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SaskEnergy launches rebate program for energy-efficient new homes

MLA David Buckingham speaks at the launch of SaskEnergy's Homes Beyond Code Program at the Saskatoon HomeStyles Show at Prairieland Park on Friday.  (CBC News - image credit)
MLA David Buckingham speaks at the launch of SaskEnergy's Homes Beyond Code Program at the Saskatoon HomeStyles Show at Prairieland Park on Friday. (CBC News - image credit)

A new rebate program is giving Saskatchewan homebuyers up to $9,000 for energy-efficient homes.

On Friday, SaskEnergy launched the Homes Beyond Code Program that aims to help customers build new homes at higher energy efficiency levels than required by current standards.

The program will give up to $9,000 for home buyers and $800 for home builders who construct new homes above Tier 2 of the National Building Code of Canada.

"These tiers represent significant improvements in the energy performance of new homes and can lead to significant savings on annual heating costs," Saskatoon Westview MLA David Buckingham said at Friday's news conference.

He said the initiative is part of SaskEnergy's commitment to sustainability and reducing greenhouse gas emissions to lower the environmental impact of the residential sector.

James Gates, director of customer solutions at SaskEnergy, says the program gives the province's leading home builders a spotlight to step right into and get ahead of future building code changes.
James Gates, director of customer solutions at SaskEnergy, says the program gives the province's leading home builders a spotlight to step right into and get ahead of future building code changes.

James Gates, director of customer solutions at SaskEnergy, says the program gives the province's leading home builders an opportunity to get ahead of future building code changes. (CBC News)

James Gates, director of customer solutions at SaskEnergy, said the program builds on the province's emphasis on energy efficiency and supports homeowners to reduce their emissions and operating costs.

"This gives our leading builders a spotlight to step right into. It uses an industry-proven approach to verify that homes are built to tiers above code," he said.

He said the rebate for the buyer creates an incentive to choose a home built to a tier higher than the minimum standard required by code.

For the builder, this rebate is to help offset costs associated with getting the EnerGuide label for the home. The EnerGuide label is provided by an independent energy adviser who will confirm whether the home meets the desired tier.

As of Jan. 1, Saskatchewan adopted Tier 2 of the national building code, requiring builders to increase the energy efficiency of their homes by 10 per cent.

With this new program, homes built to code at Tier 3 will receive a rebate of $3,000. Tier 4 homes will get a rebate of $5,000, and Tier 5 homes will get a rebate of $9,000.

There are multiple criteria to advance to a higher tier, Gates said, adding that a builder needs to work with an energy adviser to determine the best upgrades for that specific home. This can include adding insulation in different parts of the home and working on the building's air tightness so that it's less leaky. It can also include upgrading home appliances.

"Installing a tankless water heater … there's other things, like in terms of orientation and windows that will change the solar gains in a home," he said.

Eligibility criteria

Eligible housing types are a detached house, semi-detached house, row house, townhouse or modular home. The conditions to quality for a rebate are as follows:

  • A new residential home on a permanent foundation in Saskatchewan.

  • Connected to SaskEnergy's natural gas system and use natural gas for space heating.

  • Built subject to guidance from an energy adviser from a registered service organization or member of the Canadian Association of Consulting Energy Advisors.

Nicole Burgess, CEO of Saskatoon & Region Home Builders' Association, said the program is a win for both the environment and homeowners.

"We're committed to not just meeting but exceeding standards, ensuring that every home not only offers superior value, but is also a step ahead in the environmental responsibility and is ready for the future," she said.

SaskEnergy has set aside $800,000 for the program and is expecting about 150 to 200 homes to be part of the rebate program in the first year. Applications are now available on its website.