The comfortable, economical, valuable energy-efficient home
by Freeman Allen
Claremont is becoming an oasis of homes with energy upgrades that make them more comfortable and more valuable, while also providing them with lower utility bills.
Upgrades include improving insulation, eliminating air leaks, optimizing heating and cooling systems and installing solar. If any of these improvements seem like something you might like to do to your home, consider taking advantage of one or more of the many local resources and incentives that are available in Claremont.
There are several nonprofit groups offering helpful information, free of charge, and large rebates are still available. An excellent time to start the conversation will be on Saturday, January 28, when these groups are offering a chance to tour a home in Claremont that has recently completed an energy upgrade. Tours will be offered from 1 to 4 p.m. The location of the home is available by RSVP’ing to http://tenres.com/HomeEnergyTourClaremont.
I first became aware of home energy efficiency upgrades about eight years ago at the Hartman-Baldwin Design Build offices here in Claremont. At that time, the community organization Sustainable Claremont was just getting started. Devon Hartman taught us about building science, and how we could make our homes more energy efficient and more comfortable. Devon knew that I was with Sustainable Claremont, so we got together with others to form what came to be called the Claremont Home Energy Retrofit Project—CHERP. Chris Veirs from the city of Claremont was also an active participant and even created the CHERP logo.
The initial goal of the group was to get one percent, about 130, of Claremont homeowners to make their homes energy efficient through retrofits. That goal was surpassed long ago and is now approaching 400 homes in Claremont alone. Devon has since formed a new nonprofit organization called CHERP Inc., now the Community Home Energy Retrofit Project, and he has taken his concept to other cities throughout California and built a national reputation doing so.
All this activity around energy conservation can be confusing, especially with the constant barrage of “robo” calls that homeowners receive from unethical contractors. In Claremont, CHERP, Sustainable Claremont and the city are working together with local community organizations to help homeowners sift through the noise by providing helpful, unbiased information to help make our entire town more energy efficient. The joint program is called the Claremont Energy Challenge (CEC). Claremont, through CEC, is now in a nationwide competition for the $5 million Georgetown University Energy Prize—and more initiatives are planned for 2017.
At the state level, Energy Upgrade California (EUC) is a massive initiative that provides large incentives to participating homeowners who make improvements to save energy. The program is supported by the California Public Utilities Commission, the California Energy Commission, utility companies and others. EUC is funded by investor-owned utility customers through a charge added to their utility bills. Additional funds and assistance are available to homeowners in Los Angeles County.
Los Angeles County offers rebate programs and financing options to help reduce the overall costs of an energy retrofit and to provide loans to pay for retrofit costs not covered by rebates. Depending on the type of work completed, there are up to $6,000 in rebates currently available, which can dramatically reduce overall costs. The Energy Network (TEN), a nonprofit working for LA County, provides additional assistance and is a primary sponsor—along with CHERP, Sustainable Claremont and the city through CEC—for the home tour on January 28. Local volunteers will be there to talk about these exciting opportunities for your home.
Additional information about Los Angeles County’s residential energy rebate program can be found online at htpp://tenres.com/home-upgrade-2/. If you prefer to start with a friendly voice, call Sustainable Claremont at (909) 625-8767 extension 238, CHERP at (909) 293-8098, Energy Upgrade California at (855) 561-2243 or TEN at (877)-785-2237.
Demystifying Sustainability is a project of Sustainable Claremont (sustainableclaremont.org). Follow them on Facebook at facebook.com/sustainableclaremont and on Twitter @GreenClaremont, and consider becoming a member.