Heat Pump Chronicles Vol. 7

This is the seventh in a series of posts on our journey to navigate government grants and loans available for home energy retrofits and to replace our natural gas furnace with a cold-climate heat pump. Click here to see all articles in the series .

“The cheque is in the mail”. That’s what Kirby, Enbridge’s Customer Service agent might as well have said to me. I was speaking with him on February 6th, 2024, four months after we installed our Mitsubishi Zuba cold-climate heat pump.

In the winter of 2023 we successfully received the Greener Homes loan. Not an easy process. A few days after our second energy audit was complete, I tried to follow their process.

Step 2 was to complete a post-retrofit evaluation and request funds by uploading eligible retrofit invoices into the Loan Portal. The expectation set in that message was that, as long as the post-retrofit evaluation was performed in a timely manner after the retrofit installation, then the disbursement of funds would be approximately 10 days.

I completed the energy retrofits October 10th and received the post-retrofit audit report on October 27th. I logged into the loan portal and could see no place to upload documents. I called the service line. The representative said it could take up to 30 days for the audit report to be filed and for the portal to be opened to allow me to upload documents. It’s now been 30 days and no change to the portal! I sent an email to the Brad in the loan department explaining my problem. He got back to me right away with disturbing news. “The loan won’t be setup until you request funding, and you won’t be able to request funding until we receive the post-retrofit report from your Energy Advisor”, said Brad. “I can confirm at this time we have not yet received the report. The Energy Advisor has to submit the report to trigger the next step in the process. Yes, the Energy Advisor has 30 days to submit the report to us but we have no control of their timeframe as some Energy Advisors take a long time to send the report for some reason”, he continued.

I immediately phoned my energy advisor and followed up with an email, basically asking politely, “What gives?”. “As I have conveyed you over the phone, that an info field error in our software triggered lower rebates. Its been resolved now, login to your CMHC system tomorrow and it will be show the updated record”, was his response.

Sure enough, the following day I was able to upload the required documents. All in all, that process took about 60 days from the time that the final energy audit was complete. It meant we had to carry $23,000 for more than 2 months which put a significant, albeit temporary hole in our savings account. With the loan complete we were able to pay off the credit card and our bank balance was back in the black. We were fortunate. Not everyone can manage that kind of cash outlay, even for a short period.

But I was still losing considerable sleep as I had heard nothing from Enbridge about the grant. In previous posts I’ve described the process we went through in applying for the Greener Homes grant then getting our application transferred to Enbridge’s HER Plus program. Given the cost of the energy audit and the model of our heat pump, I was expecting to receive a sizable grant amount although neither our contractor nor our energy auditor could tell me exactly how much.

After the second energy audit was complete in late October 2023, I expected to receive some acknowledgement from Enbridge with an update on the grant status. Crickets! By mid-December when I had still heard nothing, I contacted our energy auditor to see what experience they had with the timing of the grant payments for other clients. I was told to, “have patience”.

Christmas and New Year was a busy time. My anxiety about whether or not we’d ever see the grant was diminished by celebrations with family and friends. Then I heard rumours that the Federal government was suspending the Greener Homes grant program at the beginning of 2024. Yikes!

In early February I checked the Enbridge site looking for reassurance. By the time I looked, however, there was no reference on the site to the grant program, In desperation I phoned their standard billing line. Surprise!. There was a menu option for enquiries about the HER Plus program, 1-877-362-7434, 1, 3, 5, 1.

Rebecca answered. I gave her my information and, after a few minutes, hooray, she found my record! My relief, however, was short-lived. She said that our energy auditor had not properly set the “final submission status” and that no payment could be processed until that was corrected. Oh my, NOT AGAIN! I hung up and called my energy auditor. Fortunately he answered right away. He said he had already pushed the right button but, after gentle prodding from me, went through the process again while I was still on the phone. “Done”, he said. “This time for sure”, he said.

“Right”, I thought to myself. I hung up and immediately called Enbridge back. This time spoke with Kirby who verified that indeed the final submission process was now complete. “Your cheque will be issued, within 22 weeks”, said Kirby. Twenty-two weeks! To process a cheque! How much interest was Enbridge making on that money in the meantime?

Anyway, they did better than expected. The cheque was in the mail and it took them only 11 weeks to process it. Seventy-one hundred dollars. I felt like I’d won the lottery! But I’d worked pretty hard for it.

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