunswick has offered substantial grants for homeowners of both new and existing homes seeking to incorporate energy efficient building materials into their homes. It offered significant financial incentives for a variety of retrofits including the installation of geothermal heat pumps. The $5,000 grant offered for new and existing buildings significantly reduced the pay back period for a geothermal installation.
Unfortunately, Efficiency New Brunswick recently followed the lead of the federal government through discontinuing some of their incentive programs. In particular, the grants available for new homes are no longer available. This program was very popular, paying out $1.6 million in grants in 2011 and 2012. This sudden turn of events came as a shock to many homeowners who were planning on incorporating energy efficient features into their new homes, and were counting on the grants to defray the initial cost.
In addition to discontinuing the new homes incentive, four contract employees and two permanent staff were also laid off. This is one more blow in a series of misfortunes that the energy efficiency industry has suffered over the past several years, and will make accessing affordable ground source heat pump installations even more difficult.
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