Get a low-interest loan from the City of Ottawa 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 can 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 $10,000.
Ottawa property owners can access a 20-year, 4.33% interest rate loan from the City of Ottawa to undertake energy efficiency retrofits and climate adaptation renovations.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Watch this short video featuring Ottawa resident Kyle Slinn talking about his home energy efficiency project and experience with the Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program.
So, we decided to purchase a heat pump because our air conditioner was getting on in its years.
It was probably about 17 or 18 years old at that point.
So, we were looking around on what we wanted to do, and then we had heard from our solar panel installers.
They said: “Hey, this is great new program that just came out called the Better Homes Loan Program.”
The entire experience was great.
We felt like we had a good connection with the City when we were trying to figure out what we wanted to do.
And whenever we did have something come up, the City was here to answer our questions right away.
Video shows Kyle beside a large heat pump outside his home and focuses on the turning fan, the power cables and a pipe leading to the second floor.
So, this is a three-ton unit and what that means is it’s about how much heating and cooling this heat pump can do for a house.
So, about 1 ton is about 12,000 BTUs.
So, 3 tons is about 36,000 BTUs.
Text on screen reads: BTU = British Thermal Unit
And so normally if you have an energy audit done to your house, they’ll be able to figure out exactly how much air leakage is happening in your house and then determine how big of a unit you need.
Video shows Kyle next to a basement furnace.
Text on screen reads: Electric backup heater.
If the heat pump outside can't handle the cold that's going on in Ottawa, this will kick in and this will kind of supplement the heat that it's pulling out.
So, the heat pump actually never stops running.
It keeps going producing heat in the winter, but this just kicks in various stages, depending on how much heat it needs to push out.
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.
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
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.
Interactive Map – Affordable Housing Rates for interest-free loan qualification
The Better Homes Ottawa Loan Program offers 20-year, 0 per cent loans to income qualified homeowners, as well as those offering affordable rental units. The interactive map below outlines the average market rental rates and affordable rental rates in across the City of Ottawa, as defined by the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). These figures are from 2022 and will be updated once 2023 figures are available. Affordable units are those which are below the Average Market Rent in their specific zone.
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
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.
Average Greenhouse Gas Emissions from residential buildings (CO2kg per year)
This interactive map shows the average intensity of greenhouse gases in homes, based on forward sortation areas (FSA). These are kilograms of CO2 equivalent per year. The data in this map comes from EnerGuide energy efficiency evaluations conducted in Ottawa between 2007 and 2019.