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Energy efficiency can bring rebates for homeowners

Maybe you’ve turned the thermostat down. Maybe you’ve put on an extra pair of socks, or you wear a sweater around the house. And maybe, as a result, you’ve seen some savings in your energy bill.

But a new state program might help you see even more savings, if you’re willing to go through certain steps. It’s called the energy rebate program, and it promises between $4,000 and $10,000 to homeowners who agree to make homes more energy efficient.

Jimmy Ord is with the Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, which runs the program. He says for some homeowners, it might mean adding better insulation, or making sure the house keeps its heat inside.

“And then a lot of times it’s the heating unit,” he said. “My home — I have a home that I purchased in Anchorage — has a 60 percent efficient boiler. Imagine if, every month, you spend $100 on your heating bill, $60 goes to heat your house and $40 goes up the chimney. So if you have an efficient unit, at maybe 95 percent efficient, $95 goes to heat your house, and only $5 goes up the chimney.”

Ord says more than 25,000 homes across Alaska have participated in the rebate and weatherization program, and they’ve seen an average of 30 percent savings on energy bills.

There is a waiting list for the rebate the program. Ord says it’s about three weeks long. Once those three weeks are done, and you’re at the top of the list, someone comes to your house to rate its energy efficiency.

“He’s going to do an inspection. He’s going to what’s called a blower door test. He puts a really big fan in the front of the house, and he turns it on and it sucks air out of the house to measure the air leakage,” Ord said. “Then he’s going to go around and check your window, your doors, insulation levels, your heating unit, and he’s going to write up a report, and he’s going to put that information into a modeling software, and he’s going to give you a list of improvements you can do to make your home more efficient. You do the improvements you want, you can afford, which ones make sense for you.”

In about 18 months, or if you’re done sooner, Ord says you get another inspection and a rating of your home’s energy efficiency. That second inspection determines how efficient the home is, and determines a homeowner’s rebate: $4,000 up to $10,000.

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