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Going Solar Has Never Been Easier (or cheaper)

The Toronto Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) provides low-interest financing to Toronto homeowners installing solar panel systems to reduce their hydro bills

HELP: Toronto’s New Financing Option for Solar Panel Systems Installation

The cost of traditional sources of energy has increased by more than 50% in the last 8 years and is likely to continue to increase by 6–7% each year. As such, many Ontario homeowners are beginning to look to alternative sources of energy to power their homes, reduce their energy consumption, and offset their hydro bills. To that extent, the city of Toronto, alongside the federal government of Canada, fully supports and encourages its residents to install solar PV systems to reduce their power consumption by way of the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) and the Canada Greener Homes Grant initiative.

 

Through these solar energy enhanced financing options and initiatives, all eligible homeowners may qualify for up to $125,000 in interest-free loans and an additional $5,600 in grants per participant for home evaluations and energy-efficient retrofits. Thus, making it easier and more affordable for Toronto residents to invest in solar PV systems to improve their home’s energy efficiency and, as a result, make their home more comfortable and save them money. To that end, there has never been a better time to invest in solar power.

 

On July 7, 2022, the City of Toronto introduced the enhanced Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) with low interest rates. To that extent, in this article, we will help you to better understand how the enhanced Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) works and how you can take advantage of the various financing options, such as low fixed interest rates and amortization terms of up to 20 years on qualifying measures, in addition to other government-funded incentive programs available to you.

 

To start us off, here are just a few of the benefits of the HELP financing program:

 

  1. HELP eliminates the significant initial expense of making home energy upgrades.
  2. HELP provides homeowners with a low-interest loan of up to $125,000 towards home energy improvements, with cheaper interest rates and longer payment durations. 
  3. HELP funding is linked to the property and the tax bill, not the homeowner.
  4. HELP loans can be paid off at any point throughout the loan term with no penalties.
  5. HELP enables homeowners to take advantage of additional incentives, such as those offered by Toronto Hydro. 
  6. HELP can be combined with other energy-saving rebates and incentives, such as the Canada Greener Homes Grant, that are supported by the City of Toronto, the Province of Ontario, the Government of Canada, and utility providers.

 

Home Energy Loan Program (HELP)

The Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) offers a viable solution for Toronto homeowners who are interested in making improvements to the energy efficiency of their home. This allows homeowners who qualify to apply for a low-interest loan of up to $125,000 to cover the cost of home energy-efficiency upgrades such as:

 

Solar hot water systems

High-efficiency furnaces/boilers/air conditioners

Rooftop solar PV panels

Air-source heat pumps

Electric vehicle charging stations (Level 2)

Window or door replacements

Battery storage

Basement/attic/exterior wall insulation.

 
*For more information on qualifying home energy-efficiency improvements, please refer to the SolarTO website

 

Moreover, HELP makes it easier and more inexpensive for Toronto residents to pay for home energy improvements over time, in addition to granting them access to utility company rebates, with low fixed interest rates and amortization terms of up to 20 years on qualifying measures. To that end, once funding has been approved, homeowners can choose the solar contractor of their choice and finish the modifications to their property. 

 

You can repay the loan in monthly instalments on your property tax statement, or you may pay the outstanding sum without penalty at any moment throughout the loan’s duration to clear the loan from your property. Loan payments received through the property tax bill are regarded the same as other loan payments and are subject to the same penalties, remedies, and lien priority. To that extent, regular payments on the Property Tax Bill are used to repay the City of Toronto. And the cost savings from the energy retrofits will be used to offset the City of Toronto’s monthly payments.

 

It’s important to note that the loan repayment is attached to the property and NOT the owner. This means that if you sell your property before the loan is paid off, the new owner will assume responsibility for the loan balance and continue to make instalment payments to the city. Applications for the 0% Home Energy Loan Program will be accepted as of July 7th, 2022. Learn more about eligibility and the application process, as well as the interest rates and terms for the enhanced Home Energy Loan Program in the sections below.

 

NOTE: For further information, contact homeenergyloan@toronto.ca or visit the HELP website. Additionally, if your project is currently in progress and/or you require financing immediately, the current interest rates and terms indicated in the “Interest Rates and Terms” section below will apply.

Interest Rates and Terms

For those Toronto homeowners looking to install a solar panel system on their property, HELP provides low-interest rates as low as 0% and flexible repayment options to match your needs. Interest rates are set and will not change over time. Below, we have provided you with a table to help illustrate the rates and terms valid until June 15, 2022.

 

Estimated Monthly Payment (11 per year)

Terms

Fixed Interest Rate

5 years

2.58%

10 years

3.11%

15 years

3.59%

20 years**

3.73%

 

Moreover, in accordance with the HELP guidelines, the following terms apply:

 

  1. A 2% administrative charge will be imposed to represent the city’s administrative costs for the program.
  2. Homeowners repay the loan through their property tax bill and may pay it off at any time without penalty.
  3. Only projects including solar PV, geothermal installation, new windows, and/or heat pumps are eligible for a 20-year amortization.

 

Eligibility

In accordance with the Home Energy Loan Program guidelines, put forth by the municipality of Toronto, homeowners interested in home energy improvements, such as solar PV systems and energy storage, may qualify for a low-interest loan through HELP if the following measures apply:

 

  1. You own a detached, semi-detached, or row or townhouse, a duplex, triplex, or a home with up to three levels and fewer than six units (the postal code must begin with an “M”). Presently, strata condo units are ineligible.
  2. All property owners on title have agreed to participate in the initiative.
  3. There have been no late property tax or utility payments to the city in the last three years.
  4. If your home is mortgaged, you will receive written approval from your mortgage lender. *

 

NOTE: If your home is financed, we will give you a special Lender Consent Form.

Application Process

When it comes to investing in a solar panel system for your Toronto home, the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) is the perfect alternative to traditional financing methods. Allowing homeowners to apply to the City of Toronto directly and engage in an agreement to complete the required or desired energy home modifications. Once you have completed the application process, the city then assesses a charge (the cost of upgrades) on the property that is participating. However, there are also interest and administrative fees, which one must also take into consideration after the approved funding amount.

 

It’s important to note that when looking to install a solar panel system in Toronto, the licensed professionals at SolarUp will help to facilitate the whole application process for you. We handle every aspect, from permitting, regulatory, and financing applications to the installation of your residential solar system. This makes it even easier for you to obtain the solar financing you require. For more information or help with the purchase, installation, or application process, contact the experts at SolarUp today!

 

Follow these 5 easy steps for applying for the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP):

Step 1: Complete the Pre-Application Form

When the City receives and approves your application, we will give you a financing offer stating the maximum amount that your property is eligible for HELP.

Step 2: Book Your Home Energy Assessment & Funding Request

After completing the application form, you must book a home energy evaluation with an Energy Advisor certified by Natural Resources Canada. After that, you will be required to determine the cost of the home energy improvements you wish to make and send in your financing report to the city.

Step 3: Complete & Sign the Property Owner Agreement (POA)

Once the City has approved your funding request, you will be sent a POA to sign and return to the city. This is the funding agreement between the property owner(s) and the City. Once the POA is accepted by the city, we may contribute up to 30% of the funding to assist you in getting your project started.

Step 4: Complete Your Home Energy Improvements and Submit Your Project Completion Report:

Once your project has concluded, make an appointment with your Energy Advisor for a post-retrofit home energy evaluation and new EnerGuide rating. After that, you must submit a Project Completion Report signed by your Energy Advisor, along with your contractor’s invoices and your new EnerGuide rating label.

Step 5: Repay the Loan Over Time Via Your Property Tax Bill:

After your project is completed, the city will inform you when your loan instalments begin. You will be registered in the city’s Pre-Authorized Tax Payment program and will repay the city in 11 monthly instalments during the course of your loan.

 

Ready to Get Started?

Solar panels are one of the most well-known forms of renewable energy, and they have already revolutionized many Toronto homes and businesses. Learn how this technology can help you improve both your power supply and your bottom line from the highly trained professionals at SolarUp. For all your solar power financing needs, contact us today. We make applying for the Home Energy Loan Program (HELP) and the federal government’s Canada Greener Homes Grant initiative a breeze. Let us assist you in reducing your monthly energy consumption and electricity costs.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

According to Section 1.3.1.1 (f) Div A of the Ontario Building Code requirements, a building permit is to be issued prior to the installation of any solar collector (solar PV systems) that are mounted on a building and has a face area equal to or greater than 5 sq m (50 sq feet). However, during the installation process our team at SolarUp will be sure to take care of all permitting paperwork requirements for you.

On average, most solar companies work to install a residential rooftop solar PV system in one to three days. However, this is all dependent on the number of panels your custom solar PV system requires and how complicated the installation process is. Although, there are certain aspects of a solar installation, which are said to take more time, such as gathering local permits and inspections.

The national average up-front cost is $18,500 for the installation of a 6-kW solar panel system of a 1,500 square foot home with a consumption of about 7,200 kWh per year (or about $125 electricity bill per month). With that in mind, the price per watt for installing solar panels can change depending on the home’s geographical location. More commonly residential solar panels range from 3 kW to 10 kW in size. Thus, the average cost for a system of that size varies anywhere from $9,000 to $30,000 for the cost of the total installation before taxes, rebates, grants or interest free loans, credits or discounts. To determine the average cost of a solar panel system in relation to its size, use a solar panel cost calculator to provide a more accurate picture. 

A solar system that includes solar batteries is known as a solar-plus-storage system. These systems are becoming increasingly popular amongst residential homeowners’, due to their energy efficiency storage capabilities. However, additional solar batteries or solar-plus-storage is not a requirement for most solar homeowners in Ontario because of existing Net-Metering program that is made available to solar homeowners. So long as your solar system is connected to the utility grid with the Net-Metering programme, your system does not require a battery or solar-plus-storage system. The utility company essentially acts as your own batter for a modest connection fee of about $30 per month.  Considering all excess power that is generated by your solar panel system, is directed back into the utility grid, which at no additional cost you can get back as a credit if your home requires more electricity than your panels can generate at any time in the day.

SolarUp – Ontario #1 Solar Panel Installation & Design Company