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December 5, 2012

Energy efficiency program is good for the pocket book

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

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Energy efficiency program is good for the pocket book
Bobbie Wheelright from Blanket Insulation uses an infrared camera inside a home during a BetterBuildings for Michigan home energy audit.

EASTPOINTE — BetterBuildings for Michigan is hosting a meeting on energy savings opportunities for Eastpointe homeowners at City Hall from 4-6 p.m. Dec. 5.

BetterBuildings is a nonprofit organization that offers energy savings programs through the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office.

The meeting will provide residents with information on the organization’s home energy audit package, which includes more than $5,000 in energy efficiency incentives and has been proven to greatly reduce energy costs. The energy audit program costs $100, but SEMREO representatives say that’s nothing compared to what the program gives and saves homeowners.

Each audit includes a check of the home by a professional audit team that looks for air and gas leaks, providing on-the-spot fixes where possible, and the installation of energy-efficient light bulbs, sink faucet aerators and programmable thermostats. And, the savings is even greater than that.

“It always surprises me just how much and how quickly these energy savings opportunities pay for themselves,” said Gillian Ream, communication coordinator at SEMREO. “On average, homeowners who do the audit see $250 in energy savings per year and that average increases to $475 for the homeowners that take advantage of the incentive programs, such as high-efficiency water heaters and insulation.”

Despite the potential cost savings, though, Ream said they haven’t had much of a response from Eastpointe residents. Since the program was brought to the city in June, only 15 Eastpointe residents have opted to participate.

The program was brought to Royal Oak at the same time and has serviced 72 residents there. Sterling Heights was one of the program’s pilot cities, and since its launch there in 2011, more than 200 residents have participated in it.

In Roseville, another launch city, 100 residents have taken part in the program and many have offered glowing reviews. In June, Roseville resident Michael Sova told the Eastsider that, with the use of the incentives offered through the audit program, he saved $3,000.

“We’re pretty ecstatic about how the program has worked out for us,” added Sova, who used rebates to cover the majority of the cost of insulating the walls, ceiling and attic of his home. He had the work done last year, and even though last winter was mild, he estimated he saved $200 in energy costs by participating in the program.

“There are a lot of people who tell us that at least half or more of the cost to install energy-efficient upgrades in their homes is covered by incentives offered through the program,” Ream said.

The energy-efficient upgrades not only help save money on energy costs, but they also increase home value. “Every $1 reduction in energy costs raises the home value by $20,” Ream said. “So if people make upgrades through the program and save on average $475, that raises their home value by $9,500.”

And energy efficiency might soon be a factor in home inspections. In a Nov. 28 “special message” on energy and the environment, Gov. Rick Snyder said that a home’s energy efficiency is as important as many of the other areas covered in home inspections.

“When people are looking at buying a home, they receive an inspection report, telling them about the plumbing, the roof and many things about the house that aren’t visible to the naked eye,” Snyder said in the speech. “What they don’t know is whether the house is energy-efficient. Legislation that would add energy-efficiency information to those reports is needed, and I encourage the Legislature to act on a bill in the new year.”

Roseville will also be hosting an information program for residents there in early December. The specific date was not available at press time.

For information on either meeting, call Kendal Conerly, the BetterBuildings representative for Roseville and Eastpointe, at (313) 566-4801.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.