Apr 9, 2012

An Easy, Affordable Way to Reduce Your Carbon Footprint, Save Money, and Increase the Comfort of Your Home

(The following post is from Greta Hutchinson, of Cascadia Consulting, who works with Community Power Works to spread the word about their energy audit and upgrade program. 4/09/12)

“We just got a $1,200 bill from the oil company.  We just can’t afford it anymore,” lamented a Seattle resident who recently called the Community Power Works (CPW) for Home customer service line.
The Community Power Works customer service team is used to hearing stories like this. Hundreds of Seattle residents have turned to Community Power Works over the last year because of high energy bills, drafty windows, an old furnace that just can’t warm the house, or moldy insulation that is worsening allergy symptoms. 

“The best part of the job is being able to tell residents who have cold, leaky homes and high energy bills—Community Power Works can help!” says Maryellen Hearn, a Community Power Works customer service representative. 

Participating in Community Power Works starts with a home energy assessment called an Energy Performance Score (EPS).  The EPS measures your home’s energy efficiency and determines the recommended upgrades that will reduce energy use and make your home healthier and more comfortable. This assessment is valued at $400, but costs Community Power Works participants just $95 thanks to a special rebate from Seattle City Light. Over 800 Seattle residents have received an EPS through Community Power Works since the program started last April. The results from the EPS are educational—and often motivational too.  

CPW customer Allyson Adley outside her newly upgraded home
“When we learned that 86% of the warm air in our house was escaping each hour and being replaced with cold air from outside, we were shocked. That provided us with the motivation to act,” said Washington Park home owner Allyson Adley.

Common energy efficiency upgrades include duct sealing, floor and wall insulation, window replacements, and heat pump water heaters.  A very popular upgrade has been the installation of a ductless heat pump—especially for customers who had oil heat and wanted to switch to electric heat.  Community Power Works home energy auditor, Charlie Rogers, explains that, “if you heat with oil, you are probably spending between $1,000 and $2,000 annually on oil to heat your home, and possibly more based on fluctuating crude prices.” Yearly heating costs for an average Seattle home with an electric ductless heat pump are much lower—usually between $189 and $394. Community Power Works is also currently offering a $1,200 incentive for all customers who install a ductless heat pump—in addition to a range of other incentives that could save you thousands of dollars.  

The average Community Power Works customer increases the energy efficiency of their home by 30%--this not only increases the comfort of a home, but also the asking price once it comes time to put the home on the market. Starting last fall, the green features and energy efficiency of homes are now being considered formally as part of the home appraisal process. Seattle Coldwell Banker Bain real estate broker, Susan Sanders, also explains more anecdotally that, “prospective homebuyers just don’t like drafty homes that feel cold. Buyers are also quick to start adding up what utilities are going to cost them—especially if they are looking at an older home.”  

“I cannot get over how much value we’ve added to the house with the CPW upgrade. We feel good that we are not buying oil any more, and it’s a relief not to have to open that bill.” added Ms. Adley.
Community Power Works will save you money, increase the value of your home, and help you take a meaningful step in reducing the carbon footprint of your household.  If all of Seattle joins in, we can save energy equal to taking 26,255 cars off the road each year!  Community Power Works for Home recently expanded to serve all of Seattle—you can sign-up here.  

Community Power Works also plans to conduct energy upgrades at four local hospitals—Virginia Mason, Swedish, Harborview, and Group Health—by June 2013 while also upgrading hundreds of small businesses and more than a dozen municipal buildings.

1 comment:

  1. Here are additional stories on Sustainable Neighborhoods and energy audits