Summit County homeowners eligible for discounted energy audit
Last year, Summit County adopted a Climate Action Plan to reduce the amount of greenhouse gas emissions coming from homes and businesses in the community.
The plan called for an overall reduction of the 2015 levels by 15 percent before 2030. In an effort to accomplish that goal, the county is facilitating a program offering subsidized assessments to homeowners to determine a home’s energy efficiency score, somewhat like a car’s fuel economy label.
“One of the goals of the county is to reduce our energy consumption and one way to do that is by weatherizing homes,” said Erin Bragg, Summit County’s sustainability specialist. “We decided to go with the assessment and we wanted it to be accessible for residents.”
The county launched the program on Wednesday, Oct. 19, for the first 100 eligible homeowners who sign up. Primary residents who occupy an existing, detached single-family home in the county can apply for the U.S. Department of Energy certified home energy score assessment through the county’s website.
The county plans to cover approximately $150 toward each energy assessment through the program. The assessments are typically valued at around $200. The homeowner will be responsible for paying $50.
“We had money in our budget for this,” Bragg said of the $15,000 earmarked for the program. “This was not a new allocation, rather a few projects/programs the Sustainability Office carried out over 2016 came in below budget thus we had funds to put toward this pilot program already in the Sustainability Office budget.”
Bragg said the county will use the data from the assessments to better understand the ways homeowners in the community can improve their home’s energy efficiency and reduce their utility costs.
The energy score includes details about the home’s current structure, systems and estimated energy use. An assessor generates a score based on a 1-to-10 scale, with 10 being the best. The homeowner will also be given recommendations for improving their score, Bragg said.
“We think people will be interested in this and it will be another way to reduce energy consumption and make their home more comfortable,” Bragg said. “We are going to see the interest and check our results. Did they make the improvements? Did they take advantage of the local, state and utility rebates? If they like it, we want to continue it.”
Bragg said the county will conduct follow-up interviews with homeowners after three and six months to document the improvements that have been made.
The county is conducting the program in conjunction with the work being done by Summit Community Power Works (SCPW). The organization was created to lead the county’s efforts in the Georgetown University Energy Prize Competition, which pits communities against each other in the hopes of winning $5 million.
Mary Christa Smith, SCPW project manager, said the weatherization program is one of the four programs that were outlined in the beginning of the competition, set to end on Dec. 31.
“When they have done studies on Park City, in particular, they have shown that 56 percent of the energy residents consume goes toward heating their homes so we are happy to role this out before the end of the competition,” Smith said. “Knowledge is power and our homes represent a big portion of the energy we consume. Adjusting the leaks has a tremendous effect and it is truly the biggest impact that we can make.”
For more information about the programs eligibility requirements and sign up, go to http://summitcounty.org/826/Home-Energy-Score.
Meredith Reed was elected to a two-year term as chair of the Summit County Democratic Party and said she sees an opportunity to ride the so-called blue wave that saw a Democratic surge nationally and within the state.