Energy costs in Ontario have been increasing for the better part of a decade. According to historical rates published by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), back in November, 2006, the on-peak price for hydro was pegged at 9.7 cents per kWh. Fast-forward to November, 2020, and the on-peak price was 21.7 cents per kWh — which is a 124% increase in 14 years. And while the Government of Ontario has now dropped the kWh rate to 8.5 cents per kWh due to the pandemic, unfortunately there is absolutely no expectation that this discount will persist for long. Within a few weeks or months at the most, homeowners and businesses will resume wincing and bracing for impact every time they crack open their monthly energy bill.
However, the situation is not entirely grim. In fact, there is another and far more positive story to tell — one that involves saving money and, at the same time, reducing environmental impact. And it is all thanks to the Federal government’s Energy Savings Rebate Program.
Ontario Energy Savings Rebate Program
Launched in August, 2019, the Energy Savings Rebate Program is designed to make energy-efficient products more accessible to homeowners and businesses across Ontario. It works by giving point-of-sale rebates to various participating retailers, who then pass along the discounts to customers. The exact amount of the rebate depends on the type of energy-efficient product. For example, Ontarians can save up to 25 percent (up to a maximum of $500) per item. Those who purchase tankless condensing water heaters and ductless-mini split indoor units can save up to $1,000 per item. The rebate is available both in store and online.
“A signature feature of the Government of Canada’s Energy Savings Rebate Program, and one that pleasantly surprises many homeowners and businesses, is that there is no need to apply for the rebate and wait weeks or months to receive a cheque in the mail,” commented a spokesperson from Ontario Green Savings, a leading Smart Home Rental Program provider in Ontario that delivers energy saving and smart home automation solutions to thousands of customers across the province. “The rebate is automatically applied at the point-of-purchase and built into an item’s selling price. For example, instead of paying $799 for a new energy efficient dishwasher, the selling price might be $599. That $200 savings is because of the program.”
To take advantage of the point-of-sale rebate, buyers simply need to confirm that they are shopping at an approved retailer. The Government of Canada maintains an updated inventory of approved retailers on its website, which range from big box retailers to smaller chains and independent stores. Furthermore, to support program integrity and protect buyers, all eligible retail advertising and promotional activities (both online and in-store) must acknowledge the Government of Canada’s Energy Savings Rebate program.
Another welcome feature of the Energy Savings Rebate Program is that it applies to a wide variety of ENERGT STAR-certified items, including washers, dryers (and washer/dryer combos), dishwashers, air purifiers, room air cleaners, smart thermostats, tankless condensing water heaters, air-source heat pumps, room air conditions, ceiling fans, and dehumidifiers. CEE Tier 3 certified refrigerators (and refrigerator/freezer combos), electric-vehicle home chargers, and induction stove top appliances are also included.
“Some people are under the impression that ENERGY STAR is a brand or a manufacturer, like Whirlpool, GE, Samsung, and so on,” commented a spokesperson from Ontario Green Savings. “However, ENERGY STAR is actually a U.S. Government-backed certification program designed to highlight specific energy efficient products, such as washers, refrigerators, air conditioners, and so on. Only products that have undergone rigorous testing and have been proven to be energy efficient can carry the familiar ENERGY STAR symbol, and are included in the Energy Savings Rebate Program. It is also worth nothing that unlike some other rebate-type programs offered by manufacturers, there is no limit to the amount that homeowners and businesses can save. For example, a homeowner that chooses to replace their old and inefficient dishwasher, dryer, washer and water heater with ENERGY STAR certified appliances could potentially save $2,500.”
While the focus so far has been on the cost saving aspect of the Energy Savings Rebate Program, the most important feature of the program is about saving another kind of green: the environment.
Older appliances can be extremely inefficient, and significantly contribute to climate change. For example, a standard top-mounted refrigerator purchased in 2010 consumes an average of 427 kilowatt hours per year. Compare this to a new ENERGY STAR certified standard top-mounted refrigerator purchased in 2021, which consumes an average of 296 kilowatt hours per year. That is a reduction of nearly 31 percent. If every homeowner did the same thing with their other inefficient appliances, the impact would be exponential.
Before wrapping up, it is also essential to mention that the Energy Savings Rebate Program — which has been a runaway success and extremely well-received by both sellers and buyers — is no longer accepting applications from retailers. When the currently allocated point-of-sale rebates are exhausted, the program will come to an end.
“We can all hope that the Energy Savings Rebate Program is extended and more funding is provided by the Government of Canada,” commented a spokesperson from Ontario Green Savings. “However, nothing has been stated, and in the absence of any official announcement, homeowners and businesses that want to save money and help the environment should make their purchases now, not later — because it may be too late.”