ecoENERGY – Subsidized Solar Water Heating Coming To a Dealer Near You

We have written previously about the Canadian Conservative Federal Government’s ecoENERGY Retrofit program, an initiative more than a year old now to encourage Canadian home owners to make their homes more energy efficient by undertaking energy conservation measures.

We have been critical for the lack of financial incentives to motivate home owners to participate (for example see our ecoENERGY - 1st Anniversary article).

Heck, we have even written a series of articles in our own personal participation in the program meant to motivate Canadian home owners to undertake their own energy conservation measures (see our ECOENERGY page for the series of article on our experiences).

Well, in attempting to learn even more about the program I came across a page within the program’s web site concerning Solar Water Heaters.

Specifically, there was a request by Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) for companies to express interest in participating in a pilot large-scale deployment of solar water heaters withing Canadian homes.

According to Natural Resources Canada, 38 responses were received.

Of the 38 respondents, 13 firms were selected to participate in the “… $9 million pilot project that will test various large-scale strategies for deploying solar water heating systems in the Canadian residentical sector. The goal of the pilot is to determine the most efficient and effective ways to market solar water heaters to homeowners.”

The result is that these 13 firms “…will deliver projects in 7 provinces resulting in the deployment of over 8,000 solar domestic water heating systems to Canadians.”

Why is this good news and why am I commending those responsible for administering and funding the ecoENERGY Residential program?

It’s about the funding.

I contacted one of the 13 selected firms to express my interest in (A) finding out more details and (B) possibly being amongst those residences participating in the pilot for the area of Canada in which we reside.

I was given some interesting information from this company that gave me the encouragement.

The current ecoENERGY Residential Retrofit program does not in my opinion (and yes, opinions are subjective) provide sufficient funding as previously mentioned. The cost of a new solar water heating installation is between $5,000 and $7,000. The Federal Government’s ecoENERGY program will provide $500 grant back to the residence from it’s participation in the ecoENERGY Residential Retrofit program. Certain provinces, like the one in which we reside, will also provide another $500 grant to the same home owner.

So, the net cost to the home owner would be between $4,000 and $6,000. In order for the home owner to recoup their investment in say 10 years they would need to be spending at a minimum of $400 to $600 per year to currently heat their home’s hot water. For a more reasonable 5 year payback (the typical warranty period under which such products) the same home owner would need to be spending at a minimum between $800 to $1,200.

That, ladies and gentlemen is an aweful lot of hot water. While every residence is different, but from the information I have gathered a typical home using natural gas to heat the home and it’s how water might spend perhaps 20% of it’s total total natural gas bill on hot water. You do the math on how long it would take you to recoup your investment under the current ecoENERGY Residential Retrofit program for your own home.

And, at least in Canada with our climate, solar water heating devices do not necessarily provide 100% of the home’s hot water.

So, why am I encouraged?

Well, again it’s on the financial side. One of the companies I contacted indicated that for residences participating in this particular pilot indicated that will receive additional financial incentives over and above the aforementioned ecoENERGY Federal and Provincial grants. How much more? Well, since this participating company’s official launch of this program has not yet started (scheduled to launch in mid-ish September) I likely can’t say the exact figure. And, since the program has not yet be finalized details might change.

Let me say this. What was told to me was that the additional financial incentive under this pilot program would be 4 figures … low 4 figures …. but 4 figures none the less.

Will this provide financial payback for the home owner’s participation around 5 years? Again, it depends, but likely no …. much closer than current, however.

And, this additional incentive might also encourage more new home developers to include solar water heaters than the one or two such new home builders who presently offer this to their customers.

So, stay tuned. Keep your eye out in September and October those of you who are home owners residing in Canada for announcements regarding this additional financial incentive under the ecoENERGY Residential Retrofit program regarding solar water heaters.

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  1. Vasile says:


    A while ago I called Bullfrog about their pilot program (I live in GTA, and they are one of the two participating companies in my area), but it’s not yet going. Also, they told me it will be first offered to their current customers, and only after that everybody will be able to join, but the “seats” are limited :-( Did you get the Sept/Oct news you were taking about?


  2. Dan says:

    Hi Vasile,

    We were expecting to receive the in-home estimate so we could make our decision but have been advised that there is a delay in the commencement of the vendor’s participation in the program until mid-ish November.

    Once we know we will pass on that information to all.


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