Free support for home energy upgrades is coming to Whistler and Squamish

The innovative Retrofit Assist service will assist homeowners transition to electric home heating 

Updating your home to be more energy-efficient just got easier in Squamish and Whistler. This week the communities launched Retrofit Assist, a free service to guide homeowners through the seemingly daunting transition to an electric home heating system, such as a heat pump. 

“The Resort Municipality of Whistler is pleased to partner with the Community Energy Association and the District of Squamish on the Retrofit Assist service to help homeowners make their homes more efficient in our communities,” says Resort Municipality of Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton. “Making existing buildings more efficient is one of Whistler’s Climate Action Big Moves. Our goal is to reduce emissions from existing residential buildings by 20 percent by 2030.”  

The first phase of the program will focus on home heating and cooling as it is one of the most impactful ways to address pollution from buildings. Beyond meeting local climate goals, heat pumps offer homeowners other benefits. Heat pumps act like air conditioners in the hot summer months. They are the most energy-efficient heating and cooling system currently available, and have filtration to ensure healthy indoor air.  

“The District of Squamish is proud to participate alongside the Resort Municipality of Whistler and Community Energy Association to assist and support homeowners in the Retrofit Assist Program. Most people want to do their part to lower their carbon footprint, but it can be a challenging process. We want to make it as easy as possible for homeowners to make the switch to low-emission energy systems,” says District of Squamish Mayor Karen Elliott. “We have made big commitments to bold climate action by 2030 and home retrofits are a big part of our Community Climate Action Plan. We hope to see this pilot program find a permanent place in our community and grow over time to include more measures to help lower individual carbon-footprints.” 

Heat pumps are an efficient way to heat a building with renewable energy while also offering air conditioning in the summer. Modern, well-installed heat pumps can save homeowners money on their heating bills. Whistler and Squamish are launching this program as part of a commitment to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and eliminate inefficient, carbon-intensive heating in the communities.  

The innovative program is a first-of-its-kind in British Columbia. It is a meaningful way the municipalities can support residents to make their homes healthier, more energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. The Retrofit Assist service has been specifically designed to make it easy for homeowners to replace their oil and gas home furnace with an electric heat pump. The Retrofit Assist service will guide homeowners in making a plan, connecting to an Energy Advisor and contractors while explaining the details of financing, rebates and incentives.  

Retrofit Assist was a joint venture that started in 2020 in collaboration with the District of Squamish and the Resort Municipality of Whistler. The program was made possible with funding from the Real Estate Foundation of BC, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and BC Hydro and is facilitated by the Community Energy Association.  

Fast Facts: 

  • Heat pumps are systems that move heat from one location to another rather than creating heat like natural gas furnaces. 
  • Because they move heat rather than create it, heat pumps are up to 300% more efficient than traditional heating systems (boilers, baseboards, radiators, etc.). 
  • Heat pump technology isn’t new; a refrigerator is an insulated box with a type of heat pump in it. Heat is removed from inside the fridge and the temperature drops and this extracted heat is dissipated into the air by metal coils at the back. 
  • The Retrofit Assist program acts as a ‘concierge’ for home energy upgrades. It is a one-year pilot program ultimately aimed at reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in existing buildings. 

Homeowners and HVAC contractors are encouraged to visit retrofitassist.ca to learn how the program can support them and see if they are eligible to participate.  

About the District of Squamish 

Inspired by nature and hardwired for adventure, the District of Squamish is the local municipal government servicing a growing and diverse community with a population of 24,000+, inclusive of members of the Sḵwx̱wú7mesh Úxwumixw (Squamish Nation) upon whose traditional unceded territory we live, work and play. Nestled between ocean and mountains, the vibrant and entrepreneurial town-feel, lush natural environment, and unmatched outdoor recreation make for a one-of-a-kind lifestyle and business destination. Guided by the Squamish 2040 Official Community Plan, Council and staff work to effect meaningful change on the most important community issues of our time under five main goals: Resilient, Healthy, Connected, Liveable and Engaged.  

About the Resort Municipality of Whistler   

Situated within the shared, unceded territory of the L̓il̓wat7úl (Lil’wat People) and Sḵwx̱wú7mesh (Squamish People), the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) is a destination resort community, local government organization and leader in providing municipal programs, services, progressive planning and infrastructure for almost 14,000 permanent residents and over three million annual visitors. Whistler is located approximately two hours north of Vancouver along the picturesque Sea-to-Sky Highway and within the epic Coast Mountain range.      

Our vision: A place where our community thrives, nature is protected and guests are inspired.   

May 6, 2022

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