When it comes to energy giants, no matter where you are in North America and no matter whom your energy provider is, chances are they are trying to sell you on living “greener.”

Across Canada, various provincial energy distributors have individual plans to help their clients live more efficiently, with options ranging from cold water laundry detergent rebates, to a bevy of Energy Star appliance purchase programs, to personalised diagnostics to save energy in the home. The question is, which province is getting the best deal and whose energy provider employs the most heavy-handed approach when it comes helping their clients develop environmentally efficient practices?
Across Canada, individual energy needs tend to vary as much as the type of energy consumed – oil, gas and electricity either derived from hydro turbines or nuclear energy, and traditional resources such as wood. In Ontario, for example, most homes are heated with natural gas. The vast majority of homes in Quebec are heated with electricity, which is cheaper here than in any other province due to the vast hydraulic resources of the north.

Though Hydro-Quebec’s gamut of consumption-reducing program incentives fare better than many, the utility does not offer any programs that are not already available in other provinces. For that matter, there are a handful of provinces that offer some really innovative programs that Hydro may want to consider.

Saskatchewan, through its Saskatchewan Ener

Guide for Houses Retrofit program, offers incentives for homeowners to purchase solar hot-water systems, tank-less (instantaneous) water heaters, condensing water heaters, and drain water heat recovery (DWHR) systems. Saskatchewan is also the only province to offer prime rate loans on the purchases of government-approved, “Energy Star” energy efficient appliances.

Meanwhile, clients of the Ontario Power Authority are offered a variety of rebates ranging from $50 to $800 to replace home furnaces and existing central air conditioner systems.

Newfoundland, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia, Manitoba and a few energy distributors in Ontario all offered coupons attached to their monthly bills for a rebate on Tide Coldwater detergent for a three-month period to promote cold water laundry washing.

The Nation asked Hydro-Quebec representative Helen Laurin to explain the programs, incentives and advice that are available to help Quebecers save on electricity in their homes.

“The first interesting tool that Hydro Quebec offers to their clients is the home diagnostic energy-wise,” Laurin said. Designed to create a detailed portrait of how your home consumes energy, what appliances consume the most and where energy savings can be made, this online interactive diagnostic tool is a great starting point for energy savings. Anyone who already has an account with Hydro can register online to fill out the questionnaire and the results will show clients in both dollars and kilowatt hours what kinds of savings they could expect should they follow the personalized recommendations. http://www.hydro-quebec.com/residential/description_diagnostic.html

Hydro is also offering rebates on energy efficient lighting in the home. “Most people do not realize that lighting counts for 10 per cent of the household’s total energy consumption,” Laurin noted.

“There are two rebates offered right now, including a mail-in rebate on the purchase of Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs, so people can get up to 25 per cent off. All of the conditions of this are on the Hydro Quebec website and people can go there and print the mail-in rebate and bring it to any participating store. They get a $5 rebate on every $10 spent, before taxes, on Energy Star qualified compact fluorescent light bulbs.” The second lighting-related rebate is on CFL floor lamps, which use a quarter of the electricity than do incandescent or halogen models. “Hydro Quebec offers a $15 mail-in rebate on the purchase of any of these brands of ‘torchière’ LED lights.”

As in other provinces, Hydro also offers a rebate worth up to $130 to replace old thermostats with new electronic ones. The offer varies depending on how many individual thermostats participants change and what kind of home they own.

“By replacing conventional thermostats with electronic thermostats, people can maintain a stable and even temperature in their homes, and save up to 10 per cent on their heating costs.” HQ also offers rebates on Energy Star refrigerators and clothes washers. The program offers a $50 rebate on selected fridges and $100 on approved washing machines.

Hydro-Quebec is also offering special grants through the Agence de l’efficacité énergétique du Quebec and the federal Ministry of Natural Resources for those who are looking to renovate their homes or build new homes. The Novoclimat and Rénoclimat programs can potentially offer thousands in grant dollars for energy-saving renovations and incorporating energy efficient measures into a new home. More information on both of these programs can be found on Hydro’s website. http://www.hydroquebec.com/energywise/index.html