Energy Efficiency Programs See All

Energy efficiency programs secure energy savings through various strategies such as audits, retrofits, training for building tradespeople, “people-centred” or behavioural efficiency strategies, and customized industrial programs.

Energy Efficiency Program Administration

Efficiency Nova Scotia administers electricity and non-regulated fuel programs in Nova Scotia. Efficiency Nova Scotia was established as an independent, non-profit corporation in 2010, becoming Canada's first 'energy efficiency utility'. In 2014, the government converted the role of demand-side administrator to a franchise, granted for the first 10 years to EfficiencyOne (the former Efficiency Nova Scotia corporation).

Electricity efficiency programs are funded through rates, and subject to oversight by the Utility and Review Board (UARB). Non-electric programs are primarily funded by the provincial and federal governments, and are governed by fee-for-service agreements with the Province.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Energy Efficiency Targets

In Nova Scotia, electricity savings targets are approved by the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (UARB), under the current 2020-2022 demand side management plan and upcoming 2023-2025 DSM Resource Plan which was approved by the UARB September 6, 2022. Non-electricity targets are published in the Efficiency Nova Scotia business plan.

There are no targets in policy or regulation.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Energy Efficiency as a Resource

An Act Respecting Electricity Efficiency and Conservation (2014) established Efficiency Nova Scotia as an “energy efficiency utility” that acts as an independent franchise with the exclusive right to supply electricity and conservation to Nova Scotia Power Incorporated.

The act states that Nova Scotia Power “shall undertake cost-effective electricity efficiency and conservation activities that are reasonably available in an effort to reduce costs for its customers” (Section 79(I)(1).  This does not mean all cost-effective DSM. The Act further states that the utility board takes into account “affordability” to customers (Sect 79L(9)). Affordability (i.e. rate versus bill impacts) is not defined.

Varying levels of DSM investment in the near to mid-term are examined during the development of an Integrated Resource Plan (IRP).  There is no fixed schedule for IRPs in Nova Scotia, but they are generally completed every 3-5 years.  Efficiency Nova Scotia supports the IRP process by developing DSM Potential Studies in advance of each IRP.

In early 2021, Nova Scotia Power released its final Integrated Resource Plan, which included deep decarbonization scenarios.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Efficiency Potential Study and Energy Planning

On November 27, 2020, Nova Scotia Power released its 2020 Integrated Resource Plan (IRP). This IRP delved further into Distributed Energy Solutions, Electrification Activities, and Demand Response. Base DSM levels (about 130 GWh per year) were used to produce the resource plan with the lowest income demand. Demand Response levels of around 70 MW were also chosen.

In 2022, NS Power has commenced an "Evergreen IRP process" associated with the 2021 IRP Process. This process is intended to provide updated modelling associated with the 2021 IRP. This process is expected to continue throughout 2022.

Although there is no fixed schedule for IRPs in Nova Scotia, they are generally completed every three to five years.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Cost-Effectiveness Testing

Primary test: Total Resource Cost Test (TRC)
Secondary test: Program Administrator Cost Test 

The Total Resource Cost Test, at the program level, is the principal screening tool for cost-effectiveness, and the Program Administrator Cost test is reported for informational purposes in DSM plans.  

Non-energy benefits are not included in the TRC.  The Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board has ruled (M08888, Letter 80859) that it does not possess the jurisdiction to allow inclusion of non-energy benefits in the TRC.

The avoided cost of carbon was included for the first time in both the TRC and PAC tests as part of the 2023-2025 DSM plan.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Evaluation, Measurement and Verification

Savings for DSM programs are evaluated by a independent third-party evaluation consultant, and verified by a Utility and Review Board (UARB) appointed Verification Consultant. Annual evaluation and verification reports are filed with the UARB and publicly available on the UARB website. EfficiencyOne's current evaluation plan includes impact evaluations for each program annually and process evaluations as identified. Evaluation plans are developed on an annual basis.

Provincial programs programs are evaluated by a third-party evaluation consultant, with results being reported in the evalation reports provided to the Province.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Support for low-income energy efficiency programs

The 2014 Electricity Efficiency and Conservation Plan committed to retrofit all low-income homes over 10 years. 

EfficiencyOne’s 2020-2022 DSM plan includes “low income performance indicators”, which estimates low-income participants and resulting budgets and savings figures for a variety of programs. Participation is estimated using geographic census information, amongst other methods.

Programs include the HomeWarming program administered by Clean Foundation and Efficiency Nova Scotia, and the Affordable Multi-Family Housing and Efficient Product Installation administered by Efficiency Nova Scotia.

In December, 2022, the province announced that it will spend $140 million of combined federal and provincial funding on energy efficiency programs over four years. These programs include free heat pumps and electrical panel upgrades to low-income households.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Enabling Policies See All

Enabling policies refer to policies, regulations, and other activities that build supportive infrastructure and policy frameworks to advance energy efficiency in a province. 

Support for Financing

PACE Financing
The Municipal Government Act was amended in 2010 to authorize PACE loans. Section 81A enabled municipal councils to make by-laws to enforce charges on private property, with the consent of the property owner and section 65(aca) notes the potential to finance energy efficiency equipment installations, including solar panels.

Starting in 2013, a Halifax program called “Solar City” financed solar hot water installations through a local improvement charge. This was the first program to use LIC funding on a large scale, supported by the Canadian Federation of Municipalities Green Municipal Fund.

PACE financing programs are now available in over 10 municipalities in Nova Scotia. The provincial government offers financial support to assist municipalities in administering PACE programs and several organizations are now administering them on behalf of municipalities. The Clean Energy Program, operated by the Clean Foundation, provides PACE financing in the Town of Bridgewater, District of Lunenburg, District of Digby, District of Barrington, District of Yarmouth, Municipality of Cumberland, and the Town of Amherst, and other municipalities offer it through other organizations, with support from the government.

Efficiency Nova Scotia’s My Energy Improvement Plan PACE Program offers full design, implementation and administration of PACE on a not-for-profit basis.

The Town of Bridgwater is exploring program expansion opportunities to allow even deeper energy retrofits through the Clean Net Zero program, which is currently in the pilot phase.

PACE Atlantic CIC was founded in May 2020 under Nova Scotia’s trailblazing legislation for Community Interest Corporations. Community Interest Corporations (CIC) are a unique form of private incorporation that operate between the 100% for profit and the non-profit world. They operate with a mandate to provide a public good and the requirement to reinvest 60% of distributable profit for community benefit.


Efficiency Nova Scotia worked with financial lenders to offer financing on approved credit for loans up to $25,000 and terms up to 5 years for Home Energy Assessment upgrades. They also offer on-bill financing options for non-residential customers. The utility has a Small Business Energy Solutions and Affordable Multifamily Renter pilot program which they run in co-operation with Nova Scotia Power to offer zero percent financing on the customer's utility bill.

Nova Scotia Power offers on-bill financing for heat pumps, with terms ranging from three to 12 years at an interest rate of 7%.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Research and Development

Dedicated innovation funding

Efficiency Nova Scotia includes an Enabling Strategies budget in its DSM plan. The budget can be used to support education and outreach, development and research, and other related activities.

Pilots, projects, and demonstrations

Efficiency Nova Scotia is piloting two demand response programs in collaboration with Nova Scotia Power. One pilot involves direct control of domestic water heaters and the other is working with a third-party DR aggregator for Commercial and Industrial load curtailment. Pilots will run over the 2021/22 and 2022/23 winter seasons.

Program innovation

In 2021-2022 Efficiency Nova Scotia partnered with the City of Halifax on the design of a deep retrofit program which will be piloted in 2022. This pilot seeks to test a facilitated approach to program delivery, wherein Efficiency Nova Scotia will manage all aspects of the retrofit.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Lead by example

As of November 2008, all building construction financed by the government of Nova Scotia will be designed and constructed to a minimum LEED Silver standard, an energy efficiency improvement 35% above the 1997 Model National Building Code. Buildings must also provide a post-occupancy comparison of target efficiencies.

Efficiency Nova Scotia’s Onsite Energy Management program includes benchmarking participatory organization’s energy use against similar organizations - Housing Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia Health Authority and TIR Buildings.

The NS Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is using Energy Star Portfolio Manager to benchmark nearly 80 department owned buildings as part of the Energy Conservation Program.1  This benchmarking initiative is associated with a building recommissioning project.

Vehicle Fleets
An April 2013 Strategy “Choose how you move” states that it will require provincial infrastructure initiatives, including buildings, schools, road facilities, to be planned, located, and designed in a way that supports sustainable transportation goals. 

ReThink: Greener Choices at Work is an internal government sustainability initiative that proposes active transportation infrastructure in government buildings (e.g. bike racks and showers), encouragement of active and public transportation, and managing fleets by right-sizing and purchasing best-in-class vehicles and exploring shared resources between departments.

Last reviewed: November 2021

Grid Modernization

Advanced metering
Regulatory actions related to Nova Scotia’s AMI initiative began in 2015, with the installation of meters starting in 2019. Nova Scotia Power’s $133 million AMI initiative is currently underway. More than 90% of homes and businesses in the province have been upgraded to smart meters and work will continue throughout 2022 to upgrade those remaining.

Non-wires alternatives
In 2016 the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board (NSUARB ) ordered EfficiencyOne and NS Power to begin investigating non-wires alternatives and locational DSM (geotargeting) techniques. Three reports on the topic have been provided under board proceeding number M07815, and provide conceptual design information and proposed preliminary techniques for economic comparison.

 In 2020 NS Power produced updated avoided costs of transmission and distribution reports, which are available publicly at the NSUARB. These avoided costs provide an enabling key piece of information for the development of further locational DSM activity in Nova Scotia.

A locational DSM (“Klondike”) pilot was completed in 2020, for customers in the Kentville area. Enhanced incentives were provided through five existing Efficiency Nova Scotia programs.

Conservation voltage reduction
Conservation voltage reduction is not used in Nova Scotia.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Carbon Pricing

Nova Scotia hosted its first cap-and-trade auctions in June and December 2020. Proceeds are deposited into a green fund, which is legislated to be used to reduce GHG emissions, mitigate social and economic impacts, or adapt to the impacts of climate change.

The government stated that in 2020, approximately 88% of the $28.7 million raised would be used to support renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. This includes $11.45 million over five years to expand the existing Affordable Multi-family Housing program, $3.5 million over three years for the Small Business and Not-for-profit Energy Solutions program, and $4.75 million for the HomeWarming program. SolarHomes also received funding

In 2021, cap-and-trade auctions were held in June and November generating a total of $44.8M for use in fiscal year 2021-22. Of this total, 60% will be used to support a variety of renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Buildings See All

Buildings are a significant and often neglected component of Canada’s infrastructure, and high-performance buildings are important for our quality of life, physical and mental health, and economic productivity

Building Codes

Housing and Small Buildings
Nova Scotia Regulation 26/2017 to the Building Code Act made on March 1, 2017 adopted the 2015 National Building Code, effective April 1, 2017. This includes section 9.36 regulating energy efficiency in housing and small buildings. 

Large Buildings
In January 2020, Nova Scotia amended to N.S. Reg. 179/2019 (effective January 1, 2020) to adopt the 2017 National Energy Code for Buildings.

Nova Scotia’s recent Environmental Goals and Climate Reduction Act commits the province to adopt Tier 1 of the 2020 codes by September 2023.

Stretch or Step Codes
No stretch or step codes.  

Net-zero energy ready commitment
No commitment to a net-zero energy ready provision in Nova Scotia.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Building Code Compliance

No code compliance studies have been completed in Nova Scotia.

The province of Nova Scotia has provided funding to Efficiency Nova Scotia to develop additional training for the energy efficiency requirements in new buildings. This training is offered at no or minimal cost, and during times that work best for the buildings community.

Efficiency Nova Scotia is partnering with Halifax Regional Municipality in 2022 on a pilot to provide training and support for building code officials, with the goal of increasing compliance to energy codes.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Home Energy Rating and Disclosure

Mandatory home energy rating and disclosure: No
Home energy labelling voluntary or pilot program: Yes 

Home sellers can upload their EnerGuide label onto the Viewpoint real estate listing website. This project received funding from the Government of Canada and is a joint venture between Efficiency Nova Scotia, the province, Nova Scotia Association of Realtors, and Viewpoint.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Building Energy Rating and Disclosure

Mandatory large building energy rating and disclosure: No
Voluntary building benchmarking and transparency program: Yes

The province, along with ENS and CaGBC, announced a voluntary energy benchmarking program in September of 2018. This program was officially launched in April 2020. Funding from NRCan’s benchmarking program is supporting this program, along with funding from the province. This program will run for three years.

Efficiency Nova Scotia’s Onsite Energy Management program includes benchmarking participatory organization’s energy use against similar organizations.

The NS Department of Public Works is using Energy Star Portfolio Manager to benchmark nearly 80 department owned buildings as part of the Energy Conservation Program. This benchmarking initiative is associated with a building recommissioning project.

The 2022 provincial budget committed $2.3 million for energy audits of provincial buildings.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Appliance and Equipment Market Transformation
Space Heating Windows Water Heating
Research and development - - -
Pilots and demonstrations Efficiency Nova Scotia partnered with Housing Nova Scotia and Nova Scotia Community College to pilot four hybrid thermal heat pump systems. Efficiency Nova Scotia is running a pilot program to provide additional incentives for new home construction that meets a specified performance level. Efficiency Nova Scotia partnered with NRCan, Nova Scotia Power, and the province to install and monitor performance of CO2-refrigerant split heat pump water heaters and conventional integrated heat pump water heaters.
Information and awareness Efficiency Nova Scotia’s programs require heat pumps to be Cold Climate certified, measured with internal criteria based on the North East Energy Partnership’s cold-climate heat pump list. Windows and doors must be ENERGY STAR® rated to be eligible for Efficiency Nova Scotia rebates. Efficiency Nova Scotia’s 2020-2022 DSM plan includes a focus on increasing uptake of domestic hot water measures.
Technology and installation training Efficiency Nova Scotia has hosted high performance building training sessions, which include information on selecting and installing space heating equipment. Efficiency Nova Scotia has hosted high performance building training sessions, which include information on selection and installation of high-performance windows. Efficiency Nova Scotia has hosted high performance building training sessions, which include information on selecting and installing water heating equipment.
Upstream or downstream incentives Efficiency Nova Scotia offers downstream incentives for heat pumps to both residential and commercial customers. Efficiency Nova Scotia provides downstream incentives for windows and doors. Efficiency Nova Scotia provides downstream rebates for integrated heat pump water heaters.
Regulation, codes and standards Efficiency Nova Scotia supports the development of CSA heat pump standards. - Efficiency Nova Scotia has provided support for CSA standards development.

Last reviewed: August 2020

Appliance and Equipment Standards

Nova Scotia regulates the efficiency of appliances and equipment under section 5 of the Energy-efficient Appliances Act. Updates were made in 2008 under NS Reg 400/2008, and in 2012 under NS Reg 172/2012 to create efficiency standards for LED roadway lighting.

Nova Scotia has endorsed the federal government work on the reconciliation agreement between the Federal Government and the Provinces and Territories to harmonize household appliances.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Efficiency Requirements for Government Supported Housing

There is no policy or standard for government supported housing, though housing Nova Scotia has built homes to the Passive House Standard.

A 2016 Social Infrastructure Fund agreement between the province and the federal government will invest $75 M in affordable housing over the 2016-17 and 2017-18 fiscal years. $18.2 M was earmarked for “retrofit and renovation”, which could include “improving the energy and water efficiency”.

Last reviewed: August 2019

Transportation See All

Policies tracked in the transporation area reflect the potential energy savings of closer integration of private transportation with buildings and electricity grids. 

Zero-Emission Vehicles Mandate

There is no zero-emission vehicle mandate in Nova Scotia.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Electric Vehicle Charging Program

NS Power installed a cross-province network of 12 DC fast charging stations on 100-series highways. There are no current incentives or programs to incentivize either public or private charging, though NS Power is piloting an initiative called Smart Grid Nova Scotia, which encourages customers to install a home EV charger and to give the utility the ability to control charging cycles. The goal is to shift EV charging demand to off-peak times.

Last reviewed: November 2021

EV and PHEV Financial Incentives

Consumer Incentives

In February 2021, Nova Scotia announced new direct-to-consumer incentives of $3,000 for new EVs, $2,000 for used EVs and new PHEVs, and $1,000 for used PHEVs through its EVAssist program. The province also offers an incentive of up to $500 for the purchase of an e-bike.

Commercial / Fleet electrification Incentives

Fleet operators are also eligible to receive incentives through Nova Scotia’s EVAssist program. Eligibility requirements follow the federal iZEV program—businesses are limited to 10 vehicles per year, and light, medium and heavy-duty vehicles are eligible, provided they are fully electric, or fully powered by hydrogen. The program is not available to local governments.

Last reviewed: November 2022

“EV Ready” Building Code

In the 2021 Premier mandate letters, the premier directed the Department of Energy and Mines to work with the Ministers of Infrastructure and Housing and Municipal Affairs to invest in electric vehicle charging infrastructure on provincial and municipal government buildings, and work toward electric vehicle fast chargers in all new commercial developments. 

Last reviewed: November 2022

Industry See All

In recognition that the industrial sector is highly varied across Canada, this database tracks policies that are broadly applicable to all industrial subsectors and provinces.

Energy Management

Efficiency Nova Scotia reported three industrial energy management programs: The Strategic Energy Management (SEM) program, the Energy Management Information Systems (EMIS) program, and an energy management program specifically for large industrial customers.

The SEM program is designed to work with industrial customers to find savings through operational and behavioural changes, while identifying capital projects that can be incentivized through Efficiency Nova Scotia’s Custom and Business Energy Rebate programs.

These programs are informed by the SEP-50001 and the International Performance Measurement and Verification Protocol (IPMVP). They do not require certification to receive the incentives.

Last reviewed: November 2022

Co-generation / Combined Heat and Power

Efficiency Nova Scotia (ENS) provides business program participants with technical and financial support for demand side management projects through the Custom program – this includes behind the meter combined, heat and power (CHP).

Financial support for CHP is the same incentive formula used for other efficiency measures through the Custom program. Custom program incentives are calculated based on electrical-utility energy offset by a CHP system, project cost and the participant’s required financial hurdle. Incentives are currently not based on non-electric energy saved or utility electrical-peak demand. Custom program incentives can be used by a participant to offset the cost the third-party feasibility study and/or towards the implementation of a system.

ENS supports CHP systems from micro to several megawatt (MW) plants – done on a case by case basis. All CHP systems must be behind the meter and thus net-metering, feed-in tariff arrangements are not eligible for the ENS Custom program. Technical support is provided by ENS’s engineering team including but not limited to:

  • Pre-feasibility analysis which includes estimating the right system size based on: application and utility/fuel bills;
  • Support defining third-party feasibility scope of work;
  • Review of third-party feasibility studies for accuracy; and
  • Independent measurement and verification.

ENS would require that a variety of system sizes be explored in the third-party feasibility study to ensure a likely success of a participant moving forward with investment. If a participant wants to explore the largest possible CHP system behind the meter we would require that the third-party feasibility study right-size a system by looking at facility electrical-demand and thermal load requirements. ENS strongly advises participants to factor future efficiency measures in the right-sizing of CHP; however, do not require it.

ENS does not support combined, heat and power systems unless there is a green-house gas emission reduction as a result of fuel-switching (utility electricity to on-site generation). Thus, this limits the use of fuels for a CHP system. However, ENS does not provide incentives or require the use of renewable fuels.

Last reviewed: August 2019

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