Residents of Waterloo Region can breathe a sigh of relief today as they observe National Clean Air Day. Despite abrupt withdrawal by the federal government from the highly successful EnerGuide for Houses program in May, home and property owners will still be able to access the service in Waterloo Region thanks to tremendous support from local partners, and in particular, from the three area electric utilities.
It seems fitting that the pledge of local support to keep the Residential Energy Efficiency Project (REEP) offering home energy evaluations in this community coincides with national Clean Air Day. This day, devoted to increasing awareness of clean air and climate change, is celebrated across Canada during Environment Week June 4th to 10th, 2006.
“In the wake of the federal government’s withdrawal from the EnerGuide for Houses program, our local partners are stepping up to the plate to keep home energy evaluations available to our community” says Mary Jane Patterson, REEP’s Manager. “The response has been overwhelming. REEP is open for business!”
The Regional Municipality of Waterloo, the cities of Kitchener and Cambridge, Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro, Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro, Waterloo North Hydro and Kitchener Utilities provide ongoing and sustaining funding for REEP that is helping the project continue while rebuilding the EnerGuide for Houses service without federal assistance.
Three of these ongoing partners, Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro, Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro and Waterloo North Hydro, have now stepped in with additional funding to replace the federal government’s subsidy for their customers. Their added contribution per customer brings the cost of an EnerGuide for Houses evaluation through REEP down to $100 across Waterloo Region, even lower than before for some customers.
“We are pleased to take a lead on this project, as we feel this initiative is critical in fostering a culture of conservation,” said Rhonda Moreau, Manager of Customer Services for Kitchener-Wilmot Hydro.
Cambridge and North Dumfries Hydro President, John Grotheer confirmed, “the information provided from a home energy audit is a valuable tool to help educate the homeowner on ways to save. We are working to find ways to strengthen the conservation culture in our communities. Affordable energy audits help us to deliver on that commitment to our customers.”
Wally Malcolm of Waterloo North Hydro notes “The utilities have stepped in to keep this program running in our community. But the expectation is that the government will return its financial support to this valuable program.”
In addition to local financial support, Councils from the City of Kitchener and the City of Waterloo have supported motions urging the federal government to reinstate funding to EnerGuide for Houses and failing that, encouraging the province to revive the now-defunct grant program that rewarded homeowners for energy-saving retrofits.
REEP customer and Cambridge resident Jason Bailey agrees that this is a valuable service that should continue. “The evaluation was easily the best money I have spent on my house,” suggests Bailey, who says that even when accounting for today’s high fuel prices, his energy bills are lower nowadays than they were in 2001. He credits REEP with showing him where best to invest his renovation dollars.
REEP, a joint initiative of the University of Waterloo and the Elora Centre for Environmental Excellence, delivers the EnerGuide for Houses service under an agreement with Green Communities Canada and has provided the service to over 7,500 residents of Waterloo Region since 1999. Homeowners who follow REEP’s recommendations save an average of $500 annually and reduce individual greenhouse gas emissions by 2 to 4 tonnes. Cumulatively, REEP’s customers can be credited with reducing 2,400 tonnes of C02 annually.