Mansurali's Story

A HUP participant reflects on the value of the program

The smell of sweet incense wafts through Mansurali’s home, which features Kenyan-style art and a small but comfortable living room from which he shares his story.  

Mansurali has lived in Calgary for most of his life, and in this home since 2015. As a retired senior, he tracks his expenses closely while doing what he can to reduce energy and maintain the comfort of his home. Already, he has invested in upgrading his windows and regularly cares for his appliances, such as his furnace, for which he changes the filter every three months.  

“My biggest problem was when I had a business in downtown [Calgary]. My last business was a convenience store, like a smoke shop, in an office tower,” he says, reflecting on the years leading up to his retirement.  

When he started the business, the building was busy. Neighbouring the courthouse and benefiting from an economic upturn, Mansurali had many customers visiting his shop. Eventually, the courthouse moved and an oil and gas company moved into the building. Landlords also raised the rent, forcing out many of the smaller businesses. To make matters worse, a downturn followed, resulting in significant layoffs in oil and gas. The building grew quiet. And with the quiet came fewer customers.  

“So, there’s not many people left. For two years I was losing money,” says Mansurali, explaining how he asked for a reduction in his rent.

When he was denied, he packed up and left. By this time, Mansurali was nearly 70 and no longer in a position to invest the time and money required to build a new business. He decided to retire.  

“I had saved some money in an RRSP but still, it’s tough to make ends meet,” he says.  

With the rising cost of living, Mansurali is finding his energy bills to be a significant burden. Currently, his energy burden is 8.5%, meaning he spends 8.5% of his income on energy. In Canada, the median household energy burden is 3%, and when a household spends 6% or more of their income on energy, they are considered to be living in energy poverty1. He is also the primary guardian for his brother who currently requires assistance attending medical appointments. Layering the high cost of gas, groceries, energy, and other necessities has resulted in additional stress for Mansurali, who already relies on an unsecured line of credit with extremely high interest rates.  

When he learned about the Home Upgrades Program during a CTV news segment, he decided to apply. There is a four-degree difference between his basement and the main floor he shares, pointing to the blankets and space heater he keeps in his TV room. He also has Raynaud’s disease, which leaves his hands and feet especially cold. For this reason, maintaining a comfortable temperature is especially important.  

Thanks to the Home Upgrades Program, he now has a new high-efficiency furnace and attic insulation, and air sealing measures have been installed.  

“It [the program] has been a godsend,” he says in deep gratitude.  

1. Rezaei, M. (2017). Power to the people : thinking (and rethinking) energy poverty in British Columbia, Canada (T). University of British Columbia. Retrieved from

The program is made possible thanks to the generosity of our funding partners: Alberta Ecotrust Foundation, the City of Calgary, the City of Edmonton, ENMAX, the Alberta Real Estate Foundation, the McConnell Foundation, Suncor Energy Foundation, and Calgary Foundation.

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