The residential sector of Newmarket contains 29,000 households and is home to over 84,000 residents. The residential sector alone consumes approximately 4.3 million gigajoules (GJ) of energy annually contributing to over 126,000 tonnes of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Newmarket residents spend a combined total of $74 million a year on water, electricity, and gas.
Depending on the house's characteristics (i.e. age, size and building envelope) residents could be paying far more for energy than required. Through the NEER project, the CEP aims to reduce this cost by 30% to 50%.
The Newmarket Energy Efficiency Retrofit (NEER) initiative is a municipal project that is designed specifically for Newmarket residents to retrofit their homes and save on energy all while lowering the community's total greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. The NEER initiative is seeking to implement Newmarket's Community Energy Plan (CEP) by creating an organization that will deliver high-quality residential energy efficiency retrofit solutions using local contractors and public/private financing mechanisms.
The NEER initiative focuses on providing reliable and efficient energy solutions through smart technology and sustainable retrofitting practices. In return, these benefits will push the Town closer to its GHG and energy goals outlined in the CEP.
Once operational, homeowners will be able to speak with an advisor who will offer retrofit packages that will include a wide variety of high energy efficiency services. These services will be handled, completed and quality-checked by trained professionals quickly and with little to no disruptions to consumers' daily lives. The package cost would be priced at a fixed cost per square footage of the home (e.g: $/m2) based on home size, age & type. The package will include most if not more of the following retrofits:
- Weatherization of building envelope
- Attic insulation upgrades
- HVAC upgrades of furnaces, boilers & A/C
- Low-flow faucets, showers & toilets
- Domestic hot water upgrades
- Window upgrades
- LED lighting upgrades
- Comfort control
Although the retrofit package currently only assumes the installation of these standardized retrofits, the NEER initiative could include additional energy-related add-ons. Initially, these will include solar power, solar thermal, and electric vehicle charging stations. Future options could include air/ground source heat pumps, energy management services and more.
To better support residents, the NEER initiative will provide homeowners with the option to finance the cost of the retrofit through Local Improvement Charges (LICs). LICs are a fixed annual charge applied to a property that amortizes the cost of projects over an agreed period of time. Historically, LICs were used to finance projects such as water/waste infrastructure, street light repairs, roadwork, etc. However, in 2012, the provincial government amended its regulation to allow property owners to leverage LICs for financing energy-efficiency projects (O.Reg.586/06 – Lien Status). The benefits of LICs are that:
1. Homeowners pay little to no upfront costs.
2. Homeowners have access to low-interest rates that are typically only available to municipalities, and;
3. The LIC charge remains with the property and will not follow homeowners if they move.
The NEER project will strive to retrofit 80% of the homes in Newmarket. In return, the community will:
1. Increase residential efficiency by 35%
2. Lower carbon emissions by 60%
3. Increase water efficiency by 20%
In April 2018, Newmarket staff set out to study the feasibility of establishing the NEER initiative. In September 2019, the Town completed and presented their findings in the form of a Business Case to Council. In June 2020, Council approved the NEER Business Case Final Report with direction to complete a detailed Business Plan.
Starting December 19, 2022, the Town of Newmarket will be randomly surveying residents by telephone to learn more about their home energy efficient needs as part of the development of the NEER Business Plan.
Residents who don't get the call to participate in the phone survey are encouraged to complete the online survey which is set to launch in early 2023. Keep an eye out in the mail for a postcard to access the online survey. All participants who provide their feedback via the telephone survey or the online survey will be entered in a draw for a chance to win one of five smart thermostats!
Learn more about the engagement process at heynewmarket.ca/neer