The federal government has published details of a new C$250-million grant program that will help families switch from oil to heat pumps, in a bid to drive down home heating costs while reducing planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions.
Low- and middle-income households are eligible for an Oil to Heat Pump Affordability (OHPA) grant of up to $5,000 if their homes are heated by oil and they’re the primary owner and occupant of the property. The funds will be available up front to cover the cost of buying and installing a heat pump, making necessary electrical upgrades, and safely removing oil tanks, CBC News reported last week.
Applications will open in January through the Canada Greener Homes Initiative Portal, and homeowners will be allowed to combine OHPA funs with other federal, provincial, territorial, and utility grants for energy retrofits.
The government estimates households can save between $1,500 and $4,700 per year by switching from oil to a heat pump—a big difference for anyone struggling with rising expenses linked to inflation. Some residents say the new grant will be “a light at the end of the tunnel” for tight household budgets.
Home heating oil costs are “sadly, something that makes us forgo other necessities,” Kayla Muir of Stellarton, Nova Scotia, told CBC. “The tough reality is that these days, like many families, the money we spend on heating our home means less bread and milk in our kitchen.”
The program will create jobs while reducing the cost of recovering from climate-driven natural disasters, said Immigration Minister Sean Fraser, whose Nova Scotia constituency stands to benefit from the program.
“We’ve got programs to respond in the event of these severe weather events,” Fraser said. “But today’s program is going to help people save money and also make it less likely that we are impacted by severe weather events by reducing our pollution in the first place—rather than simply paying for it after the damage has been done.”
About 30% of the homes in Atlantic Canada are still heated with oil.