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Tacking energy efficiency on your tax bill

Concept will be explored at Tuesday event
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Getting the cash together to make major energy efficiency retrofits to homes and commercial property can be a problem. It costs a lot of money.

But Evan Ferrari, executive director of eMERGE Guelph, says there is a potential solution through the Guelph Energy Efficiency Retrofit Strategy (GEERS). The program is being considered as part of the city’s Community Energy Initiative.

Ferrari explained that GEERS would allow those eligible to have the cost of major retrofits blended into their property taxes, through a so-called local improvement charge. Instead of borrowing the money or taking out a hefty line of credit, the cost of the work could be integrated into the tax bill.

“You don’t own the debt,” he said. “The debt is on your property taxes, and it’s attached to your house. You pay it off through your property tax.”

Even if the home was sold, the cost of the retrofit would remain on the tax bill until paid down. There are a wide range of energy efficiency measures that can be carried out on a property, at varying costs.  

The intention, he said, is to set up the amortization of the debt in such a way that the property owner would be saving more money than paying out, factoring in savings on the cost of energy.  

The Guelph Chamber of Commerce and eMERGE are hosting a series of events to inform individuals, businesses and institution about the concept. An event with experts takes place on Tuesday, April 26, 1 p.m. at Innovation Guelph, and will feature real estate and energy management professionals with knowledge of this funding retrofits through property taxes.

The event is free, but registration is required through Eventbrite at

“It’s not necessarily a panacea,” Ferrari said. “From our perspective around climate change it’s one more tool in the toolbox to make it easier for people to really do these deep energy retrofits. Because financing is quite often a problem.”

A not-for-profit organization, eMERGE helps people save money by managing their energy, waste, and water, and encouraging the use of alternative transportation and sustainable food.

Speakers at Tuesday’s event will include Bill Johnston, real estate manager and leg counsel for Bosley Real Estate, Sonja Persram, president of Sustainable Alternatives Consulting Inc., and Bob Bach, director of Sustainable Buildings Canada.