(NC)-If you aren't in the middle of a home renovation right now, you might be making plans to get started.
A recent survey by the Canadian Home Builders' Association found that Ontario's renovators have been busy over the past year and expect to be even busier over the next one.
It makes sense. Spurred by a desire to cut their commutes and shrink their carbon footprint, Ontarians are returning to urban centres across the province, many to older homes that need some TLC.
And they are investing some serious money in sprucing up. Renovation spending in Ontario, which jumped 5.8 per cent in 2007, has been growing at an average annual rate of 8.9 per cent a year since 1998.
Planning a renovation is also the perfect time to think about increasing your home's energy efficiency.
Upgrading your lighting, windows, insulation, water and space heating systems can save you hundreds of dollars a year. It's good for the environment too, because the less energy your home uses, the fewer greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere.
The Ontario Home Energy Savings Program can help, by showing you how best to cut your electricity bill, and offsetting the cost of many eligible energy efficient retrofits. You could be eligible for rebates totalling as much as $10,000.
Simply hire a licensed home energy advisor who will find your home's energy leaks and show what you can do to plug them, such as adding insulation or caulking around your windows and doors. (Your advisor will also apply on your behalf for an audit rebate of up to $150.)
You will also receive a plan that will show you how reduce your energy bills, such as upgrading to a more efficient furnace.
After your audit, you have 18 months to make some or all of the suggested improvements and qualify for government rebates. After completing the work, book a post-retrofit audit to verify the work was completed.
After your second audit, the governments of Ontario and Canada will each rebate up to $5,000 for your upgrades. The more upgrades you make, the more money you'll get back, up to a total of $10,000.
For more information, visit www.ontario.ca/homeenergy - or call the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure info-line at 1-888-668-4636.