Canadian Contractor

By Lois Ann Dort, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter   

Federal government announces funding to transition away from home heating oil

Canadian Contractor

July 5, 2023 – The federal government announced an investment of up to $101.7 million on June 30 from Canada’s Low Carbon Economy Fund to reduce energy costs and support climate action in Nova Scotia.

The announcement, made by Central Nova MP Sean Fraser, took place in Antigonish, a town which has set the goal to become Canada’s first net-zero emissions community.

The funding will be divided between two initiatives, one for individuals and the other for initiatives in Nova Scotia that support Canada’s 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reductions target and align with Canada’s goal of net-zero emissions by 2050. An investment of up to $60.5 million for provincial Home Heating Oil Transition programming will support lower-income homeowners make the move from heating oil – the primary source of heat for 40 per cent of Nova Scotia households, which makes up 6.7 per cent of the total greenhouse gas emissions in the province – to energy sources that create fewer emissions, like heat pumps. The remaining amount, up to $41.2 million, can be used by the province for projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

In comments made during the announcement, Fraser noted that Nova Scotians have seen the impact of climate change in the past year from hurricane Fiona to the recent wildfires and the reality is that this is the new normal. The repercussions of inaction not only result in environmental consequence but also health issues, and extraordinary economic losses.


“The exciting part about this,” said Fraser, “is it’s not only going to reduce emissions, it’s going to create jobs as well and save homeowners money as well. The expected savings for someone who transitions from home oil to a heat pump in Nova Scotia is between $1,500 and $4,700 every year in reduced energy bills. This is a meaningful amount of money for people who live in communities like this one.”

Speaking to the funding allotted for provincial projects, Fraser said, “The kinds of projects that we have seen in other provinces for this program include community centres, or university campus buildings.”

Stephen MacDonald, president and chief executive officer of EfficiencyOne, the not-for-profit operator of Canada’s first electricity efficiency utility, Efficiency Nova Scotia, said, “Our role at Efficiency Nova Scotia is to transform how people use energy, helping them to achieve their energy goals, save money, conserve resources, improve wellbeing and most importantly, combat climate change.”

MacDonald added, “Higher energy cost disproportionally impact households with lower incomes. So, depending on fuel prices, approximately 40 per cent of Nova Scotia households can experience some form of energy poverty. Installing just one mini-split heat pump in an oil heated home can reduce energy cost by 15 to 20 per cent when you factor in additional upgrades on top of heat pumps like insulation and draft proofing or switching homes to LED lighting this will result in even more saving.

This investment, MacDonald said, “will mean thousands of Nova Scotians will no longer be in energy poverty.”

While new funding makes the financial barrier to moving off home heating oil plausible, for many people, programs offered to date have been difficult to navigate. Following official comments on Friday, The Journal asked Fraser about this issue, to which he replied, “That was actually one of the criticisms we heard on previous programs that we had rolled out. They were difficult for people to access and difficult to navigate?particularly when it required detailed assessments, or home energy audits that were difficult for ordinary people to manage.

“What we’ve decided to do is cooperate with the provincial government and offer the programs for home oil to heat pump transitions through EfficiencyOne; it’s a one stop shopping strategy that we’ve adopted. So, if you go to EfficiencyOne’s website you’ll find all the information on how to apply for both the federal and provincial grants that allow you to accomplish the same outcome which is to obtain support from different levels of government to transition to cleaner energy sources,” Fraser said adding that grants such as the greener homes grant and the oil to heat pump affordability program can be layered on top of each other.

Despite the thousands of dollars available, some homeowners may still find the gap between grant money and their personal finances a bridge too wide to cross. Fraser said, “There’s a couple of things we’ve done to try to address that. First of all, there was previous programs that we had tried that ran into similar obstacles as a result of needing to put receipts forward and then recoup cost on the back end. We’ve tried to change the approach by allowing access to certain grants up front that will help cover the cost knowing that it will go towards a certain kind of expense.”

Fraser added, “This is not a few hundred bucks. We’re dealing with, in some instances, more than enough support for low-income homeowners in particular to cover the complete cost of installing of some of these products. The exact cost will vary based on conditions of a particular home and the service provider you use but for most people, layering these various programs from both the federal and provincial government and including provincial programs that are federally funded, are going to be a dramatically more generous set of programs than existed previously and its meant to help address the bottle neck for a lot of people who may like to take advantage but can’t afford their share of the product.”

The funding creates a win-win-win situation, said Fraser; lower energy cost, creation of green sector jobs, and a significant step in combating climate change.


Stories continue below

Print this page

Related Stories

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.