Programs for Residents

Home Energy Loan Program

Low interest financing for your home energy improvements

 

    

    Save Energy 

    Save Money 

    Live Green

 

 

Contents

Background

In July 2013, Toronto City Council unanimously approved a $20 million pilot water and energy efficiency program for improvements to private residential properties. Read more about City Council's decision.

The single-family residential program is called the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP). Information about the multi-residential program can be found here.

What is HELP?

HELP is a new financing tool offered by the City of Toronto to help you improve your home’s energy efficiency and save money.

Upgrading your insulation and replacing an old furnace are examples of cost-effective improvements - also called retrofits - that can cut your energy bills, improve home comfort and reduce harmful emissions to the environment. For many people, however, the high upfront cost of these improvements can be a barrier to taking action.

HELP offers a solution. Low interest loans are available to qualifying homeowners who are interested in improving the energy and water efficiency of their home. Through HELP, the City will provide the funding required to complete the improvements and the homeowner will repay the City over time through installments on their property tax bill. 

The potential savings you may realize after completing your home energy retrofit will help to offset the cost of your monthly repayments to the City. And by making your home more energy efficient, you will be better protected against rising energy costs.

How it works

HELP provides an alternative to traditional financing. A homeowner voluntarily applies to the City’s Program and enters into an agreement with the City to undertake qualifying energy efficiency and water conservation improvements.

The City then imposes a special charge - equal to the cost of the improvements, plus interest and an administrative charge incurred by the City - on the participating property.

Payments to the City are then made over a period of up to 15 years as a special charge indicated on the property tax bill. The payment obligation attaches to the property, not the owner, and is secured by the City’s priority lien status. If a property changes ownership, the new owner would assume the financial obligation and continue to make payments to the City until the special charge is fully paid.

Five benefits of HELP financing

  • HELP allows you to avoid the large upfront cost of home energy improvements and pay for them over time.
  • HELP financing is attached to the property, not to you, the property owner. If you sell the property before the loan is repaid, the new owner will assume the balance of the loan and continue to repay it through the property tax bill.
  • You may pay off your HELP loan at any time, without penalty.
  • You benefit from low interest rates and longer repayment terms, compared to conventional financing.
  • Incentives of up to $2,000 are available from Enbridge Gas, including a rebate to cover the cost of your home energy assessments. And an incentive of up to $650 is available from Toronto Hydro for replacing your furnace and air conditioner with high efficiency units. The incentives you receive will be deducted from the total amount of your HELP loan.

Do I qualify?

HELP is a pilot project, available in specific neighbourhoods in Toronto. If the first three digits of your home postal code are listed below, HELP financing is available to you:

  • Black Creek: M3N
  • Toronto Centre/Riverdale/Beaches: M4E, M4L, M4M, M4J, M1N, M4C, M4K, M5A
  • Junction/High Park: M6P, M6S
  • South Scarborough: M1M, M1E, M1C, M1L, M1K, M4B

As a homeowner, you may qualify for a low interest loan through HELP if:

  • you own a detached, semi-detached, row or mobile home;
  • all of the property owners on title consent to the Program;
  • your property tax and utility payments to the City are in good standing; and
  • you obtain written consent from your mortgage lender, if applicable.

Note: The pilot program is a three-year program. Additional postal code areas will become eligible to participate in the future. Is your neighbourhood not covered? Keep in touch by either subscribing to Toronto E-updates or completing a Pre-application form (below) to join our waiting list.

What types of home energy improvements are eligible for a low interest loan through HELP?

The following are examples of improvements supported by HELP:

  • High efficiency furnace/boiler
  • High efficiency central air conditioner
  • High efficiency water heater
  • Heat recovery/energy recovery ventilator
  • Drain water heat recovery system
  • Window/door replacement
  • Air sealing (i.e. weather stripping, caulking)
  • Attic insulation
  • Exterior wall insulation
  • Basement insulation
  • Toilet replacement
  • Heat recovery/energy recovery ventilator

How do I apply?

Five steps to get a low interest loan from HELP

Step 1: Pre-Qualification

  1. Complete a Pre-Application Form. The City will confirm your eligibility and let you know the maximum funding amount available to you. The maximum amount – including the funding amount, interest and an administrative charge – cannot exceed 5% of the current value assessment (CVA) for your property.
  2. If your home is subject to a mortgage, the City will provide a letter and form for you to provide to your mortgage lender. Your mortgage lender's written consent is required before you proceed to Step 2.

Step 2: Home Energy Assessment and Funding Request

  1. Book a home energy assessment with an Energy Advisor certified by Natural Resources Canada. The assessment will include a basement-to-attic assessment of your home’s insulation, heating and cooling systems, and detection of air leaks and drafts. When the assessment is complete, you will receive:
    • a full report on the energy efficiency of your home, and recommendations for specific improvements;
    • an EnerGuide[1] score - a rating between 0-100 of your home's current energy performance; and
    • information on available incentives and rebates.

For a list of qualified Energy Advisors and more information on incentives and rebates for home energy assessments, visit the Enbridge Gas website: http://knowyourenergyscore.ca

  1. Determine project scope and source contractor quotations.
  • After you have completed the home energy assessment, it's time to decide which improvements you would like to undertake. Keep in mind your desired energy savings, goals and budget when considering the recommendations suggested by the Energy Advisor.
  • Then, the homeowner should discuss the desired improvements with prospective contractors and obtain a quote, or multiple quotes if appropriate, for each improvement. 
  1. Complete a Funding Request Form. Once you have identified the specific improvements you intend to undertake based on the home assessment and have obtained contractor(s) quotations, submit a Funding Request with the following details:  
    • the list of intended improvements you wish to undertake;
    • details and cost estimates for the intended improvements based on contractor quote(s); and
    • identify the applicable incentives and rebates available to you from the utility companies.

Step 3:  Property Owner Agreement

Once the City has approved your funding request, you will be sent a Property Owner Agreement (POA) to sign, which is the funding agreement between the property owner(s) and the City. You must sign the POA and return it to the City. 

Once your signed POA is received by the City, signed by the Chief Corporate Officer and certified by the City Clerk, an initial disbursement of 10 per cent (10%) of the funding amount will be provided to you to help get your project underway (if requested).

Read the sample Property Owner Agreement (POA).

Step 4:  Complete your home energy improvements

  1. After you have hired a contractor(s) and completed the work, book your post-retrofit assessment with your Energy Advisor. The Advisor will verify the improvements and provide a new EnerGuide score for your home. 
  2. Submit a Project Completion Report to the City that includes the final improvement cost and your new EnerGuide score. The City will then send you a final disbursement cheque upon verification of your project completion.

Be advised that homeowners assume full responsibility for the work performed including: hiring and paying contractors; selecting improvement materials, installation and quality of work performed; obtaining all required provincial and/or municipal permits; and payment of all applicable taxes.

Step 5: Repay the loan over time via your property tax bill

Now that your project is complete, the City will levy a special charge onto your property. You will be notified before this happens. A portion of the special charge will then be added to your tax bill annually. You will begin to repay the City via eleven monthly installments per year (no payments in January). Since you will be automatically enrolled in the City's pre-authorized payment plan, the monthly deductions will occur automatically.

At any time during the term, the homeowner can make a one-time payment of the outstanding amount balance remaining, without penalty. In doing so, the HELP loan will be cleared from the property.

The City collects HELP payments via the property tax bill in the same manner, and subject to the same penalties, remedies and lien priorities, as property taxes.

HELP interest rates & terms

HELP offers low interest rates and flexible terms to fit your budget. Interest rates are fixed and will not fluctuate over the term. The table below shows the terms and corresponding interest rates that are valid until December 31, 2014, and may be subject to change thereafter.

Terms Program Interest Rates
5 years 2.5%
10 years 3.75%
15 years 4.25%

An administrative charge of two per cent (2%), reflective of the City of Toronto’s cost of administering the Program, will be applied and calculated on the final funding amount. 

HELP affordability table

The chart below is for informational purposes only.  It shows estimates to help you understand what your monthly HELP payments might be.

  Estimated Monthly Payment – 11 payments/year
Funding Amount 5 years 10 years 15 years
$10,000 $200 $110 $80
$15,000 $305 $165 $120
$20,000 $405 $220 $160
$25,000 $505 $275 $200
$30,000 $610 $330 $240

HELP Homeowner Guide

This HELP Homeowner Guide provides step-by-step details to guide you through the HELP application process.

Frequently asked questions

To learn more about the HELP program, read these frequently asked questions and answers.  

Thank you to our program funders

The City of Toronto is grateful for the generous financial and in-kind contributions from the organizations that supported the program start-up and implementation costs:

  • Ontario Power Authority
  • Toronto Atmospheric Fund
  • Natural Resources Canada
  • Enbridge Gas Distribution
  • Toronto Hydro

HELP Forms and Documents

Subscribe to email updates

To receive periodic updates on the implementation of this program, visit Toronto E-updates enter your email address, select 'Home Energy Loan Program', and click 'subscribe' at the top of the page.


[1] EnerGuide is an official mark of Natural Resources Canada.