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Energy Matters: December 2023

Energy Matters: December 2023

In this latest issue of Energy Matters, HSC brings you free energy efficiency training opportunities, important information about electricity rate changes and energy efficiency equipment incentives.

On behalf of everyone at HSC, we wish you a safe and happy holiday season!

In this issue:

Tap into Free Energy Training Opportunities for 2024

Image of a house with energy efficiencies highlighted, including airtight construction, Energy Star windows and equipment, air-sealing and insulation.
Source: Natural Resources Canada

Amid rising utility rates and municipal net-zero targets, reducing energy use and greenhouse gas emissions are increasingly on the agenda for Ontario housing providers. It can be tough to know where to start, and that’s where training comes in. There are many valuable, free offerings available from creditable organizations to support a range of knowledge levels. Here are a few offerings to check out:

Free Webinar: Efficient HVAC System Operations for Multi-unit Residential Buildings

Coming up January 16, 2024, this free 1-hour webinar will provide actionable guidance to help housing providers identify heating and cooling systems typically found in multi-family buildings and improve their efficiency through operational and control-based approaches. It is being presented by the Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO).

Online Course: Building Operator Training for Community Housing

In this online course you’ll learn how to keep your homes and buildings operating efficiently by reducing energy usage and creating comfortable living conditions for your tenants, all while saving money. Offered free by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities, the course provides 30-60-minute modules that cover topics such as water conservation, electricity billing, air conditioning, heating, ventilation, lighting, and electrical equipment. It can be done at your own pace and is free to Canadian community housing operators. Sign up now while it’s still available!

Webinar Series: U.S. Department of Energy’s Better Buildings

With free webinars every two weeks, this series presents informative case studies, best practices, and innovative strategies, all with a sustainability and energy performance focus. You can also access recordings of past webinars from this series to inspire your next project.

Conference Resources: Innovations in Energy Efficiency

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Department of Energy presented an 8-part virtual conference back in 2021. The recordings are available to watch any time and provide practical content on the energy efficient rehabilitation of single- and multi-family housing. 

Short Videos: Electricity Explained

The IESO has short videos to explain various aspects of the electricity system. Topics of particular interest include energy storage and the IESO’s Pathways to Decarbonization study, which looks at electricity system options to support increased electrification.

If you know about trainings that would benefit fellow housing providers, please let us know so we can share them in future issues of Energy Matters.

Bottom Line Impacts: Increases to Electricity Rebate and Pricing in Effect

Last month, the Province’s changes to electricity pricing and the bill rebate came into effect, with potential to impact social housing providers and tenants’ bottom lines.

Rate Increases

Earlier this fall, the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) announced increases to electricity prices for customers under the Regulated Price Plan (RPP). The changes came into effect on November 1 and apply to winter Time-of-Use (TOU) hours and the threshold for residential customers on Tiered pricing. The increases ranged from 18% to 21%:

Winter (effective Nov. 1, 2023)Periods/ThresholdsNew RatePrevious Rate% Change
Time of Use Off-PeakWeekdays 7 p.m. – 7 a.m.
All day weekends and holidays
Time of Use Mid-PeakWeekdays 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.12.210.220%
Time of Use On-PeakWeekdays 7-11 a.m. and 5-7 p.m.18.215.121%
Tiered Pricing Tier 1Residential – first 1,000 kWh/month
Non-residential – first 750 kWh/month
Tiered Pricing Tier 2Residential – electricity above 1,000 kWh/month
Non-residential – electricity above 750 kWh/month
Source: ECNG Energy

Residential RPP electricity customers can choose their electricity price plan. Check the OEB’s website for more information on the options, what to consider, and how to switch.

Tip: you may find that one plan works for you in one season while another plan is best for the rest of the year, or that one plan works all year. This calculator gives you an idea of which plan may fit your building’s usage patterns best.

Electricity Rebate Increases

The Province also increased the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) to 19.3%. The rebate is provided on electricity bills for residential customers, with the total bill impact varying depending on the customer’s electricity use and the utility that supplies their electricity. The increase was introduced to help offset the winter electricity price increases.

Electricity Support Program Threshold Increases

The Ontario government has increased the income eligibility thresholds by up to 35% for its Ontario Electricity Support Program (OESP). This will allow more low-income households to access the program’s on-bill credits.

If you are a housing provider whose tenants pay for in-suite electricity, let them know they can apply to the OESP for a monthly bill credit. Tenants who are struggling to pay their electricity and/or natural gas bills can also access the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program to receive up to $600 in emergency assistance if they are behind on their bills and face disconnection.

As we move into the winter season, be sure to plan for the above rate increases and rebates in your budgets and share information about bill assistance programs with your tenants.

Making It Easier to Save with Increased Electricity Incentives

The Independent Electricity System Operator (IESO) recently announced changes to its electricity efficiency incentive programs for both small and large buildings. Let’s take a look:

Heat Pumps Added to Energy Affordability Program

The IESO is now offering cold climate air source heat pumps (ccASHP) under its Save On Energy – Energy Affordability Program (EAP). The EAP and its heat pump offering are free and specifically designed for electricity heated income-eligible households, including single family and townhome social and affordable housing buildings with three stories or less.

The heat pumps provide both home heating and cooling and can help reduce costs by up to 50% when switching from an electric furnace or baseboard. The program also offers a 2-year free maintenance warranty and a 10-year equipment and labour warranty on the heat pump.

In addition to the new heat pump offering, the EAP provides several free energy-saving upgrades, including professionally installed replacement appliances, such as ENERGY STAR® refrigerators, freezers, window air conditioners, and lighting; weatherstripping around doors and windows; attic and basement insulation; and smart thermostats and power strips. Visit the Energy Affordability Program – Save on Energy website for more information.

Illustration of heat pump components, such as outdoor coil, compressor, reversing valve, expansion device and inside coil.
Source: Natural Resources Canada

Save On Energy Retrofit Program

Image of a variable frequency drive
Source: HVAC School

The IESO recently increased incentives for many non-lighting prescriptive – or targeted – measures under its Save on Energy Retrofit program. This program provides financial incentives to upgrade several non-lighting technologies, such as variable frequency drives, controls, fan motors, chillers, and air conditioners. Housing providers with multi-family buildings can apply to the prescriptive stream to receive incentives on these technologies. For more complex retrofit projects, providers can apply to the program’s Custom stream.

Save on Energy is also changing the way it incentivizes lighting measures. Starting December 18, 2023, it’s launching the Instant Discounts program, which provides incentives for energy-efficient lighting directly to distributors so they can provide instant point-of-sale discounts to customers. Most lighting incentives under the Retrofit program will no longer be available after this period.

If you are planning an energy efficiency project, make sure to review available incentives, and the application process, before you begin.

Track Your Utilities with UMP

UMP logo

How do you know if your utility use is increasing or decreasing when weather changes year to year? How can you tell if any energy and water saving projects are having an impact? HSC’s Utility Management Program (UMP) accounts for differences in weather each year so you can view an apples-to-apples comparison of your building utility performance over time and from one year to the next.

Use UMP to monitor your utility consumption so you know if your building is performing better or worse season-to-season and year-to-year. Log in to UMP to view your latest UMP dashboards and Gas, Electricity, and Water reports. If you have questions about your UMP results, contact us!

Other Topics? 

If you’d like to suggest a topic or want a one-on-one review with HSC staff, please contact us!

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