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What financial aids are available to property owners keen to green their homes?

While policymakers just signed an environmental agreement during the Paris Climate Talks, certain policies are already in place in France to promote energy-efficient housing.

With environmental concerns weighing increasingly on lawmakers’ decisions, France has been steadily developing and implementing ecological incentives for homeowners to improve their properties’ energy performance in the last few years. A recent study by the Crédit Foncier details certificates and aid delivered to owners with the aim of greening the French real estate sector.

  1. Tax Credit for Energy Transition

The Tax Credit for Energy Transition (CITE) is a tax rebate of 30% on expenditures for equipment and installations committed to improving a home’s energy performance. It is intended to support new technologies working towards sustainable development and encourage individuals to make energy efficiency improvements in their residences.

The amount of the rebate totals 8,000 euros for a single person and 16,000 euros for a couple and to benefit from it, the work must be carried out by a professional officially recognized as an environmental guarantor.

  1. Exemption from property tax

Owners of units completed before 1989 can benefit from an exemption from property tax if energy saving work has been undertaken. Local authorities are able to offer partial or total exemptions to homeowners on a case by case basis.

For properties completed after the 1st of January 2009, holding the BBC label — “bâtiment à basse consummation” or low energy consumption building — is a condition for property tax exemption.

  1. Aids from the National Housing Agency

Under the “Better Living” program, the National Housing Agency (Anah), subsidizes thermal renovation for low-income households. In place since 2011, this support can take the form of financial aid — covering between 35 and 50% of the total amount — or social and technical project assistance. The work must ensure better energy performance by at least 15% and must be carried out by building professionals to be eligible. Aids are only afforded to units older than 15 years who have not received any other form of state funding.

The Anah is a public institution founded in 1971 to improve the existing private housing stock. Its work involves providing grants to homeowners to undertake essential repairs. Last year, the “Better Living” program helped 50,000 homes undergo energy-efficiency renovation, 60% more than in 2013.

  1. Energy Savings Certificates

Energy Savings Certificates (CEE) are issued in agreement with the State and prove that energy saving action was carried out by a company, individual or public authority. The CEE was created in 2005 following the Kyoto Protocol, with the aim of reducing French energy consumption. Energy suppliers are encouraged to promote the certificates to individuals and offer specific bonuses, benefits and reductions to certificate holders.

The CEE is measured in terms of KWh (kilowatt-hour, a measure of energy consumption) “cumac” — a contraction of the French words for “cumulative” and “updated” — with the number of KWh cumacs corresponding to the quantity of energy saved thanks to the works or renovations that have occurred.

The 2015-2017 period is the latest and greatest of three energy saving targets set by the government. During this time, the goal is of 700 KWh, 52% of which must be achieved by energy sellers.

  1. Local aid

Local authorities — at the municipal, departmental or regional level — have developed their own forms of aid designed to encourage works improving energy savings in homes. The type, amount and eligibility requirements differ from one community to another. These aids can often be combined with other forms of incentives promoting energy-efficiency, such as the CEE or Anah subsidies, among others.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons / Père Igor

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