Better Homes Kingston program paused due to ‘overwhelming interest’

Commissioner Peter Huigenbos of the City of Kingston, Chris Boivin, Managing Director of the Green Municipal Fund for the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, and Kingston City Councillor Mary Rita Holland at the April 2022 launch of Better Homes Kingston, a property-loan program for Kingston homeowners aimed at energy efficiency. Photo via the City of Kingston.

In April 2022, the City of Kingston, in partnership with the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, launched the Better Homes Kingston program. After six months, the program has surpassed its target, leading the City to temporarily pause application intakes today, Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022.

“We’re ecstatic to see such overwhelming interest in the Better Homes Kingston program and deep-energy retrofits,” said Julie Salter-Keane, Manager of the City’s Climate Leadership Division. “This program was intended to run for four years, yet within the first six months of launching, we surpassed our four-year target!” 

According to a release, interested residents can join a waitlist while the City explores new opportunities to finance the program in 2023. 

Better Homes Kingston is a local improvement charge (LIC) financing program that encourages homeowners to undertake deep-energy retrofits. With assistance from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Green Municipal Fund (FCM), participating homeowners can qualify for up to $40,000 in zero-interest loans to complete retrofits that reduce greenhouse gas emissions, according to the release. 

“An energy-efficient home is healthier to live in, more resilient, more climate-friendly and reduces money spent on energy and energy used. Programs like Better Homes Kingston help residents achieve this resiliency while reducing our community’s collective greenhouse gas emissions,” Salter-Keane added.

The City said that while many Better Homes Kingston projects are underway, five projects have been fully completed, achieving significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions or electricity consumption. According to the release, projects included the installation of cold climate air source heat pumps, solar panels and improved insulation. 

Staff will continue working with the approved applicants to complete their energy retrofits, according to the City. Interested residents can join the waitlist online or subscribe to the Climate Action Newsletter for program updates. 

The LIC financing is the primary focus of the initial years of Better Homes Kingston implementation as required under the FCM funding model, the City stated. The long-term goal is to transition to third-party financing through utility providers, contractors, equipment suppliers, financial institutions or other private capital investments. The City said that it is currently researching options for third-party financing to expand and extend the successful program. Staff expect to report back with more information on this in 2023. 

Through the Better Homes Kingston Program, the City aims to help retrofit 20 to 50 per cent of single-family homes built before 1991, by 2040. Learn more about Better Homes Kingston on the City’s website.

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