Panic in the cold: A young family’s journey to a warmer home

Paige Morgan was expecting a baby boy when a winter storm hit New Brunswick last year, knocking out power and leaving her and her husband shivering in the cold.  

Originally from California, Paige moved to New Brunswick with her husband in October 2022, only to face a series of challenges in their new home that required extensive renovations.

Their ordeal peaked during a power outage in February 2023, exacerbated by freezing temperatures and strong storm winds. 

“Within a couple of hours, we could see our breath inside the house, and we could feel the wind through the walls,” said Paige.

“I’ve had a few panic attacks, but not to that extent…We were under five blankets, and I was just hyperventilating, and I was like, ‘I’m so stupid. Moving from California to Canada, what was I thinking?'”

From cold to cozy

Fearing getting stuck in the cold again, and with a newborn on the way, Paige and her husband needed to deal with the issue, but they knew it would be a costly fix. 

Not long after, Paige learned about the federal Greener Homes program from coworkers. The program offers an interest-free loan of up to $40,000 with a 10-year repayment term. Previously, the program offered grants ranging from $125 to $5,000 for eligible home improvements — which the couple received — but the federal government stopped accepting grant applications in February 2024.

Other programs available in Canada to make your home more efficient and reduce energy bills:

“Once I realized there was a program that could help insulate our house, that we wouldn’t have to pay all of that out of pocket, that there was a loan program that was zero interest for 10 years, that was extremely helpful,” said Paige. 

“So that’s the current journey that we’re on now. So that future me does not have another panic attack when another winter storm comes.”

Energy savings

Through the program, Paige and her husband completed a pre-retrofit audit with an energy advisor who helped them understand what renovations would make the most sense for their home.

“They give this fantastic, very detailed document of the priorities that you should set for insulating your house and making it more efficient,” said Paige. 

The young couple went ahead with renovations, including reinforcing cinder block walls with three inches of exterior foam, implementing double-studded framing on poured concrete walls, and are considering insulating the attic. Additionally, they are considering insulating their slab, taking advantage of available rebates.

The retrofits have made a significant difference in maintaining the heat in their home, Paige said. The new parents have also seen extensive savings on their energy bills. When comparing their January 2024 bill to the same month one year earlier, they saved over $100 — more than half the $180 monthly repayment of their $22,000 loan.

“It’s really big savings and the house feels warmer too,” said Paige.

Lessons learned

While Paige said the house is warmer and the couple are saving money, there’s a lot she would do differently if she found herself in the same position again. 

She said the now-defunct federal grant program was extremely helpful in covering some costs, but because of the complicated nature of the application, she didn’t realize it only had a $5,000 cap. The new mother also wishes she had done more research into provincial programs that offered similar help, like the New Brunswick’s Total Home Energy Savings Program, but at the time, she believed she was ineligible. 

“The (provincial) programs aren’t as straightforward as the Greener Homes (Program),” Paige noted. 

“It would be nice if there was someone to tell you more about provincial-specific programs.”

And while Paige was able to take advantage of the federal grant program, she said she’s also disappointed to see grant applications stopped. 

Nevertheless, the young couple are thrilled to have a warmer home for themselves and their newborn son this winter and in the future.

“I’m very thankful that everything is good now,” Paige said.

Share this Post

Scroll to Top