Getting green just became profitable.
Efforts to increase energy-efficiency and create green jobs received an important boost with the launch of California’s statewide energy efficiency program, Energy Upgrade California, which has its very own arm in Marin County.
The program is an unprecedented alliance of federal agencies, the California Energy Commission, the California Public Utilities Commission, local governments and regional utilities. Through homeowner rebates and incentives of up to $4,000, Energy Upgrade California expects to upgrade 100,000 homes, reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create as many as 12,000 construction and related jobs statewide.
“A significant portion of Marin County’s energy consumption comes from our residential sector, so to have a program that is focused on helping our residents make their homes more efficient, healthy and comfortable will go a long way towards helping us meet our climate action and countywide plan goals,” said Marin County Supervisor Susan Adams.
Homeowners in Marin can now qualify for rebates and incentives and save money on their monthly utility bills by implementing energy-saving upgrades to their homes. The County of Marin is also providing additional incentives of up to $750 and Marin Clean Energy customers will also be eligible for an additional $500 incentive.
Energy Upgrade home improvements that qualify for rebates include sealing and insulation, heating and air conditioning upgrades, energy-efficient windows, high-efficiency water heaters and other permanent improvements to your house.
The program’s website provides tools and resources for homeowners to learn how energy efficiency upgrades can improve their homes, view the rebates and incentives, and choose and contact a participating contractor.
Ana Toepel of the Marin County Sustainability Team fielded some questions about how the program works and how Marin residents can benefit from it.
Patch: Is this a new program?
Toepel: The program began in March and rebates will be available through the end of 2012. The County of Marin’s Community Development Agency is the local partner that is responsible for the local implementation of this collaborative, statewide program.
Patch: What is the primary goal?
Toepel: The primary goals of this program are to help homeowners reduce energy use, increase home comfort, save money and help the environment.
Patch: What would many people be surprised to learn about their homes and wasted resources?
Toepel: Many people would be surprised to learn that their homes are leaking energy and that much of what they are spending on their utility bills is going to waste.
Approximately 40 percent of the energy produced by the average home gets wasted. Many people think that most air loss is from doors and windows, but it is actually the floors, walls, and ceiling that leak the most. Proper sealing and insulation has a much greater impact on saving energy than replacing windows.
Most people are surprised to find that their furnace is two times the size it needs to be. When they seal and insulate their homes sufficiently, they are able to use a much smaller furnace, saving both energy and money.
Additionally, lesser-known sources of air leaks are often discovered, such as recessed lighting, faulty ductwork hidden from view or fans and vents. People are often unfamiliar with what’s occurred historically under the surface that is now causing poor indoor air quality and drafts, as well as wasting resources.
Patch: Why is this important to Marin residents?
Toepel: This program is a great addition to the efforts Marin residents are already making to become more energy-efficient and support a healthier environment. It gives Marin residents the opportunity to make home improvements needed for greater efficiency and comfort and have the cost of those efforts offset by rebates.
Marin residents will also benefit from making a smart investment in their home’s future, either ensuring the durability of their home for their long-term enjoyment or increasing the resale value of the home. Additionally, home energy upgrades are a good means of addressing uncertain utility costs and impacts of climate change.