The provincial Residential No-Cost Energy Savings Program will supply and install — at no charge — simple products that save energy in homes such as LED light bulbs, efficient showerheads and faucets and various other components.

The upside of carbon tax

New programs could see homeowners coming out ahead

milesIf you’ve been paying attention, you’re aware that, starting Jan. 1, we’ll be paying $1.01 more per gigajoule for natural gas to heat our homes and a few extra cents a litre to fuel our cars.

It’s the provincial carbon levy, and it’s inevitable.

If you’re like me, you want to know what the government is going to do with the revenue.

For starters, it’s setting up an agency whose goal is to reduce our utility bills, decrease emissions and save energy in general.

The agency is called Energy Efficiency Alberta, and, if it works as promised, it should take the sting out of the carbon levy – and then some.

Announced in last spring’s provincial budget, Energy Efficiency Alberta will oversee a five-year plan to help household and businesses use less energy, with its $645-million tab funded entirely by the carbon levy.

Whether you’re a fan of the carbon tax or not, it looks like homeowners, and homebuyers, may be able to come out ahead.

“In my mind this is a no-brainer. You can have your cake and eat it, too.”

The Alberta Energy Efficiency Alliance (aeea.ca) – a decade-old organization supported by the Alberta Real Estate Foundation along with a range of energy firms, municipalities and others – figures the province’s program will result in more than $2 billion in savings for businesses and homeowners over its five-year span. This comes along with a reduction in emissions equivalent to taking almost a million cars off the road.

“This makes sense from an economic perspective and an environmental perspective,” said AEEA executive director Jesse Low. “In my mind this is a no-brainer. You can have your cake and eat it, too.”

So what does the initiative look like for a homeowner or someone in the market?

The simplest part will be the Residential No-Cost Energy Savings Program. Still being finalized, it will supply and install — at no charge — simple products that save energy in homes. These could include LED light bulbs, efficient showerheads and faucets and various other components.

Meanwhile, the Residential Consumer Products Program will see stores give point-of-sale rebates (call them discounts at the cash register) to residential customers on products such as efficient lighting, insulation and appliances. This would include cool tech such as smart powerbars that eliminate phantom power draws from your electronics, high-efficiency furnaces and building-envelope upgrades to decrease heat loss.

Also, the Business, Non-Profit and Institutional Rebate Program will offer incentives to organizations for buying and installing high-efficiency products such as lighting, heating, cooling and hot water systems.

Low said once the program is in operation — expected to ramp up in the first few months of 2017 — the benefits to homeowners will be immediate.

“Direct savings will come in the form of lower utility bills. If you build energy-efficiency upgrades into the cost of buying a new house, the decrease in utility costs will give you a net benefit right away,” he said.

Anyone who has applied for a mortgage knows a home’s utility costs factor into the calculations your lender makes to see if you can afford it. Cheaper energy bills should mean more headroom for the PIT (principal, interest and taxes) part of your debt load.

“You’ll be able to be approved for a higher mortgage, since the utility costs will be lower,” said Low, adding the more real estate professionals know about the program, the better they’ll be able help clients take advantage of the increased home affordability it should offer.

“I’m actually quite excited about the opportunities for the real estate profession to take advantage of this.”

At this point, there’s not much (as in, zero) information for consumers online, but Low expects that will change soon after the New Year begins.

Until the government launches a comprehensive website that guides consumers through the programs, we can’t know for sure how effective they’ll be. But if all goes according to plans and promises, this plan could more than make up for the bump in heating and fuel prices. It’ll be up to us to take advantage of it.

Miles Durrie’s Digital Downlow column appears exclusively in CREB®Now biweekly. Questions? Story suggestions? Email digitaldownlowcalgary@gmail.com.

26 thoughts on “The upside of carbon tax

  1. It seems people do not factor in the cost of supplying and installing those energy-saving products or instituting the programs, not to mention, the added cost to businesses of the rebates, before touting the wonderful benefits of the AEEA and the carbon tax. I agree that people need to be much more energy efficient. However, expensive government programs have never proven to be the best way to deal with issues such as these. Throwing money at the problem is not the solution. The supposed savings to individuals will probably be far out-weighed by the cost, added to our already exorbitant taxes, of the expense of running the programs.

  2. If the collection of carbon tax is all set to go Jan 1, 2017 then why aren’t the rebate programs ready to go?????

    1. Exactly what my thoughts were when I heard of this. Unlike Christmas, I guess for this NDP government is is better to “receive than to give”!

      1. I can’t see the point of robbing someone then justifying it by giving a small peice of it back . Running money through a buracacy is about the most expensive way there is to do anything. But that’s the NDP/LIBREAL way
        because they think we’re too stupid to handle it ourselves. Use existing tax rebates instead. That system is already in place.

  3. Clearly this agency is to be fully funded by the government. Clearly this will take many more people. Clearly we the people will be paying for this. Clearly this is all a load of the same BS the NDP are spouting all over the media at yet more cost to us. Most of us are not stupid We just prefer our money in our own pockets.

  4. What a load of bullshit! I’m 57 and no climate denier, BUT we have been talking about energy efficiency half my life. We have made some gains.
    This deluded thought that we can somehow sprinkle a few million dollars into an NDP think tank and do they will magically make us more economic makes my head spin. Are people really this stupid???? My gawd people wake up. The jolly green emperor has no clothes!

    1. Laurie that’s part of the problem you have been talking about and doing nothing about. Just like the Conservatives. I for one would like to leave something behind for my children so less talk and more do. If the conservatives would have started 40 years ago we’d be laughing.

      1. That is quite a response, truth is you’ve been had. The only thing this government, this misguided solution and people like you will leave to your children is massive debt and an increased tax burden for them to pay for the rest of their lives while achieving absolutely nothing

  5. What a load of bull! I’m 57 and no climate denier, BUT we have been talking about energy efficiency half my life. We have made some gains.
    This deluded thought that we can somehow sprinkle a few million dollars into an NDP think tank and do they will magically make us more economic makes my head spin. Are people really this stupid???? My gawd people wake up. The jolly green emperor has no clothes!

  6. It’s plain and simple. All someone has to do is look at all the failed carbon taxes that have been done around the world and in Canada (Quebec). I dare someone to find a carbon tax that has been positive or one that has benefited the people or the environment.

    This is a complete joke it’s like putting a tax on the the air we breath.

  7. I’ve tried those led lights they are no good very bad light. The low water shower heads take you twice as long to shower

    1. Ken, the original ones were pretty bad for sure. Just so you know, we recently found some at Costco that are really good, nice bright white light. They seem to last really well and take the cold too. I used to hate the led lights as well. The shower head you’re bang on with.

  8. This is stupid. What benefit will there been for me. I’ve taken the steps already to make my house energy efficient. This tax makes no sense. Tax everyone so they can hand out free merchandise. Stupid!

  9. Carbon tax sorry but i don’t believe in fairy tales. Anything with goverment & taxes is always a win win for the government, not the consumer. You only have to look how well Carbon tax has worked globally to get your answer. Wind, nuclear, solor are not the answer either as they have yet to be proven. Build a pipe line & make Canada fuel efficient, after all its less than 1% of the problem now. If you look at Canada’s geography it only makes sence

  10. As a retired person this is $600 to $1000 dollars a year out of my merger income. I have no additional money to make upgrades to save energy nor do a lot of other people in my same income bracket. Discounts are fine but will only benefit those who can afford it. Not sure what the percentage of people who own homes but I am sure it’s. not 50% of the population. How do people who don’t own homes benefit?
    Question: how do we vote to get these people out of office? They killing me!

  11. Obviously Miles is on the NDP payroll! Carbon tax, minimum wage increase, how did we ever get so stupid to elect the NDP! They don’t have a clue as to what it’s going to do Alberta.
    Can’t wait forthe next election, but a lot of the damage will be done by then.

  12. Any one with half a brain has already changed to energy efficient appliances. The rest of them voted for the dam NDP

  13. The carbon tax is only “inevitable” because we elected a bunch of big government, tax and spend clowns. Does this guy figure there won’t be any additional costs from expanding the size of government to collect all this new tax money and redistribute it where it sees fit?

  14. Dear albertans especially Edmonton people when you guys voted for NDP never thought of this kind of traps yeah… Enjoy and suffer.. If they are firm to add levy on jan 1St how come they still not clear about rebates… This is the death bell of NDP in alberta…

  15. Why not implement something that costs nothing to start with that has proven measurable results like lowering the maximum speed limits on highways? Lower speed limits reduce fuel consumption and produces lower exhaust emissions. This is not a total solution but serves as a better starting point than a tax that increases the cost of everything.
    The problem is nobody gets to line their pockets

  16. So, I’m a bit slow I guess. The summary seems to be:

    First the fuel costs go up and then we save money and it’s a no-brainer … a new Agency gets set up to tell us how to not turn lights on or wear sweaters and turn the thermostat down … how to spend twice as much for a light bulb that we get a tiny discount to buy … with money that we don’t have ’cause we have been doing these ‘cost savings’ already for the last couple years … and it’s revenue neutral … I guess the agency doesn’t get paid?

    $645 million spend to save $2 billion sounds GREAT, and certainly a no-brainer, of course, but these are just numbers pulled out of someone’s arse which subsequently spills out of someone else’s mouth. SHOW ME THE NUMBERS.

  17. And what about people like me who over the years have already upgraded to energy efficient lighting and appliances. I don’t need retards like Tru-DOH!!! and Nuttly to invent new taxes to save me money, and this idiot to try to convince me that money out of my pocket going to a bullshit tax is a good thing.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *