Better Homes Ottawa

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Get a low-interest loan from the City to cover the cost of home energy efficiency improvements.

What is the Better Homes Ottawa - Loan Program?

Through the Better Homes Ottawa - Loan Program, Ottawa homeowners could access low-interest loans of up to the lesser of $125,000 or 10 per cent of the current value of their home to cover the cost of home energy improvements. The minimum loan amount approved is $15,000.

Due to tremendous uptake from Ottawa residents, all loan capital for this pilot phase of the program has been spoken for. City staff are working to recapitalize the program as quickly as possible to meet demand.

The pilot phase of the Better Homes Ottawa - Loan Program is being delivered by our partners at EnviroCentre, an Ottawa based non-profit organization dedicated to providing practical solutions for people and communities to lighten environmental impact in lasting ways. Visit Better Homes Ottawa to apply for the Better Homes Ottawa - Loan Program and find out more about how to make your home more energy efficient and climate friendly.

You can combine a Better Homes Loan with energy efficiency rebates and incentives available such as the Canada Greener Homes Grant.

If you would like to receive updates on the Better Homes Ottawa – Loan Program and other climate change news subscribe to the climate change e-newsletter.

If you have questions about the Better Homes Ottawa Program, please email betterhomes@ottawa.ca.

Why is home energy efficiency important?

Homes and buildings produce almost half of the greenhouse gas emissions in Ottawa. To meet our target to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2050, 98 per cent of existing homes must undergo a deep energy efficiency retrofit by 2040. That’s around 327,000 homes and works out to around 20,000 homes per year.

An energy-efficient home is healthier to live in, more resilient, more climate-friendly and reduces both money spent on energy, and energy used. Home energy retrofits also create good, local, green jobs. It’s a win-win for Ottawa.

Eligible home energy improvements

Measure eligible for financing through the Better Homes Ottawa - Loan Program include:

  • Basement, attic and exterior wall insulation
  • Air sealing (such as weather stripping or caulking)
  • Window and door replacements
  • Air and ground source heat pumps
  • Solar hot water systems
  • Solar photovoltaic systems
  • Battery storage
  • Electric vehicle charging stations (level 2)
  • Additional dwellings such as granny suites or basement apartments (up to 30 per cent of the total loan amount)

Air sealing is a required measure for all homes with higher than three air exchanges per hour as defined by the required EnerGuide pre-retrofit home evaluation.

Eligibility requirements

Once the program is recapitalized ,you may qualify for a low-interest loan through the Better Homes Ottawa - Loan Program if:

  • You own a detached, semi-detached, townhouse or multi-unit residential unit building of three stories or less within the City of Ottawa boundaries
  • The property has a property tax account with the City of Ottawa
  • Your property tax, utility bills and all other payment obligations to the City of Ottawa for the past five years are in good standing. If not, you must submit a suitable credit check.
  • Your mortgage lender does not prohibit your involvement
  • The property is not in either Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s Mortgage Deferral Program or the City’s Tax Deferral Program.
  • All registered owner(s) of the property sign a consent form agreeing to participate in the Better Homes Loan program.

How to apply

At this time, new applications are being placed on a waitlist. Sign up for the climate change newsletter to receive updates on this program.

Applications for the Better Homes Ottawa – Loan Program are being processed by our partners EnviroCentre. Visit betterhomesottawa.ca to get started.

A summary of the application process, along with typical processing times, is below:

Step 1: Complete a pre-retrofit EnerGuide assessment. This assessment provides a NRCan EnerGuide rating for the home and recommends improvements that are customized for the home.

Step 2: Complete the Better Homes Ottawa - Loan Program Application Form.

Step 3: If the homeowner’s Better Homes Ottawa - Loan Program Application Form meets all requirements of the program, the homeowner is issued a Notice to Proceed. Here, the homeowner receives a Better Homes Loan Program File Reference Number. This typically takes 1-2 weeks to process.

Step 4: The homeowner can apply to any rebate programs they may be eligible for and get estimates from contractor(s). Eligible costs are those that are incurred after the Notice to Proceed is issued.

Step 5: Submit your Funding Request Form. At this stage of the process, a homeowner can choose to request 30 per cent of funds upfront to cover deposits. This can take 3-5 weeks to process.

Step 6: Complete a post-retrofit EnerGuide assessment after the retrofit projects. This assessment provides an updated EnerGuide rating for the home.

Step 7: Sign the Property Owner Agreement and submit a Project Completion Report.

Step 8: The City of Ottawa provides the balance of the loan to the homeowner that they can use to pay contractor(s). This can take 3-4 weeks before you receive your final loan disbursement.

Step 9: The homeowner repays the loan over time via their property tax bill. A homeowner can choose to pay off the loan in lump sum at any point without penalty.

Planning your home energy efficiency improvements

At betterhomesottawa.ca you will find information on how to make your home more comfortable, energy efficient and climate friendly. It includes information on:

  • How, why, and where to start to retrofit your home for energy savings
  • Programs, incentives, and rebates to help you get the work done
  • Services to support you to choose the right home improvements for your home
  • Information on deep retrofits, what that means, and why it matters for Ottawa and your home

Adding a secondary suite or apartment

The creation of secondary suites such as granny suites or basements apartments is eligible for financing through the Better Homes - Ottawa Loan Program.

Adding a secondary suite is a great way to improve overall energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is because homes that share inside walls generally use less energy per square foot to heat and cool. Housing more people in existing indoor space reduces greenhouse gas emissions and supports the goals of efficient use of land as set out in the Official Plan. Adding a self-contained rental apartment to your home provides your family with an additional source of income and provides your community (or a member of your family) with another source of affordable housing.

Before proceeding with the process of adding a secondary suite, you will need a building permit. This will walk through the following:

  • Go over the criteria
  • Identify exceptions
  • Financial considerations
  • What you need
  • Application process

Interactive map – eligible areas for secondary suites

The interactive map below shows areas where secondary suites are eligible in Ottawa and the median monthly cost of rent in 2016.

Tips for using the interactive mapping feature:

  • The current view shows both the eligible areas and the median monthly rent of all rental units, regardless of number of bedrooms. To view just one of these layers, click on the Layers drop down in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and click on the layer you want to remove
  • To view a specific address, use the search box in the upper right-hand corner of the screen
  • Clicking on the +/- symbols or using the scroll button on your mouse also allows users to zoom in and out.
  • To pan, click on the map and hold while moving the mouse in the desired direction.
  • This application works best in the Google Chrome web browser.