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Reep House for sustainable solutions - YouTube

Watch Executive Director Mary Jane Patterson tour the Reep House and explain all it’s incredibly practical green home features for the Climate Atlas of Canada mapping project.

The Reep House is a 100-year old house in Waterloo, Ontario that has been retrofitted to be maximally energy efficient. This demonstration project shows how older housing stock can be an effective part of the climate change solution through a combination of cutting edge technology and simple upgrades.

The Climate Atlas of Canada
The Climate Atlas  is an interactive tool for citizens, researchers, businesses, and community and political leaders to learn about climate change in Canada. It combines climate science, mapping, videography, and storytelling to bring the global issue of climate change closer to home, and is designed to inspire local, regional, and national action and solutions.

The post VIDEO | The Reep House for Sustainable Living tour with Mary Jane Patterson | Climate Atlas of Canada appeared first on Reep Green Solutions.

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If you’re interested in being involved in real change happening in our region to take action on climate change, read on. ClimateActionWR (co-led by Reep Green Solutions and Sustainable Waterloo Region) will be presenting a long-term greenhouse gas emissions reduction target to the councils of the three cities and the Region of Waterloo in the coming weeks. We are proposing a target of 80% below our 2010 levels of greenhouse gas emissions, to be reached by 2050. Within the next several weeks we hope that the four councils will approve the target

We encourage you to reach out to your city council and/or regional council to share your views on the long-term target. This could be in the form of a delegation (5 minute speech) or an email.

In a short email or delegation you may speak as citizens, professionals, or parents explaining why addressing climate change and investing in the green economy is a priority for you, your business or your family’s future.

The long-term target will be considered on the following dates:

• City of Kitchener – April 9 – Afternoon (exact time TBD)
• City of Waterloo – April 23 – Time TBD
• City of Cambridge – May 1 – 7 to 9 pm
• Region of Waterloo – May 1 – 9 am to 1 pm (exact time TBD)

Below, I have included a list of email addresses for councilors, as well as information on how to register to give a delegation.

Points that you could address in an email or delegation speech include:

  • Strong scientific consensus confirms the global economy must eliminate carbon by the middle of the century and we need for our community to do our part in achieving that.
  • The necessity of being leaders on climate change to support the development of clean-tech business across Waterloo Region and to keep more of the money we spend on energy in our community.
  • Our community’s ongoing leadership and innovation on the environment and preparing for a sustainable future.
  • The additional benefits of reducing our GHG emissions such as cleaner air, mitigating severe weather, healthier and more liveable communities and diverse transportation options.

If you are able to provide a delegation, please register as soon as possible!

This is a historic moment for our community that you can be a part of. We want to give councillors as much support as possible in approving this target!

Yours sincerely,

Mary Jane Patterson, Executive Director

Councillors’ email addresses:
Region of Waterloo (all council members): <Regionalcouncillors@regionofwaterloo.ca>
City of Cambridge: <reidd@cambridge.ca>, <devinem@cambridge.ca>, <mannm@cambridge.ca>, <liggettj@cambridge.ca>, <wolfp@cambridge.ca>, <adshades@cambridge.ca>, <monteirof@cambridge.ca>, <ermetan@cambridge.ca>, <mayor@cambridge.ca>, <ClerksDivision@cambridge.ca>
City of Kitchener: <bvrbanovic@regionofwaterloo.ca>, <scott.davey@kitchener.ca>, <sarah.marsh@kitchener.ca>, <dave.schnider@kitchener.ca>, <john.gazzola@kitchener.ca>, <yovnne.fernandes@kitchener.ca>, <kelly.galloway-sealock@kitchener.ca>, <paul.singh@kitchener.ca>, <bil.ioannidis@kitchener.ca>, <zyg.janecki@kitchener.ca>, <frank.etherington@kitchener.ca>, <clerks@kitchener.ca>
City of Waterloo: <bob.mavin@waterloo.ca>, <brian.bourke@waterloo.ca>, <angela@angelavieth.ca>, <diane.freeman@waterloo.ca>, <mark.whaley@waterloo.ca>, <jeff.henry@waterloo.ca>, <melissa.durrell@waterloo.ca>, <mayor@waterloo.ca>, <clerkinfo@waterloo.ca>

Register to speak to council as a delegation:
Cambridge: https://forms.cambridge.ca/Delegation-Request-Form
Kitchener: https://www.kitchener.ca/en/city-services/appear-as-a-delegation.aspx
Waterloo: http://www.waterloo.ca/en/government/delegationregistration.asp
Region of Waterloo: https://www.regionofwaterloo.ca/en/regional-government/communicate-with-council.aspx

The post “What can YOU do about Climate Change? Use your voice,” Letter from Mary Jane Patterson, Executive Director of Reep appeared first on Reep Green Solutions.

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By Sarah Lukaszczyk

On a late spring Saturday morning, I made the walk from my home in Waterloo to the Mount Hope Neighborhood; I was planning to volunteer at a rain barrel fundraiser for a local charity. As I walked I began to notice subtle changes in the landscape. From diverse, grass-free lawns blooming with wildflowers to pollinator-friendly plants, it was easy to see the different ways residents in this neighborhood  were safeguarding the environment and bettering the overall community aesthetic. Peoples’ desire to improve their yards was not limited to their lawns – standard grass boulevards were commonly replaced with an eye-catching arrangement of colourful flowers and other succulents. 

I noticed these neighbourhood improvements following my opportunity earlier that week to interview Mount Hope resident Stephen Barath, who recently installed a rain garden. In our interview, Stephen made me acutely aware of the neighborhood’s heightened conservation ethic. However, it was not until I saw the gradual transition from grass lawns to little forests during my walk that I felt like I was entering a little utopia.

As part of Reep’s RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods project, and under the watchful eye of his wife and two young daughters,  Stephen installed a rain garden on one of his rental properties. Digging holes and choosing native plants was rewarding, Stephen explained, a sense that was increasingly evident to me over the course of our interview.  As a daughter of a professional landscaper myself, it was invigorating to see the enjoyment and pride Stephen had towards his garden. It warmed my heart further to hear that his two-year-old daughter even got her hands dirty to help her Dad dig holes. That evoked memories of time spent with my own Dad as a child. Stephen’s understanding of the importance (and fun, as he reminded me repeatedly) of these projects to safeguarding our water and beautifying the community left a lasting impression, as he has already decided to build another rain garden on a different property.

Not entirely convinced it was all fun and games, I challenged Stephen to tell me something unexpected he had experienced while building the rain garden. He explained that in jest neighbours would stop and say things like ‘Did the water main break?’ while only one neighbour was able to correctly identify what Stephen was actually up to. A little girl who was walking home with her grandmother after school even exclaimed, “Look Grandma that man is still digging holes.” After describing them, Stephen went on to say that these exchanges with his neighbours were always welcome so he had a reason to take a break from digging and chat about the wider benefits of rain gardens for the community.

For his tenants the rain garden removes almost all the grass on the property. There is no longer a need to mow and Stephen imagines this could be seen as an added benefit for the renter and the landlord. Although, based on my brief time in the community, initiatives such as these are not merely done for the sake of convenience but also for their environmental benefit.

Being that Father’s Day had recently past, Stephen’s father came for a visit and while in town the two made time to see the new rain garden. Stephen admitted to me that while the garden didn’t look like much at present, his father observed that, “Like the acorns they used to plant together when Stephen was young, the garden will begin to bloom in due time.” And just as Stephen’s father continued to point out the different trees the two had planted in his youth, I imagine Stephen would likewise do the same with his own daughters in the years to come. Thanks to the help of Reep’s RAIN Coach, the family had resources that helped them to identify which native species were best suited for the area and whether they should be placed in the shade or sun.

Overall, my greatest take away from meeting Stephen and his family is that while fun, you don’t start these projects – especially the do-it-yourself ones – simply for yourself. These spaces are created to be shared, whether that be with the little girl and her grandma who live in the neighborhood, the Environmental studies student casually strolling by one Saturday morning or the busy bees and butterflies attracted by your hard work. It’s all worth it for the joy your rain garden brings to all who see it.

Visit Reep Green Solutions’ RAIN Smart Neighbourhoods web page to learn mo re information build your own rain garden and incentives available residents of Mount Hope on a first come, first served basis.

The post Rain Gardens Benefit the Entire Community – Interview with Stephen Barath, Rental Property Owner appeared first on Reep Green Solutions.

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By: Andrew Jackson, Communications Volunteer

There are many options out there when it comes to heating and cooling your home. One viable, easy to install, and low energy consumption option is an air source heat pump (ASHP).

How ASHPs work and operate is pretty simple. They extract the heat from outside. They can do this down to -15 C, and distribute it inside the home. They are also able to do this in reverse allowing them to cool your home by extracting the warm air from inside the house and distributing it outside. Depending on the system being installed an ASHP can also provide water heating capabilities. You can also get a dedicated ASHP water heater like the one at the Reep House for Sustainable Living.

ASHP systems vary greatly in size and ability, and it is important to consider your home’s needs to ensure that you select one that operates properly and efficiently.

If you’re transitioning from an electric furnace to an ASHP, you can expect savings of up to 50%, depending on your local climate, what system you had previously, the fuel used in that system, and your local costs for fuel or electricity. Your habits also play a big role in the efficiency of your ASHP. Until December 31, 2017, a generous rebate is available to help you make this transition.

An ASHP works slower than a conventional furnace, often taking a few hours to heat a home when a conventional furnace may take half an hour. Remembering to close windows and doors, and having good insulation can greatly affect the efficiency of your ASHP system.

Traditionally, ASHPs have been considered inefficient in colder climates, like Waterloo Region. However, the technology has advanced considerably in the past few years, so many of the better models work great for most of the year. They experience setbacks only during a few of the coldest days in winter when temperatures drop below their operational level. As temperatures decrease an ASHP can become damaged due to a buildup of frost in the filters. For this reason it is important to have some form of alternative backup heating system.

Depending on the model, an ASHP will automatically shut down between -8 C and -22 C to reduce wear and tear. It is important to understand how often in your region the temperature will drop below your ASHP’s operational level to understand how often you will require an alternative heat source. Understanding your regional temperature range also greatly influences the type of ASHP you should purchase.

Incentives and rebates are available to help reduce cost of installation can be found through the Home Reno Rebate offered through a partnership of Union Gas, the government of Ontario, and Save On Energy. Depending on the ASHP system being installed rebates of up to $4000 are available to homeowners that heat with electricity.

Learn more about the rebates available through the Home Reno Rebate program.

The post Air Source Heat Pumps: What are they? Should you get one? appeared first on Reep Green Solutions.

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By Brendan Schaefer and Rebecca Garlick

The holidays are known to be a joyous time with family and friends. Decorations, meals, gifts, and traveling are all traditions associated with this time of year.

Reep Green Solutions encourages you to enjoy your holiday time with family and friends, but to continue to be conscious about the environmental impacts of your traditions.

Green your Christmas lights

Christmas lights are a beautiful piece of the holiday season; however, they can be quite the energy consumer. This Christmas, try using LED Christmas lights or perhaps solar powered LED lights. Turn off or unplug your lights during the daytime, or use a timer so that they turn off automatically. While outside lights may be a beautiful sight, we advise you to limit the size of your lighting display on your home to limit your energy consumption.

Green your travels

Traveling to friends and family for parties and holiday dinners often consumes a lot of gas. A way to reduce the impacts associated with long traveling times would be to think about alternative modes of transportation or car-pooling.

Flying is the most energy and carbon-intensive mode of transportation, taking the train or the bus is a much more efficient mode of transportation. Even driving is a much more efficient than flying, however not nearly as efficient as the train or bus.

Green your giving

Gift giving is a tradition for many families and friends over the holidays. This season, to help reduce energy consumption and waste production, buy fewer gifts, consider a home-made gift, like soaps or candles, or even give something edible. Perhaps donate in someone else’s name this year to a charity.

Green your baking and meals

Preparing big family meals, or baking those holiday treats leads to greater energy consumption. Here’s a way to ensure that you are conserving some energy this holiday. Try and bake things at the same time, so you do not need to preheat the oven multiple times. And using a convection oven or an induction stove top uses less energy than electric and gas ranges.

Green your clean up

After those big meals and parties, there will be plenty of dirty dishes. Use the dishwasher to wash all those dishes, as it saves both on water and energy. A dishwasher uses much less water than handwashing in the sink, and uses less energy for heating as you do not need as much hot water. The dishwasher should be used with full loads only though for the greatest efficiency.

Be sure all of your compostable leftovers go into your green bin. That includes paper plates and napkins if you use them.

And save your wrapping and decorations to be so they can be reused.

Think green!

Most importantly, think green this year and you’ll be sure to celebrate more sustainably.

Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays from all of us at Reep Green Solutions!!!

The post Greening your Christmas! appeared first on Reep Green Solutions.

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Adopting a storm drain makes our streets safer and prevents flooding

Kitchener – As the last of fall’s leaves are collected and before winter settles in, Reep Green Solutions is calling upon residents of Waterloo Region to show the lowly storm drain some love. Specifically, they are asking people to adopt a storm drain near where they live, work or go to school. When someone adopts a storm drain, they are making a commitment to keeping it clear of snow and ice in the winter, leaves in the fall and litter and debris year round. Making and keeping that commitment is important as it helps ensure rain and melting snow can enter the storm sewer system. People can claim the storm drain they are adopting at reepgreen.ca.

“Storm drains are easy to take for granted but they play a critical role in protecting people, homes and our water system,” said Patrick Gilbride, RAIN Program Manager at Reep Green Solutions. “They are underappreciated and deserve some care and attention from the people who benefit from them. Show a storm drain some love. Adopt one today!”

Adopting storm drains is important because when water cannot get into the sewers, it can cause flooding that can make it difficult to use the road and may affect nearby homes. Even a little bit of water can cause problems as it freezes into ice or makes leaves slippery. Both situations cause accidents that make our streets unsafe for people. A clear storm drain is also important in preventing pollution and salt from entering the storm water system that makes its way to local rivers and lakes.

“Anyone who lives or works in Waterloo Region can adopt a storm drain,” said Gilbride. “It shows that you care about having safe, dry streets, preventing flooding and preventing pollution from reaching our water system. Use our interactive map and commit to showing some love to a storm drain near where you live or work. Or perhaps adopt one as a part of a group?”

Reep Green Solutions is an environmental charity that helps people to live sustainably. Programs and services focus on residential energy efficiency, managing storm water, water conservation and waste reduction. It co-leads ClimateActionWR with Sustainable Waterloo Region. The Reep House for Sustainable Living is a model home with a variety of environmentally friendly features and often hosts workshops and presentations.

– 30 –

For more information, please contact

James Howe, Communications Manager, Reep Green Solutions

jhowe@reepgreen.ca

519-744-6583 ext. 222

The post NEWS Release: Waterloo Region residents asked to show storm drains some love appeared first on Reep Green Solutions.

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Here’s one of the stories that we share in our 2017 Report to the Community about how we help you live sustainably. On November 28, Reep Green Solutions is participating in Giving Tuesday.

When we asked the community if they thought of Reep Green Solutions as a charity, 58% said no. That is probably because a number of our services, such as home energy evaluations, operate as social enterprises. Like many charities, Reep Green Solutions looks for ways to fulfill our mission that also help cover costs. Charging a fee for some services helps us offer others at no cost, such as workshops at the Reep House for Sustainable Living.

Simply put, Reep Green Solutions is a registered environmental charity that helps people live sustainably.

We have a great appreciation for our supporters who recognize how their financial gifts enhance our capacity to fulfill that mission.

Mary Louise and Evange Kattides of Waterloo donate to Reep Green Solutions because they believe we all need to minimize our environmental footprint. They recognize that Reep Green Solutions offers the community many valuable hands-on services that help people to become more environmentally responsible and it does so effectively and in a way that’s easy for people to access and understand.

“When you donate money, even a modest amount, you want to make sure that it’ll make the greatest impact possible,” said Mary Louise. “And much like its messages on energy and water efficiency, Reep Green Solutions itself is a highly efficient organization. They manage to make a dollar go a long way.”

She continued, “While Reep Green Solutions is a local organization and is particularly relevant to our homes and this region, its impact reaches far beyond by addressing issues relating to climate change. It is exactly this kind of effort at the community level that collectively will make the greatest difference globally.”

Caring about the environment means caring about each other and the world we live in. That is why Reep Green Solutions helps you to live sustainably and why your gifts of time and money are so important. For example, with your help we are making the Reep House for Sustainable Living available as a showcase of ideas for your home, and bringing people together to learn at informative workshops and tours.

Together, we can make a difference. Give online today!

The post Giving locally for a global impact appeared first on Reep Green Solutions.

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Soakaways and rain gardens have many similarities; however, it is important to know the differences when deciding on which rain smart addition to add to your yard.

Adding a soakaway will provide a low maintenance, and low profile feature that will allow rain to percolate down into the groundwater. Here is some information you need to make decisions for your property.

What is a soakaway?

A soakaway, also known as an infiltration gallery, is a way to infiltrate water underground. Whether that water comes from rain barrels or downspouts it allows for some space for it to sit and gradually go into the ground, instead of running off into storm sewers or flooding in unwanted areas. Soakaways are installed by digging down into the ground to provide a hole at least one meter deep.

Once you have a hole, you have a couple options to consider on how to fill it.

1) You can install storm water crates. These can hold more water in less space but are more expensive. They can be found in the pond section of your nursery or can sometimes be purchased through a landscaper such as those on our list.

2) Line the hole with landscape fabric and fill it with clean gravel (avoid gravel that has sand mixed in). Gravel can be purchased in bulk from a landscape supply company that sells to the public. It requires more space to hold the same amount of water as the crates but is the cheaper option.

Rain is directed to the soakaway from a downspout. It is a good option to create a rock lined channel before the inlet which slows the water down and can prevent any debris that runs off the roof from clogging up the soakaway. You can top if off with more rocks if you like that look or there is the option to cover up the soakaway with grass, plants, or if you are using storm crates, a permeable pathway or patio. If you choose to cover your soakaway be sure to add another layer of landscape fabric to prevent soil from entering and causing clogging. Also ensure you have access to be able to inspect and clean out the inlet and outlet. .
Environmental Benefits

Groundwater recharge is a primary benefit of installing a soakaway in your yard.

Watch our video on how to install a soakaway

How to Make a Soakaway Pit - YouTube

Why a soakaway over a rain garden, or why not both?

The main difference between soakaways and rain gardens is that rain gardens are filled with a sand and compost mix and soakaways use storm water crates or are filled with gravel or stones.

Unlike rain gardens which require a larger surface area in the yard, soakaways only require one meter squared of space, allowing even small yards to accommodate a soakaway. This size difference allows you to use a soakaway in tight spaces or spots that aren’t suitable for plants.

Soakaways come in many shapes as well! For these reasons, a soakaway can be built in addition to a rain garden, since the rain collected in the soakaway can provide additional water for the garden.

How and where should a soakaway be built?

A soakaway must be carefully designed and maintained to properly work and achieve the desired results. How, you might ask, should it be designed? Using the following considerations:

Soil type: Porous soils surrounding the soakaway work better than clays
Location: Ensure a proper distance from foundations and consider the slope of the land (less than a 5% grade is needed)
Utilities: Call or click before you dig.
Overflow: Always have a place for the soakaway to overflow if it fills up. Use gravity as your guide to direct any overflow to an area downhill away from the foundation of the home.
Space: Although limited space is needed, establish there is enough space for the soakaway

Additional benefits

Soakaways allow water to be diverted away from the home, which reduces the likelihood of your yard or basement flooding.

Soakaways can be a cost-effective option for most homeowners to live sustainably and do their part in being rain smart.

Learn more

To learn more about soakaways, or to compare information about different rain smart solutions, attend demonstration or workshops that Reep Green Solutions offers.

The post The advantages of soakaways for RAIN Smart Homes appeared first on Reep Green Solutions.

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By: Andrew Jackson, Communications Volunteer

There are many options out there when it comes to heating and cooling your home. One viable, easy to install, and low energy consumption option is an air source heat pump (ASHP).

How ASHPs work and operate is pretty simple. They extract the heat from outside. They can do this down to -15 C, and distribute it inside the home. They are also able to do this in reverse allowing them to cool your home by extracting the warm air from inside the house and distributing it outside. Depending on the system being installed an ASHP can also provide water heating capabilities. You can also get a dedicated ASHP water heater like the one at the Reep House for Sustainable Living.

ASHP systems vary greatly in size and ability, and it is important to consider your home’s needs to ensure that you select one that operates properly and efficiently.

If you’re transitioning from an electric furnace to an ASHP, you can expect savings of up to 50%, depending on your local climate, what system you had previously, the fuel used in that system, and your local costs for fuel or electricity. Your habits also play a big role in the efficiency of your ASHP. Until December 31, 2017, a generous rebate is available to help you make this transition.

An ASHP works slower than a conventional furnace, often taking a few hours to heat a home when a conventional furnace may take half an hour. Remembering to close windows and doors, and having good insulation can greatly affect the efficiency of your ASHP system.

Traditionally, ASHPs have been considered inefficient in colder climates, like Waterloo Region. However, the technology has advanced considerably in the past few years, so many of the better models work great for most of the year. They experience setbacks only during a few of the coldest days in winter when temperatures drop below their operational level. As temperatures decrease an ASHP can become damaged due to a buildup of frost in the filters. For this reason it is important to have some form of alternative backup heating system.

Depending on the model, an ASHP will automatically shut down between -8 C and -22 C to reduce wear and tear. It is important to understand how often in your region the temperature will drop below your ASHP’s operational level to understand how often you will require an alternative heat source. Understanding your regional temperature range also greatly influences the type of ASHP you should purchase.

Incentives and rebates are available to help reduce cost of installation can be found through the Home Reno Rebate offered through a partnership of Union Gas, the government of Ontario, and Save On Energy. Depending on the ASHP system being installed rebates of up to $4000 are available to homeowners that heat with electricity.

Learn more about the rebates available through the Home Reno Rebate program.

The post Air Source Heat Pumps: What are they? Should you get one? appeared first on Reep Green Solutions.

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by Tiffany Li, Communications Volunteer

When purchasing an older home, it’s important to go into the purchase knowing where your home may need some help. That’s why Ryan Jenner, a London resident purchased a 1957 bungalow with the intentions of making his home as energy efficient as possible and sought the right people to help him on his journey

While thinking about home renovations or upgrades, making the most out of your dollar is important and having expert advice is key.

Ryan had ideas of what he wanted to upgrade and renovate his home but he reached out to the Reep Green Solutions team to set up an EnerGuide Home Energy Evaluation  with one of our Certified Energy Advisors (CEA) to have a second opinion. He chose us to evaluate his home because he was impressed by the knowledgeable staff who answered his call and questions. Ryan didn’t anticipate upgrading his windows but the advisor was able to explain the benefits of making good window choices.

For the initial audit, the advisor rated Ryan’s home 52 on the EnerGuide rating. After the renovations, he came back for the second audit and found that Ryan’s original score had increased to 78–a major improvement!

This renovation was a huge undertaking because the entire home was dated and in it’s original form. It had zero insulation, an old furnace, a mercury thermostat and the water tank was well over 30 years old. After the audit, the renovations began and a new furnace, air conditioner, water tank were installed, and nine of the windows were replaced. Ryan also insulated all his exterior walls and the attic, and fixed his chimney so there wasn’t a draft coming through his home.

Lastly, a programmable Wi-Fi thermostat has been the biggest help in regards to comfort and convenience. Ryan is able to program the temperatures in his home to suit his needs whether it’s to keep temperatures a bit “cooler in the winter and warmer in the summer to help save money”.

The total renovations cost approximately $12,000 but with the Home Reno Rebate program, Ryan was able to take advantage of the maximum rebates of $5,000. The work on his new home has made a huge difference. Prior to the renovations, the main floor and the basement were the same temperature but now Ryan says there is a notable change in temperature when moving between floors.

One piece of advice Ryan has for homeowners would be to do research on all the available rebates and resources that are available to maximize your energy savings. The benefits found as a result of this project include the value of his home increasing and the long term savings and comfort he now experiences.

To learn more about what rebates and programs that are available in your area, check out the Home Renovation Rebates page to find out how you can start your energy saving journey today!

The post London homeowner receives $5000 in rebates for renovations appeared first on Reep Green Solutions.

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