What Homeowners Need to Know About Ontario’s Five-Year Climate Change Action Plan

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The government of Ontario released its Climate Change Action Plan on Wednesday, listing $8.3 billion worth of upgrades and advances to energy, infrastructure, and new home development. The Wynne government aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 15% by 2020, and 80% by 2050.

Homeowners, we’ve saved you some time and detailed the key points for homeowners. Also, keep in mind that this is only a plan. These changes are in the planning stages—meaning not law yet—so watch for various start dates between 2017 and 2020.

Electric charging stations

The provincial government will be extending the rebate program for those buying an electric vehicle and installing a charging station in their home, and they are taking extra steps to encourage the use of electric cars.

All new homes and townhomes with garages will be required to be fitted with wiring and the bare essentials so that homeowners can use a charging station in their homes; the same goes for all new commercial buildings as well.

Lauren Haw, CEO of Zoocasa, says the homeowner will be the one who is going to eat the cost of these stations.

“Because all newly built homes must include these receptacles, the cost of building a home will increase,” she says. “It’s doubtful that builders will pick up the extra costs, and these new costs will be passed on to new home purchasers.”

Overnight charging

The provincial government plans to work with utilities companies to offer free overnight electric vehicle charging, to help balance electricity demands and lower electric bill costs. This would affect single-family and multi-unit residential homes, meaning you can charge your vehicles at home for free—for the next four years, according to the report.

“How the utilities companies will monitor and distinguish how the electricity is being used is yet to be determined,” says Haw.

Electric vehicle charging in municipal parking

The report mentions that there will be surface-level parking lots available in certain areas, including downtown cores, that will have charging stations available for users. But this doesn’t mean there will be space for all car owners, and doesn’t discuss street-level charging or the costs associated with these public stations.

“What is going to happen in urban centres?” asks Haw. “Many homes don’t have private parking—only street parking—so where are they going to charge their electric cars?”

“Many of these homes could have front pad parking,” meaning a small, paved space in their front yards, “but Toronto no longer approve new pad parking applications, which leaves thousands of homeowners between a province incentivising charging stations and a municipality making implementation impossible.

Improve energy efficiency of residential homes and buildings

New homeowners can receive a rebate if they’re able to buy or build a home that has a near net zero carbon emission. This can be achieved by installing solar panels, using geothermal heat, and planting trees, to offset energy use and carbon footprint.

Energy audits for pre-sale homes

By 2019, every single-family home will require an energy audit before it can be listed for sale. These audits will be free of charge—though it’s unsure by whom—and the audit’s findings will be included in the real estate listing. While this is beneficial for homeowners wanting to purchase a net zero home, who want a better understanding of a home’s mechanics, those with older homes may have to make large investments in upgrades prior to selling.

“It’s unclear from the report whether energy auditors will be government employees or private workers,” says Haw. “I’m always skeptical of free,” adding that waiting for government-funded auditors, if there are a limited number for each area, could be time-taxing. “This could hamper the listing market by delaying the supply of new homes being listed, and the market doesn’t need anything reducing supply right now.”

Conclusions

While the report lists some great ideation around improving the environmental impact of homeowners and their activities, it leaves a lot of logistical questions hanging. Until there are specific details for a number of these plans—especially the energy audits and overnight charging—people shouldn’t be banking on their arrival.

Flickr: Philippe Put

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