POSTED ON 07.31.2015 1:13 P.M.
Thousands of Homeowners Embrace emPower Central Coast Program
SOURCE: ANGELA PACHECO FOR EMPOWER
Project numbers have also increased with the expansion. To date, 675 energy efficiency projects have been initiated with 152 projects completed. Contractor reports estimate that completed projects save 29 percent energy usage on average.
By generating over $3 million in project activity for participating contractors, emPower has also been able to support job growth in the local residential construction industry.
Over the last year, emPower has been working with homeowners and local contractors to overcome obstacles to implementing home energy improvements, such as improving home air sealing and properly installing energy efficient water heaters.
These efforts have included free home energy consultations with energy coaches for homeowners; connecting homeowners with qualified, local contractors and making utility incentives and low-interest financing available.
During the hundreds of home site visits conducted free of charge by emPower energy coaches, poor insulation and air sealing were identified as being among the most common issues affecting inside temperatures and comfort. Fifty-eight percent of the homes were found to have no wall insulation whatsoever, and nearly eighty percent of homes have insufficient or improperly installed “batt” insulation in their attic or no attic insulation at all.
“As we cross the one year mark, we are pleased to report a significant number of community members are taking steps toward creating a healthier environment for all by improving the energy efficiency and health of their own homes,” said Ashley Watkins, emPower Program Services Supervisor.
“Services like our home-energy site visits are having a real impact. We recently surveyed homeowners who took advantage of this service, finding they were 76 percent more likely to make home energy upgrades, with 41 percent having already initiated energy efficiency upgrades,” Watkins said.
One of the easiest opportunities for any home to save on energy is lighting. However, the energy coaches found that 63 percent of the homes they visited were still using outdated incandescent lightbulbs.
In contrast, LED light bulbs use 75 percent less energy and last 25 times longer than standard incandescent bulbs. In the last year, empower has provided 250 LED bulbs to 160 local residents, equating to an annual savings of 6,000 kWh.
Additional statistics about emPower Central Coast’s first year (July 2014-June 2015) as a Tri-County program are listed below:
- Hosted, presented or exhibited at 133 educational outreach events
- Increased number of interest individuals contacting the program three-fold over 2013-2014
- Increase in the number of completed projects by 36 percent
- Reached $2 million in emPower loan applications received to date
- recruited 18 new contractors
- Conducted 17 contractor trainings
- Doubled social media reach
“We hope all of our Central Coast communities will be proud of the increased levels of program interest and participation we’ve generated with the emPower program expansion,” said Angie Hacker, emPower Program Manager. “We continue to appreciate the support from external funding sources like local utility companies and the California Energy Commission for making the expansion possible, and we intend to keep delivering on our track record of innovation and positive impact.”
About emPower Central Coast Program
The emPower program offers voluntary incentives, financing and other services to help single-family homeowners in Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties make home energy upgrades easier and more affordable. EmPower was originally established by Santa Barbara County to help the community preserve the environment by helping to lower energy consumption and stimulate the economy by creating jobs through innovative, voluntary solutions to support a sustainable building performance market.
EmPower is funded by California utility ratepayers and administered by Southern California Gas Company, Southern California Edison Company and Pacific Gas and Electric Company under the auspices of the California Public Utilities Commission, the US Department of Energy Better Buildings program and the California Energy Commission with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act dollars.
EmPower’s low cost financing is offered in partnership with Coast Hills Credit Union and Ventura County Credit Union.
For more information, visit www.empowersbc.org.
—Angela Pacheco represents emPower.