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New Hydro program makes energy upgrades affordable

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Manitobans now have more incentive to upgrade their furnace or the insulation in their homes.

Manitoba Hydro will pay the installation costs upfront while assuring customers their energy savings will cover the monthly retrofit payment. What's more, program benefits are transferable to a new owner if you sell your home.

"Manitoba Hydro's new Pay-as-You-Save program is the first of its kind in Canada. With huge upfront costs gone, more families will be able to make smart, energy-efficiency improvements to their homes and save money each month," Premier Greg Selinger said Monday in launching the PAYS program.

Selinger said the program will save families money, and he predicted it will significantly reduce the province's energy consumption.

The NDP promised the program during last year's provincial election campaign.

This past June, the province enacted the Energy Savings Act to encourage energy- and water-efficiency upgrades of existing homes and buildings. In response, Manitoba Hydro launched Pay-as-You-Save financing.

Participants will pay a fixed interest rate of 3.9 per cent over the program's first five years.

The new financing program will initially be limited to single-family housing, but the province said it will be expanded in the future to cover multi-unit residential, commercial and institutional buildings.

The minimum allowable financing amount is $500. The maximum financing term depends on the upgrade, Hydro says. If multiple upgrades are financed at the same time, the maximum finance term for all upgrades will be based on the upgrade with the longest term.

The program is not available for unoccupied homes, seasonal homes (cottages), apartment buildings or new homes under construction.

Only materials and equipment costs are covered for do-it-yourself projects.

Hydro spokesman Glenn Schneider said residents who have taken out Power Smart residential loans cannot transfer their loans to the new PAYS loan program.

"The PAYS program... is an entirely new financing program that is slightly different in that it aims to ensure that a customer's monthly bill after their retrofit is no different than it was prior to the retrofit -- the bill goes down from the energy savings and the monthly payment is calculated to be slightly less than those energy savings," he said in an email.


Who qualifies?

Single-family residential homeowners will qualify.


What retrofits are eligible?


High-efficiency gas furnaces, geothermal systems, insulation, drain-water heat recovery systems, water-heating equipment and water-saving toilets. (Water-saving toilets are only eligible if combined with an energy-saving upgrade.)


What are the benefits?

Since the program is tied to your property, it is transferable from one homeowner to another, or from property manager to tenant. Your monthly payment, which appears on your energy bill, will be more than offset by your annual energy savings when averaged on a monthly basis.


How do I get more information?


Manitoba Hydro says your contractor or retailer will work with you to determine if your project is eligible for financing and will help you complete the program financing agreement. For more information, check out Hydro's website:

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 6, 2012 A5

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