Is your home or any of its rooms too hot in the summer or too cold in the winter? Would you like more control over your energy costs? Participating in Baltimore Gas and Electric Company’s (BGE) Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program is a great way to improve your home’s comfort and cut your energy costs year-round. Just ask Columbia Association (CA) homeowner Ruth Nolan. “I wasn’t aware of how leaky my home was, until after the contractor performed some tests, and then I knew the renovations he recommended would be a worthwhile investment,” Nolan said.
Participation is easy. It starts with a Home Performance Energy Audit conducted by one of BGE’s specially trained and pre-screened participating contractors. In most cases, BGE customers can receive an audit for just $100—a $400 value.
Using state-of-the-art diagnostic equipment, a participating contractor assesses your home to identify energy leaks and areas causing the highest energy use. With the homeowner’s permission, the contractor will install a variety of energy-saving items at no additional cost. These might include up to 12 compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs), four faucet aerators, two efficient-flow showerheads, pipe insulation and tank wrap for electric water heaters.
After the audit, the homeowner receives a report identifying any problem areas and recommending specific home improvements or equipment upgrades that will address those problem areas. Typical solutions might include increasing insulation levels, sealing air leaks or replacing outdated or malfunctioning equipment, such as your heating and air conditioning system or water heater.
Nolan found the audit very informative. “I learned some things they could do to reinforce my insulation in the attic,” she said, “and they added a tent to my attic ladder door.”
By making the recommended energy efficiency improvements, homeowners can realize typical energy savings from 10 to 20 percent, while eliminating drafts, improving overall comfort and minimizing greenhouse gas emissions related to energy production.
And to help homeowners complete the recommended improvements at a lower cost, BGE’s program offers rebates from $100 to $3,150 for eligible projects. Nolan had the air leaks in her home sealed up, insulation installed in her attic and crawlspace, and ventilation problems fixed in an exhaust fan.
“The rebates available through the BGE Smart Energy Savers Program made my energy efficiency improvements much more achievable,” Nolan said. “Since the upgrades, I feel more comfortable about the investment I made to increase my level of energy efficiency, whether I stay in the home or decide to sell in the future. And, I am expecting a reduction in my monthly energy costs.”
BGE’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program recently completed its 2,000th job in just four years since the program’s inception. This program is one of several residential energy efficiency programs available through the BGE Smart Energy Savers Program, which supports the EmPOWER Maryland Energy Efficiency Act to reduce per capita energy consumption in the state by 15 percent by 2015.
“We’ve been very pleased with the success of all of our energy efficiency programs,” said Chris Walls, manager of BGE’s residential energy efficiency programs. “The Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program’s success is a direct result of our network of participating contractors whose knowledge and professionalism help customers make energy efficiency improvements to reduce their home’s energy use and improve comfort.”
Phil Nelson, president of CA, was excited to hear about the program and the success of Nolan’s upgrades. “I hope others in Columbia will be just as eager to participate in this program,” he said, “not only to reduce their energy costs, and improve the value of their home, but also to help our community do its part to help our state meet its goals for energy efficiency—and ultimately, environmental sustainability.”
If you would like to improve the comfort of your home and cut your energy costs, contact a participating contractor to schedule your Home Performance Energy Audit today. For more information and a list of participating contractors, visit BGESmartEnergy.com.
-Article by Jeremy Scharfenberg