Spend less money heating your house


Did you feel a bit of a chill at points this winter? Would you like to feel more comfortable in your home and save money at the same time?

Then, perhaps you’d like to investigate the energy audits and rebate programs available through the Grays Harbor PUD and Greater Grays Harbor Energy (a division of Greater Grays Harbor, Inc.).

We wrote about this program about a year ago, talking with Anna Woehler, energy services coordinator at the PUD, and Rick Jackson, energy program coordinator with Greater Grays Harbor Energy. We checked back in with these two this week and learned that not only have they had a busy year helping Harbor homes and businesses, but also that the energy audits and many of the rebates are still available.

“If you haven’t taken advantage of our energy efficiency incentives, it’s not too late,” said Anna. “The rebates help to offset the cost of upgrading your home. You’ll be more comfortable and lower your energy bills at the same time.”

“We’ve performed 75 HomePLUS Energy Evaluations this year,” said Rick. “And after the changes, those people are saving an average of $450 a year. It has exceeded our expectations and people are still signing up for them too.”

START BY CHECKING IN

Before we get too much further we want to emphasize that before you go out and buy insulation, a heat pump or new windows, call either Anna or Rick!

It would be a shame if you lost out on rebate money or spent money on something you didn’t need because you didn’t comply with the easy rules.

Because they work closely together, either place will get you to what you need. To get a hold of Anna and her coworkers at the Energy Service Dept. of the PUD, call 538-6383. To reach Rick at Greater Grays Harbor, Inc., call 532-7888.

ENERGY AUDITS AVAILABLE

The HomePLUS Energy Evaluations are still available and are likely where you will be directed. They cost just $95 out of pocket, and include thermal imagining of your home. (Greater Grays Harbor Energy pays the other $200 through a grant they have.)

“It’s a very thorough process that takes three or four hours,” said Anna. “That audit would cost $400 to $500 in other areas. When we’re done you end up with an energy performance score with all the measures that will save you money.”

“One of the energy advisors will go to your house, perform the diagnostic testing and produce a 17-page report,” Rick said.

“We then will follow up with you and guide you through the process. We’ll get you in contact with the contractors, set you up for rebates. And, if loans or financing is what you need, we can help show you the way with that to,” he said.

“People are really impressed with the knowledgeable energy advisors,” Rick said. “Most people think they know so much about their house, but then the energy advisor comes and can ‘see through the walls.’”

After the audit, the energy advisor can determine what sorts of things might be helpful – perhaps the answer is as simple as more caulking around windows and doors or making sure to shut the fireplace damper. Other help could include adding insulation to the walls, ceiling or floor, or perhaps sealing the ductwork or installing a new heat pump.

Ironically, putting insulation everywhere and making your home super tight could be a drawback.

“One of the things I’ve learned is how to think of a house as a system,” Rick said. “If you make any changes in the building, it changes how the building can breathe, so to speak.

“You don’t want to have indoor pollution, or trap moisture inside or you end up with a mold problem. You want to have your house inhale and exhale, but only a certain amount,” he said.

That’s why the expertise of an energy advisor and all the technical tests are so helpful.

For energy efficiency measures, loans are available through Great Northwest Federal Credit Union at just 2.9 percent annual interest. (That low rate is subsidized by Greater Grays Harbor Energy.)

In addition, we here at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor are available to help with the process. If, after the Energy Audit, you decide you do want a new heat pump or insulation or windows, we offer Fee for Service Construction Management Oversight of the project. This service is included with our Home Improvement Loan program and much more than just weatherization can be done. You can give us a call at 533-7828

REBATES, BUSINESSES NEXT

We’ve already run out of space for today. Next week we’ll come back to this topic and discuss specific rebate amounts for everything from insulation to heat pumps. Also, there are small rebates available for energy-efficient appliances.

For those of you who have a business in Grays Harbor, we’ll talk a little about the energy audits available for businesses as well.

In the meantime, make sure to give Anna or Rick a call if you’d like to look into the HomePLUS audit.

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks® of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, write us or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.

 

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