Nelson Homeowners Flock to Ecosave Program
Reaching a two-year goal in just over two months—that sounds like something to brag about. Carmen Proctor may not be doing that, exactly, but she is obviously really proud.
“I am overjoyed,” says Proctor, the Coordinator of the Nelson’s Ecosave Energy Retrofit Program. “I didn’t honestly know what to expect. I am very excited at the early success. It tells me that more of these programs are needed.”
Proctor says the program, which started in April of this year, had set a target of 200 home energy assessments in two years. Registrations reached 212 on July 31.
Low interest loan
Under the program, Nelson homeowners may borrow up to $10,000 from the city at very low interest rates to increase the energy efficiency of their residence. The scheme includes “on-bill financing,” in which borrowers’ monthly loan payments may comprise a part of their hydro bill.
The low interest rates the city receives from the Municipal Borrowing Authority will be passed on to borrower, resulting in a 3.5% interest rate. Loans may be paid off over five or ten years.
“On-bill financing is a trend that is popping up all over North America right now,” says Proctor. She says Nelson is leading the way in Canada.
How to get involved
The process involves an application to the city for a home energy assessment, getting quotes from contractors, and applying for the loan. The procedure is set out in more detail in an earlier story in the Nelson Daily story and on the program’s webpage.
Proctor says homeowners who use the program are likely to find that their energy bills are lower than before, even with the loan payment added to it, because of the energy savings created by the retrofit.
Education about your house
People already participating in the program are giving her good feedback, she says. “They are saying that the assessment gives them way more information and education about their house, and they had no idea that their house was leaking in so many areas. It really identifies those areas.”
The early registration fee of $50 increased to $100 on August 1. It will go up again in October to $127.50.
Homeowners can combine Ecosave with the Live Smart B.C. energy efficiency rebates, but to do that they must first sign up for the Ecosave energy assessment.
Ecosave is open to all Nelson Hydro customers whether they live in the city or not, but on-bill financing part is open only to people who live within the city. However, the Ecosave program has partnered with the Nelson and District Credit Union, which will offer the same loan terms to Nelson hydro customers outside the city.
Getting out into the community
To get the program started, Proctor didn’t just put an ad in the paper and wait. She has been visible in the community with her table of information since before the program was launched.
“I went in front of every reality office, I approached the local contractors, the local suppliers, the community groups, organizations such as rotary, the landlord association, and just gave people info about the program. This created an excitement in the community and people started talking about it. I set up at Marketfest and sat at the hardware store. I have just tried to be really accessible.”
She says local contractors have been some of her most effective marketers. “Contractors who have a lot to gain are very willing to support the program by telling their customers about the rebates, so I have had lots of participants come to me through contractors.”