This spring our attic has been insulated.  We’re also getting new exterior doors for the front and side of our house.  A new furnace and air conditioner, too.

We started making our house more energy efficient in October before the economy really went sour.  We don’t actually have the cash for all of these expenditures, and will dip into our line of credit which has a ridiculously low interest rate, because the ecoENERGY program and home reno tax credit makes it impossible right now not to invest in improving your home.

In 2007 the federal government of Canada launched an ecoENERGY Home Retrofit program to provide homeowners with up to $5,000 to offset the cost of making energy efficiency improvements.  Then the Ontario Retrofit Rebate Program was introduced which matches dollar for dollar up to another $5,000 of the ecoENERGY rebates.  Now you can get back a potential $10,000 on improvements.  The Ontario Power Authority and Enbridge Gas Distribution have also thrown some of their own energy efficiency rebates into the mix.  To top all this off, one of the incentives announced in the 2009 budget was a tax credit of 15% (up to a maximum of $1,350 on home renovations between $1,000 and $10,000) to get Canadians to spend this fiscal year.  Also on April 1, the grant rates on the above mentioned ecoENERGY program increased 25% for a limited time.

These deals have put me into buying mode, and this is where the priorities of our partnership have clashed. The improvements I want to make aren’t flashy.  They are things you can’t actually see.  But they are things that will impact the resale value of our house and make it much more comfortable to live in for the time being.

Increasing the insulation in our attic from an R-8 to and R-50 was a mutually agreed upon decision.   Our furnace is 20 years old and about to expire.  But I want, no I need, air conditioning.

To get my wife’s buy-in, I deployed our children to impress upon her the joys of air conditioning.  When that didn’t work, I bartered.  I agreed to let her get two entrance doors if I could get a furnace and air conditioner.

I’m not saying that curb appeal isn’t important.  It does increase home resale value.  While we’re going to get a nice red front door, I think curb appeal is much more than just a door.

The doors, in my opinion, aren’t a necessity.  Having lived in Ottawa for the past three summers without air conditioning, I can’t do it again.

Just like heating in the north is necessary to stay alive and keep your pipes from bursting, so is air conditioning in this particular city.  It’s not the heat here.  It’s the humidity.  The newest air conditioning systems even have a fancy thermostat where it can actually control the humidity in the house to make it a “nice cool” as opposed to a “damp cool.”

This is the first time we’ve ever used an exchange model for making any household purchases, never mind ones that are attached to such huge price tags.  Under any other circumstance, I would have balked and tried every tactic to make what I thought was most pressing to be the winning purchase decision.  We would have had to make a choice.  It would have been an either/or situation.

We’re able to move forward with all of this and provide our own contribution to economic stimulus because the programs are offering incentives that can’t be beat.  In the end, we’ll get between 45 – 50% of the cost of these home improvements back because of these programs and the various rebates.  That’s thousands of dollars we’re saving.  And because we’re able to access this program, we’re both getting something we want.

Photo credit: stock.xchng.