City of Toronto Home Energy Loan Program

Energy costs always seem to be rising. For this reason, the Home Energy Loan Program was created. Homeowners want to make improvements to their home that will make their home more energy efficient. The problem is that many of these improvements can be very expensive, and the homeowner may not be able to afford to do these upgrades. However, HELP is the program that can give these homeowners the relief they need.
What is the HELP (Home Energy Loan Program)?
The Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) allows homeowners in Toronto to get a low-interest loan for home energy improvement projects. This loan is up to $75,000 and covers a variety of different improvements, including:

  • Air Source Heat Pumps
  • High-Efficiency Furnaces/Air Conditioners/ Boilers
  • Basement/Attic/Exterior Wall Insulation
  • Door/Window Replacements
  • High-Efficiency Water Heaters
  • Geothermal Systems
  • Rooftop Solar PV Panels
  • Toilet Replacements
  • Drain-Water Heat Recovery Systems
  • Air Sealing (things like caulking and weather stripping)
  • Solar Hot Water System

The HELP loans have low fixed interest rates and offer terms up to 15 years. HELP aims to make it easier for homeowners to pay for the home improvements over time. These loans also provide access to the rebates that are offered by the utility companies and the Province of Ontario. As soon as the funding for the HELP loans is approved, homeowners can then hire the contractor of their choice to complete these renovations.
How to Apply for HELP?
To qualify for this loan, you need to meet the eligibility requirements, which include
•    If you own a row house, semi-detached house, or a detached house
•    All property owners on the title consent to the program
•    If your property tax and utility payments are in good standing
•    If applicable, you need to obtain written permission from your mortgage lender. (If you have a mortgage on your home, you can receive a Lender Consent Form).
After you have determined whether or not you are eligible for this program, you can begin the application process. This section will walk you through the application process so that you know what to expect during this process.
1.    You first need to complete an application form for HELP. The city will review your application form when you receive it and decide whether or not they are going to approve it. Then, the city will send you an offer for funding that will show the maximum amount that you are eligible for through HELP. If you have a mortgage, you will need to get the consent of your lender before you can get this funding offer.
2.    Then, you need to get a home energy assessment and funding request. This assessment includes a basement-to-attic evaluation of the insulation in your home, as well as the cooling and heating. It will also look for any leaks and drafts that your home may have. After the assessment has been completed, you will get a Renovation Upgrade Report that discusses recommendations for specific improvements for your home. You will also get an EnerGuide rating based on the energy performance of your home. Then, you will receive all of the information on the available incentives and rebates.
From here, you can submit the funding request for the necessary improvements. Think about the improvements that you want to make in the space and get a quote from the contractors of your choosing, depending on your goals, recommendations of the energy advisor, and your budget. The funding request needs to have:
•    List of the improvements that you are interested in
•    The details and quotes on these improvements
•    An estimated incentive and rebates list that are available to you
3.    When the City approves your funding request, you will then receive the Property Owner Agreement, which is the funding agreement between the City and property owners. You need to sign the Property Owner Agreement and return it to the city. If the POA is approved, you can request for up to 30% of the funds to get your project started.
4.    After the project has been completed, you will get a post-retrofit home energy assessment. The Energy Advisor will check out the improvements to verify them, giving you a new EnerGuide rating for the home.
5.    Upon completion of the project, the City will let you know when you can begin your loan payments. You will become enrolled in the City’s pre-authorized tax payment plan and repay the city through 11 installments made annually over the term of the loan. You can pay this off at any time without any penalty.
Advantages of HELP
There are quite a few advantages of the HELP program. One of the biggest benefits is that it helps to circumvent the significant upfront costs that you are typically subject to when making home energy improvements. Increasing the energy efficiency of your home is not only great for the environment, but it’s also great for your utility bills. However, this can be an expensive process for homeowners. Another benefit is that the financing is associated with your property and the tax bill rather than with the homeowner. Then, there is the fact that you can pay off the loan at any time during the loan term, without worrying about any penalties. With HELP loans, you get lower interest rates and longer payment terms when compared to the various other types of financing. Lastly, HELP allows homeowners to utilize other incredible incentives, such as the ones offered by Toronto Hydro.
Conclusion
Homeowners are always looking for ways to save money on their expenses. By making your home more energy efficient, you can reduce your carbon footprint and save money on your utilities. You will also feel more comfortable in your home. If you want to make these necessary improvements to make your home more energy efficient but lack the funds to do so, HELP is a program that makes these home improvements a reality for you. The process is relatively simple and will be more than worth it when you get the home improvement projects completed.