There's a story that just developed yesterday that the media hasn't noticed yet. I hope The Coast or someone picks up on this and writes a story about it to bring attention to it.
It's about new Nova Scotia Energuide Zero-Interest loan who's intent according to the initial media release was to provide "interest-free loans for people who are making energy-efficiency improvements through the EnerGuide for Houses Program" up to $5000. Sounds like a really cool idea right? Help people help themselves.
Yesterday, they made the application for the loan available on-line at www.heatsmart.ca and I was sadly disappointed.
Basically, submit your application, wait 8 weeks and then they will tell you whether or not you were approved. Then, you need to get the funds to do the work on your own means. If you don't happen to have $5000 sitting around do replace your drafty windows, no problem, they'll give an advance to some people of $1500 if you're poor or kinda poor. They suggest that you can use the letter of approval from the program to "arrange for short-term financing" to cover the costs until you get your zero-interest loan. The third step is to schedule an appointment with your Energuide auditor to prove that the work was done. Once that is done, you wait 8 more weeks so that they can give you loan money that is the difference of what rebates you qualify for and the cost of the repairs. Which means that you have to wait for part of the money to come from the separate Federal and Provincial Energuide programs for their rebates.
So if I started today, I'll know whether or not my credit is good enough to qualify for their program by Christmas. (Excuse me while I put on a sweater). Then I will arrange financing with my bank. I will give them the letter that proves that I am wasting their time because they'll only get a few months interest out of me and will likely push me to the bottom-feeder lenders who will charge me ridiculous rates of interest for the 2 months after my work is done and I wait for SOME of the money I need to do the work and then wait longer to get the rest of my funds.
Wait a minute. I'll know by Christmas, the contractor will take a month to order my windows (crap, where are my gloves and parka) and install them so by mid-February I should have the proof from the auditor which means by April of next year, I should have my loan money.
The hilarious part is that I make $1000 over the limit to qualify for any heating rebate...an extra $20/week too much. But I'm too poor to have $5000 kicking around to replace my old windows so I have to get a loan...to get a loan in the spring.
I refer you to the media release from the Premier's Office from September 10, 2008 : "This is about helping people deal with rapidly rising oil prices in the short term," the premier said. "But just as importantly, it provides a way for people to improve energy efficiency in their homes, and save money in the long term."
With all due respect, your heart's in the right place but it's still gonna be a long, cold, expensive winter and your Heatsmart program didn't help me whatsoever. I'm gonna sit here in my livingroom eating KD as I watch my meager RRSP's shrivel to nothing and pay my oil bills.
Thanks for the help Rodney.
PS...wouldn't it have been easier to just write the cheques out directly to the contractors? I can wait to see how many people actually use this program...and how many people you deny because most people are too poor to qualify for the loan and too rich to qualify for the heating rebates.
By Coldly Disappointed with Heatsmart