Retrofit Energy Savings Programs for Business and Institutions in Ontario

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While many businesses would like to participate in energy-saving programs to become eco-friendlier, the truth is that not all of them can afford it. Commercial energy audits are an example of just one of the many strategies businesses can use to help reduce their overall energy consumption. However, business energy audits and other eco-friendly solutions can require a significant investment, which not all businesses are prepared for.

Fortunately, the Government of Ontario has a variety of energy incentives to help businesses offset the costs and effectively participate in making the province greener. To learn more about the retrofit incentive program that you may be eligible for and how it can help you become a greener business, keep reading.

What Is an Energy Retrofit?

Energy retrofits are upgrades that can be made to systems that consume energy to make them more energy-efficient. Some of them can be simple, superficial, low-cost modifications, while others can involve entire overhauls or replacements of major operational systems. Investing in retrofits can lower your energy costs, create a healthier and more productive environment for employees, and significantly reduce the impact of your environmental footprint.

If you think energy retrofits may be a good option for your business in your journey to becoming eco-friendlier, then you should know there are three categories of retrofits: minor energy retrofits, major energy retrofits, and deep energy retrofits.

Minor retrofits refer to inexpensive measures that can make a noticeable difference to your building’s energy consumption, like caulking windows and upgrading lighting systems. Major retrofits are generally more widespread and involve modifications across more than one building system. These projects can save up to 40% on energy costs and include measures like swapping in new windows and doors and replacing heating and cooling systems with new and improved, more efficient technology.

Deep energy retrofits involve overhauling major building systems, and replacing them with more updated, efficient technologies. Since these retrofits can be pretty disruptive in nature when they’re being changed and exceedingly expensive, they’re usually initiated when a piece of equipment or system dies or there’s a significant chance occupancy, so higher requirements need to be met. Examples of deep retrofits include adding insulation as an update to the exterior of your building, upgrading windows, and installing a heating system like a condensing boiler.

What Is the Retrofit Incentive Program?

The Retrofit Program offered by Hydro One “is for owners and managers of commercial buildings, institutional buildings, industrial facilities, agribusinesses and multi-residential buildings,” as stated on their web site. The goal is to provide eligible companies with incentives to help them replace older, inefficient equipment with better functioning supplies.

The amount on incentives that businesses are entitled to is dependant on the difference between how much electricity their old equipment used, versus how much their new installations use. While retrofitting existing equipment will prove itself to be a good investment which owners will see a return on in time, these incentives can help them see that return much faster.

Benefits of the Retrofit Incentive Program?

The Retrofit incentive program is intended to help businesses and corporations with the sometimes-costly renovations that it takes to improve their energy efficiency. While retrofitting will help you save on energy and maintenance costs and you’ll see a return on your investment in a matter of months, the incentive program can help you reap those rewards even faster. In fact, it can return up to 50% of the costs you incurred upgrading and replacing your old equipment. This savings, combined with the reduced energy and maintenance bills to follow, will give you a return on your investment many times over.

Two Incentive Tracks

With this program, you can take two different routes to take advantage of the available incentives: the prescriptive track or the custom track. With the prescriptive track, you’ll need to select your project from a set list of measures and allocated incentive. For each upgrade, the incentive will be dependant on the type, efficiency, and quantity of equipment installed. Qualifying measures include lighting, exterior lighting, unitary air conditioning, variable frequency drives, and more.

For projects that aren’t covered under the prescriptive track, there are incentives that can be offered based on proof of energy savings. For example, lighting project incentives can include $400.00/kilowatt (kW) of demand savings or $0.05/kilowatt hour (kWh) of first-year electricity savings, whichever is greater. Similarly, non-lighting project incentives will provide either $800.00/kW of demand savings or $0.10/kWh of first-year electricity savings. Qualifying measures for the custom track include lighting controls, compressed air, combined lighting, unitary AC, VSD pumps and fans, and other custom projects.

Eligibility Measure and Eligible Business

If you’re interested in taking advantage of the retrofit incentive program, you’ll first need to make sure that your project is eligible. According to the Hydro One web site, qualifying retrofits include, but are not limited to:

  • Lighting upgrades to LED and T8s
  • Controls for occupancy, CO monitoring, ventilation
  • Air conditioning units from three tons to 63 tons or greater
  • Variable frequency drives for fans, pumps, HVAC
  • Refrigeration, both retail and industrial
  • Monitoring and targeting information systems
  • Compressed air system upgrades or replacements
  • Chiller plant upgrades or replacements
  • Building envelope improvements

While the government offers a wide array of rebates and incentives for eco-friendly businesses, sometimes it can be difficult to secure these funds. Collecting the proper documentation and finding your way through all the bureaucracy is a job of its own, but luckily, you don’t have to do it alone. PL Energy Services can help your business take advantage of all the rebates you’re eligible for, freeing up assets that you can reallocate to help grow your company. Our team of specialists can complete all necessary engineering documentation and studies to maximize your incentive return. Contact us today to learn more.