Thursday, April 23, 2009
Energy audits, supply sources, & tax credits
It's a great idea to have an energy audit performed on your house. A good auditor will be able to identify the sources of energy leakage, possible issues with air quality, and create a report that will quantify the energy savings vs. cost of making suggested improvements. It will cost $400-$500. Make sure you use a certified Home Energy Rater. RESNET has a directory, http://www.natresnet.org/directory/raters.aspx. A local company that does a wonderful job is AccessGreen, http://www.accessgreen.com/. You can schedule an audit directly from their site, which is very informative. Montgomery County has just passed a new program called HELP, Home Energy Loan Program, which is modeled after a program in Anne Arundel County. Our councilmember, Roger Berliner, has been spearheading energy conservation efforts in the county. The program specifies that, if a homeowner has an energy audit, the costs of the suggested energy measures can be borrowed from the county at a zero to nominal rate and is paid back over an extended period of time (I have heard 10-15 years, but I haven't seen the actual legislation yet) on the property tax bill. No separate checks to be paid, and, if you sell the house, the cost remains on the tax bill, and doesn't follow you. My understanding is that the cost of the audit itself can be made part of the long-term loan. Savings on energy bills after remediation often more than pay for the remediation itself. To follow through with energy repairs, the Amicus Green Building Center, www.amicusgreen.com, which sells quality products that are sustainable, energy conscious, and healthy (such as top-quality paint that doesn't emit toxic chemicals). Prices are very competitive, but you will find products that are unavailable elsewhere, as well as staff that is extremely knowledgable. They are in Kensington on Howard Ave., but you can shop online as well. Amicus Green has created relationships with reliable contractors who are familiar with the products and energy issues, so you won't have to re-educate a contractor. Montgomery County has a program called Clean Energy Rewards. Among other incentives, you can get credits on your electricity bill if you specify that you want 50% or 100% wind power to supply your home's energy needs. The county site for the various incentive programs is http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/deptmpl.asp?url=/content/dep/rewards.asp There are other incentive programs available from the state and fed'l gov't, often involving tax credits. These programs are expanding all the time. You can check for fed, state, and local incentive programs at www.dsireusa.org.