March 15, 2018

The turn of seasons is a smart time to reflect on how to be more energy efficient. We can start by making small changes, such as updating your home lighting to LED bulbs, which use 75% less energy than standard bulbs and last up to 20 times longer. We can also take time to consider more holistic approaches to home energy efficiency.

If you're ready to embark on bigger energy efficiency projects for your home, here are four easy steps to consider:

  1. Find a home upgrade professional contractor or rater that has been certified and trained to look at your entire home to identify ways to make energy improvements
  2. Work with your contractor to get an energy assessment
  3. Choose options that are best for you and make an improvement plan based on your home's needs
  4. And, finally, realize the benefits in rebates, incentives, and savings on your energy bill each month

There are numerous reasons to undertake a home upgrade, from improved comfort and indoor air quality to lower utility costs and increased home value. Incentives and rebates of up to $5,500 only sweeten the deal.

Energy Upgrade California incentives and rebates

In California, residents can visit the Energy Upgrade California website to directly link to the rebates and incentives offered by their local energy provider. Generally, programs start at $550 and may exceed $5,500, and range in options from rebates on energy efficient appliances to incentives for participating in programs that take a "whole house" approach to energy efficiency.

Comprehensive home upgrade programs have reduced natural gas use in California homes by as much as 21%, according to a California Public Utilities Commission 2015 Home Upgrade Program Impact Evaluation report.

Consider a program such as EUC's Home Upgrade to assist as you assess and address your home's energy needs. When you look at your home as a complete system, and then bundle at least three energy efficiency improvements, you will realize maximum savings and reduce energy use to make your home more comfortable. Examples of upgrade improvements include air sealing, duct sealing, high-efficiency appliances (furnaces, air conditioners, and/or hot water heaters), energy-efficient windows, and insulation (attic, wall, floor and/or ducts).

For example, consider switching to a new furnace or air conditioning unit. It will keep your house warm or cool and use less energy if you also seal the air ducts and install energy-efficient windows to eliminate drafts. Heating your home is the leading energy expense, accounting for more than half of your monthly natural gas bill if you have a natural gas furnace, or more than 40% of your electric bill, if your heating system is electric.

While customers may be eligible for incentives exceeding $5,500 based on their calculated energy savings, a good rule of thumb is to consider that an average rebate with a minimum of three qualifying measures will be $2,300 and cover approximately 15% of the project costs. Work with your participating contractor or rater to calculate your upgradeā€™s incentive.

Since every home is different, participating contractors can help you select which options would be best based on the needs and energy saving goals for your home. Together you can develop a customized plan to select upgrades that meet with your home efficiency goals and your budget.

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