News / Halifax

NDP unveils home-heating strategy

The NDP unveiled their home heating plan yesterday, but Conserve Nova Scotia said it's definitely not new.

Opposition Leader Darrell Dexter held a press conference yesterday in Molly Austen's Halifax backyard. The 84-year-old senior is facing a $565 a month heating bill and she's wondering how she'll be able to afford it.

"It just means there's less money for other things. Even though we don't live luxuriously," she laughed. "The money will have to be found somewhere."

Dexter said he wants to offer interest-free or low-interest loans to homeowners so they can put in insulation or other energy-saving renovations.

With oil prices reaching new heights all the time, Dexter said the government has no time to waste.

"We're talking about increases in cost that are so significant that we're hearing - even now on what is literally one of the hottest days of the summer so far - about people who are concerned about what's going to happen when they turn the furnace back on in September."

It's an $8 million to $9 million multi-year program, he said. In theory, low-income homeowners will be able to pay back interest-free loans from the savings in their energy bills.

Dexter said he also wants to cut home audit fees to $50.

Karen White, a spokeswoman for Conserve Nova Scotia, said they're already doing everything laid out in the NDP plan.

"We're working with a provincewide financial institution on a low-interest loan program," she said, although she wouldn't name the financial institution.

It hasn't been announced yet, but the loan program will be launched in the next couple of months, she added.

As for the audits, the government subsidizes two-thirds of the cost to make it $150 for the homeowner, and pays for the total amount for low-income families.

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