California residents at a loss about where to start with a home energy-efficiency upgrade need wonder no more. A big new program called Energy Upgrade California just launched and it’s aiming to help cut through the confusion about which projects to tackle, what contractor will do the work and how much financial support is available.
At the heart of the program is a web portal intended as a “one-stop clearinghouse for information, incentives, scholarship and rebates including alternative financing for residential and commercial building improvements and financial incentives by lenders.” Each of the state’s 58 counties has its own page highlighting the services and energy efficiency opportunities available, and residents can drill even deeper by entering their zip code.
Visitors can learn about incentives for esoteric renewables such as fuel cells and wind turbines, but two general home energy-efficiency programs are highlighted and intended for most state residents. There’s a Basic Upgrade Package, designed to improve energy efficiency by 10 percent, which comes with a $1,000 rebate. And there’s a customized Advanced Package, which promises energy savings between 15 and 40 percent, and comes with rebates ranging from $1,250 to more than $4,000 depending on the utility provider and energy savings achieved.
Though announced by the California Energy Commission, the upgrade program is a collaboration between that agency, the state’s Public Utilities Commission, utilities, local governments, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector. The Energy Commission said some $1.2 billion is behind the project, including more than $1 billion from the utilities and nearly $150 million from the federal Recovery Act.
In addition to spurring energy savings, there’s hope the program will also lead construction-related jobs and increased sales for local building suppliers and retailers.