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Ottawa announces $250M grant to help homeowners switch to heat pumps

Rebates could contribute thousands of dollars toward cost of a heat pump system
The outdoor section of a heat pump system, installed in a Saanich yard in 2011. TIMES COLONIST

Canadians will soon be able to apply to a $250-million grant program aimed at helping them stop heating their homes with oil and switch to electric heat pumps, the federal government announced Monday.

Speaking to reporters in Stellarton, N.S., Immigration Minister Sean Fraser said the Oil to Heat Pump Affordability Grant will provide up to $5,000 for low- and middle-income homeowners. The money, he said, will cover costs such as the installation of heat pumps, the electrical upgrades required for the new equipment and the removal of oil tanks.

“The real savings over time is going to come when people have smaller power bills or home heating bills as a result of these investments,” Fraser said.

The minister said eligible homeowners will be able to combine the new grant with existing federal and provincial programs that assist with home heating. Fraser said the grant will be made available early in the new year, but he couldn’t say how much of the funding would go to each province and territory. There were also no figures available on the number of people expected to apply.

“It’s hard to pinpoint with precision the exact number of households, but it will depend upon the uptake and the amount that each home requires,” Fraser said.

He said the new funding is in addition to an envelope of $250 million over four years that was announced by federal Environment Minister Steven Guilbeault in September to assist people with home heating costs. Nearly half of that money — $120 million — was earmarked for Atlantic Canada, where about 30 per cent of homes use oil for heating.

Guilbeault announced the funding after the four Atlantic premiers wrote to him on Sept. 1 for an extension of the federal deadline to submit new carbon-pricing plans, but the premiers were turned down.

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