A free provincewide program could help low-income residents in the Town of Amherst and surrounding area improve the energy efficiency of their homes, Amherst town council’s committee of the whole learned recently.
Called HomeWarming, the program is sponsored by Nova Scotia Power and the Province of Nova Scotia and is administered by Efficiency Nova Scotia and the Clean Foundation.
“HomeWarming has helped more than 10,000 Nova Scotians save on heating costs and enjoy a more comfortable home, while having more room in their budgets for other priorities by offering free home energy assessments and free home upgrades to low-income residents,” says a brochure Jenn Hickey, a HomeWarming outreach agent, presented to the committee on Feb. 18.
In order to apply for the program, Hickey said a person cannot have previously received upgrades through HomeWarming or the Low-Income Homeowner Service. The person must also own and occupy a single-unit home – that is a detached, duplex, semi-detached, townhouse or mobile home.
In addition, the maximum household net income for a home occupied by one person is $22,324. For a home with two to four people living it in, the maximum household income is $41,481, and the maximum household income for a home with five or more people is $59,076.
Applications can be obtained online at www.homewarmingapply.ca or by calling 1877-434-2136.
The returned application must be accompanied by the most recent tax Notice of Assessment for each person in the home who is 18 or older and proof of home ownership, such as a property tax bill, property tax assessment or bill of sale. (The proof of ownership must contain the name of the applicant and the home address.)
It usually takes about three weeks after the application is received for HomeWarming personnel to determine if a homeowner qualifies, Hickey said. If they do, HomeWarming will make arrangements with them for the free energy audit to be conducted. The audit usually takes two to three hours.
The results of the audit and the recommendations that will help the home become more energy efficient are then shared with the homeowner. If the homeowner agrees to carry out the recommendations, HomeWarming then hires a contractor, who does the work at no cost to the homeowner.
The only other stipulation is that HomeWarning requires the homeowner to keep possession of the home for one year after the work is finished, Hickey said.
She said between 1,500 and 3,000 people in the Amherst area may qualify for the program and asked the committee to help spread the word about the program because it can help people stay in their homes and thus help maintain a community’s tax base.
Mayor David Kogon encouraged people to investigate and partake in the program because the HomeWarming program fits in with two of the pillars of Amherst’s strategic plan – environmental stewardship and poverty reduction.
“As you know, Amherst is committed to becoming a greener community,” Kogon said. “Helping people make their homes more energy efficient works in conjunction with other green programs the town has initiated, like the solar panels on the Amherst Stadium, firehall and police station, the Active Transportation Plan, joining the Partners for Climate Projection’s Five Milestone Framework and our two-year agreement with EfficiencyOne that will help the town reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Together, they will help make Amherst a green community and good stewards of the environment.
“The fact the HomeWarming program is geared to helping our lower-income residents by lowering their heating costs helps the town’s effort to reduce poverty because as Ms. Hickey said, it will ‘free up more room in their budgets for other priorities.’”