The province is investing $650,000 in a new program designed to help low-income Nova Scotians take control of their energy costs. “This program will help homeowners permanently save up to 30 per cent on their energy costs,” said Bill Dooks, Minister responsible for Conserve Nova Scotia. “Through the program, we can evaluate and determine the best way to help people with low incomes achieve a more energy efficient house.” Conserve Nova Scotia is piloting two different approaches to help 105 low income households through its Residential Energy Affordability Program. In western, eastern and northern regions of the province, Conserve Nova Scotia will work with the Department of Community Services to identify 25 homes in each zone through their low income home repair programs. In Halifax Regional Municipality, 30 homes will be selected based on referrals from Conserve Nova Scotia’s EnerInfo phone line and the central region office of Community Services. “This is an excellent opportunity to tie energy efficiency into homes that are already getting work done,” said Heather Foley Melvin, chief executive officer of Conserve Nova Scotia. “Our program will also allow us to measure both the energy and environmental savings while making a difference in the lives of Nova Scotians.” All participating homes must meet program criteria. Participation is limited to homes built before 1985 with a dry basement. Participants must also pass an income test through Community Services. The central region program will be administered by Clean Nova Scotia. In the central region pilot, homeowners must also agree to provide 30 hours of upgrade work by helping the contractor with energy efficiency improvements. The 30-hour contribution can be made by the homeowner, a family member, or a friend. The time commitment can also be shared with more than one person. Clean Nova Scotia’s executive director, Judy McMullen, said the time put in by the homeowner will give participants the skills to help improve the energy performance of their home and share that information with their neighbours. “Organizations like Habitat for Humanity have long recognized th value of involving the homeowner in the work on the home,” said Ms. McMullen. “That sense of pride and involvement is key to developing and growing communities.” Each participating home will be assigned an energy rating through the Nova Scotia EnerGuide for Houses program to determine where the home is losing energy. The evaluator will provide suggestions to help the homeowner and the contractor improve the energy performance of the home. An on-site contractor will then work with the homeowner to make the changes, including installing insulation, sealing drafts, and applying weatherstripping and caulking. Information on the program is available on the Conserve Nova Scotia website at www.conservens.ca or by calling 1-800-670-4636. The retrofits are expected to be completed by April.