Energy-efficient establishments: Ontario grants and programs that provide small businesses with energy-efficient technology

According to a 2023 study by Unite for Change, 75 per cent of Canadians are concerned about climate change. The study also shows that Canadians rank climate change as one of the main risks to their future.

 The anxiety around climate change is primarily due to fossil fuel companies, the largest contributors to climate change. Fossil fuel companies burn coal, oil and gas, which accounts for over 75 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 90 per cent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions.

Although these big companies are mainly responsible for climate change, small businesses that utilize energy-efficient technologies can still positively impact the environment.

Energy-efficient technology uses less energy while still obtaining a desired energy level, effectively decreasing greenhouse gas emissions and energy bill costs. It also makes the negative impacts of climate change less severe by mitigating CO2 emissions. Given the efficiency and sustainability of energy-efficient technology, it has become one of the main ways businesses contribute to the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 goal.

Examples of energy-efficient technology include LED lights, cool roofs, equipment that reduces waste and renewable energy resources.

According to the United Nations, renewable energy is produced from natural sources that are replenished at a greater rate than consumption.

The most common renewable energy resources are wind and solar power,  which generate electricity without polluting the air to provide lighting, air conditioning and more. However, other renewable energy resources include geothermal energy, hydropower, bioenergy and ocean energy.

Given that renewable energy technology is constantly advancing through government investments, small business owners may consider implementing such technology daunting. For instance, a common misconception is that installing renewable energy is too expensive. On the contrary, there have been significant cost reductions in wind and solar power installations, and it is much cheaper than depending on coal, gas and nuclear power plants.

This means renewable energy resources are becoming more accessible to homes and businesses. In addition to its reduced costs, renewable energy is now available in all countries since it uses the sun, wind, water and more natural resources that vary between regions.

There are significant benefits to implementing energy-efficient technology in small businesses. In addition to environmental advantages, energy-efficient technology is a financially sound option for small businesses. For example, while the cost of solar energy has decreased by 60 per cent, solar energy also lowers the monthly energy bill by around 75 per cent. This is because solar energy does not depend on energy from the grid.

Furthermore, renewable energy sources are far more durable than non-renewable ones because renewable energy sources’ long lifespans mean fewer repairs and maintenance costs.

Additionally, implementing energy-efficient technology in a small business can create positive customer perception. When customers see solar panels on the roof of a small business or signage inside a small business highlighting its use of energy-efficient technology, they will view that business as environmentally ethical. As a result, those conscious customers will be more likely to support businesses that value sustainability as much as they do.

Because of all these benefits, small businesses should consider powering their stores with energy-efficient technology. Luckily, Ontario has many grants and programs that help small businesses lower their emissions by accessing energy-efficient technology.

Here are some programs and grants that can help Ontario small businesses transition into energy-efficient establishments.

Bullfrog Power

Bullfrog Power was launched in 2005 with the goal of making Canada’s electricity habits more sustainable by offering green electricity to businesses and homes. Bullfrog Power implements renewable energy resources like wind, solar and low-impact hydro sources in small businesses and ensures that the energy they install has a positive environmental impact. They offer renewable energy certificates (RECs) so small businesses can replace their unsustainable energy systems. In addition, Bullfrog Power provides programs to educate employees about renewable energy.

City of Toronto Eco-Roof Incentive Program: Green Roofs Grant

The City of Toronto Eco-Roof Incentive Program: Green Roofs Grant provides small businesses with grants for installing green roofs and cool roofs. A green roof is a roof with gardens or vegetation to remove heat from the air and cool down buildings naturally, leading to less energy used on air conditioning. Cool roofs achieve the same thing but include reflective and emissive materials to reflect heat. The funding is $100/m2, and the grant can approve funding requests up to $100,000.


SolarTO gives tools to small business owners and homeowners in Toronto to install solar energy. In addition to complimentary consultations, SolarTO provides online visual checks, zoning verification, conceptual layout sizing and assistance with the Toronto Hydro Distributed Energy Resource (DER) application and energy storage at no cost. Small business owners can feel confident about utilizing the benefits of solar energy at their establishments by estimating the installation cost, budgets and future energy bills through SolarTO’s tools.

The Save on Energy Small Business Program

The Save on Energy Small Business Program is best for small business owners in Ontario looking to install energy-efficient technology without committing to a large installation of renewable energy sources. The program provides $2,000 for efficient lighting equipment and $2,500 for non-lighting equipment, which they install. Some services small business owners can request include LED light installation and fan motor replacement. LED lights emit the same luminosity as conventional incandescent or compact fluorescent lights. At the same time, 95 per cent of the energy is converted into light, and only five per cent is wasted as heat. Therefore, small changes such as lighting can still significantly decrease greenhouse gas emissions

The Canadian government provides such incentives because they understand climate change is a serious issue. To hit the Net Zero Emissions by 2050 goal, Canadian businesses must do their part by utilizing energy-efficient technology. The more energy-efficient establishments, the quicker we can reach our goal.

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