Energy efficiency programs in Indigenous communities
In Canada, there are several conservation programs aimed at helping to reduce energy use and improve energy efficiency in a wide array of settings. In particular, there are a few different programs that are specific to aiding First Nation communities with reducing their electricity usage in residential settings.
In this guide, we’ll be going through important information for both the Ontario and British Columbia iterations of this program such as eligibility criteria and what upgrades are available through this program.
What is the First Nations Conservation Program in Ontario?
The First Nations Conservation Program in Ontario helps to qualify First Nation homes that are on-reserve with energy conservation and energy efficiency. The Independent Electricity System Operator and Save on Energy offer this program and deliver its services free of charge for eligible customers.
How does the program work?
1. Your Home’s Energy Use is Examined
Your home will be visited, and recommendations will be made for the best upgrades for your home. Things that will be examined include the type of light bulbs you’re using, the age of your appliances (e.g. fridges and window AC units) and if there are areas of poor insulation such as in your attic or basement if your home is electrically heated.
2. Energy Efficient Upgrades Will be Installed
After an assessment of your home’s energy efficiency, upgrades will be supplied and installed at no cost to aid in electricity conservation.
3. Other Advice on Energy Efficiency
You’ll be shown how to best use the new upgrades to your home as well as other ways that you can save on energy usage.
What are upgrades are possible with this program?
Below are upgrades that may be provided with this program:
- Block heater timers
- Programmable thermostats
- Low-flow showerheads
- ENERGY STAR certified appliances
- Energy STAR certified LED bulbs
- Smart power bars
- Faucet aerators
- Attic and basement insulation
- Hot water tank wrap and pipe insulation
Who qualifies for this program?
To qualify for the First Nations Conservation Program in Ontario, you need to meet the following requirements:
- You must be a First Nations person living in a participating First Nations community.
- If you own your home, it must be your primary residence.
- You must be a primary or secondary account holder or live in band-owned housing.
- If you rent your home, you must have the consent of the building owner/manager.
What communities have been visited?
Below is a list of communities where improvements to home energy efficiency have been made:
- Aundeck Omni Kaning
- Chippewa of the Thames
- Constance Lake
- Mississauga #8
- Moose Deer Point
- Pic River
- Rainy River
- Taykwa Tagamou
- Whitefish River
How can I see if my community will be visited? Where can I get more information?
If you’re a member of a First Nations community in Ontario, you can contact First Nations Engineering Services Limited at firstname.lastname@example.org to see if they will visit your community. For more information and other inquiries, you can contact 1-844-349-8972.
What is the First Nations Conservation Program in British Columbia?
There are two programs aimed at assisting Indigenous communities with energy efficiency in BC – the BC Hydro Indigenous Communities Conservation Program and the FortisBC Indigenous Communities Conservation Program. Much like the conservation program in Ontario, free energy-saving products such as showerheads and weatherstripping are provided. Certified energy auditors work with the community to identify significant areas of heat loss and inefficiencies within homes.
Additionally, training is provided for local contractors and installers for upgrading such homes.
Lastly, BC Hydro and FortisBC both offer rebates on home efficiency upgrades including but not limited to ventilation, windows, insulation, doors, furnaces, heat pumps, water heaters and new appliances in eligible BC communities. You can refer to the ‘What are upgrades are possible with this program?’ section for the program in Ontario to get an idea of what upgrades would be available for the BC programs as well.
How do these programs work?
A designated Project Lead from your community will be responsible for working with BC Hydro/FortisBC for delivering the program locally.
That may include:
- Hiring people to install free energy saving products (with salary support from BC Hydro).
- Applying to BC Hydro for rebates on eligible home energy upgrades that have been installed.
- Coordinating visits to homes where trained people will assess opportunities for energy upgrades and energy-saving products in residences.
- Coordinating training between Band staff and local installers/contractors.
- Ordering free energy saving products for homes via BC Hydro’s online store front.
Who is eligible?
Below are the conditions required to be eligible for this program:
- Individuals must live in an Indigenous community (Band) located within BC Hydro’s or FortisBC’s service territory.
These programs are ideal for Bands that:
- Have plans to complete energy efficiency upgrades and require support for improving energy efficiency.
- Previously participated in the Energy Conservation Assistance Program but would like to complete additional home efficiency upgrades.
- Have job readiness programs or trades training that provide local skilled labor.
Where can you apply?
To get started, you can contact BC Hydro at 1-866-266-6366 or email email@example.com or FortisBC at 1-866-884-8833 (Press 4) or email firstname.lastname@example.org. There will be a designated Project Lead in your community who will coordinate one or both programs in your community.