On Wednesday, Ontario announced a major initiative that will offer thousands of dollars in rebates to homeowners who perform energy-efficient upgrades —  including window replacements —  and the big news caught many in the Canadian fenestration business by surprise.

“The announcement of this program hit media before the industry was notified,” Laura Weil, the sales and marketing manager with Euro Vinyl Windows in Toronto, tweeted on Thursday. “This means that it’s all about the hustle and drive. I’M ALL OVER IT.”

The rebates from the Green Ontario Fund (GreenON) offer $500 per window up to $5,000 when homeowners upgrade to select high-performance windows rated Energy Star Most Efficient with a U-value of 1.4 or lower. The rebate applies for each rough opening, which means that fenestration products with more than one glass unit, such as bay or bow windows, only qualify for one rebate.

The program, which also covers insulation and other upgrades, could help thousands of homeowners in Ontario and give a major boost to the home-improvement industry there. According to the 2016 Canadian census, 317,840 homes in Ontario need major repairs and 1,290,830 could use minor repairs. That’s about a third of the 5,169,175 housing units in the province.

It could also give a major boost to a Canadian certification program for replacement window manufacturers and installation contractors.

To participate in the Ontario rebate program, all participating contractors must prove they have an up-to-date Window Wise certification. Window Wise is a program run by the Siding and Window Dealers Association of Canada (SAWDAC) that audits and certifies contractors and window manufacturers to ensure they’re meeting high standards. It also conducts in-depth window installation training for installers.

A search of the SAWDAC website shows that there are currently 39 certified Window Wise installers in Ontario, but one Canadian industry veteran says that number could be rising soon.

“There is a gold-rush style stampede to join the (Window Wise) program,” said Phil Lewin, the vice president of marketing with Ontario-based Vinyl Window Designs. Lewin’s company, along with Euro Vinyl Windows, is among 18 Window Wise-approved manufacturers in Canada. Those firms received the certification because their products exceed building code standards for energy efficiency, air infiltration, water leakage and strength.

The Green Ontario Fund is a provincial agency that seeks to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in buildings. It receives its money from Ontario’s cap-and-trade carbon market, which has raised more than $1.9 billion, according to a report from the CBC. The government plans to spend $600 million over four years on the rebate program.

GreenON is part of the province’s Climate Change Action Plan. Its goal is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 15 percent below 1990 levels by 2020 and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

“Now, through GreenON rebates, we are empowering consumers to help fight climate change by reducing energy usage at home,” said  Parminder Sandhu, chair of the Green Ontario Fund board of directors. “GreenON Rebates enables Ontario homeowners and tenants to access rebates on home renovations that will save them money and reduce their carbon footprint.”

1 Comment

  1. One could assume there is a typo with the U-Factor of 1.4 that is referred to in the article.
    Obviously, they are talking about triple pane windows. I’m thinking that every reputable window installer will be working overtime.
    Wonder how many company owners know how to reap the benefits of this program.
    The days of skilled closers have almost disappeared.

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