Both the environment and your pocketbook can benefit.
Is your house wasting more energy than necessary? As part of the goal to mitigate climate change, California has established Energy Upgrade California. An energy efficient house is now easily within reach and more affordable. There are two versions of Energy Upgrade, both of which involve service from specially trained and certified contractors to make your house more energy efficient as well as increase its comfort and safety in a variety of ways. To encourage participation, rebates will be offered for at least another year.
The basic Home Upgrade, which qualifies for a rebate of $1000- $3500, provides for improvements that are readily identified. The Advanced Home Upgrade, in contrast, involves a rather extensive assessment of the house to identify energy losses that are significant but not so obvious. This option qualifies for up to $6500 in rebates. It is clearly the best choice for the homeowners who are not aware of where their houses are wasting energy.
The author, whose house has undergone the assessment process, can attest to its thoroughness. It involved two knowledgeable workers spending three hours and using specialized equipment to examine every nook and cranny. I accompanied one of the men for nearly two hours, discovering a variety of undesirable features of my house (such as an opening in the cold air return to the furnace that was sucking air from the attic!) and in being impressed with how much this guy knows about heat transfer. In the meantime, the other worker was making a variety of measurements, such as how much the house leaked air (equivalent to a 17 in. square hole in an outside wall), how thick the insulation in the attic is (much too thin to be effective), whether the flue on the hot water heater was drawing properly (no–it leaks carbon monoxide), and whether or not the walls are insulated (some yes, some no). The assessment costs $400, but $300 of that is rebated if improvements are actually made, and, given what we learned, we will at least add wall, floor and ceiling insulation, fix some furnace ducts and get a high-efficiency water heater. See
https://www.bayareaenergyupgrade.org/program-overview or call the energy advisor at (650) 297-2842.
By Bob MacDonald for the Climate Change Team
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