Nailing It Down — New grant helps Harborites save money, feel warmer in their homes, businesses


Have you felt the chill? It’d be hard not to notice this cold stretch we’re having!

Two weeks ago we talked about what to do for your house in the cold. Last week we discussed preparing your home for windy weather.

Today we’ve got some more great solutions for each!

Enter Greater Grays Harbor, Inc., the new organization that emerged when the Grays Harbor Chamber of Commerce and the Economic Development Council combined forces last year.

Thanks to a grant from Washington State University, for a short time — now through June — Greater Grays Harbor, Inc, is the go-to place to receive great deals on saving energy and money! Not to mention making your home or office feel more comfortable!

The program offers an enhanced energy audit, rebates, and even help finding contractors through the partnership with Grays Harbor PUD. Cascade Natural Gas customers can get a modified audit for the same cost, but without a rebate for the test, at this time.

“A lot of people are interested in weatherizing their homes to save money on energy bills, but don’t know what kinds of improvements they need to make to get the greatest benefit,” said Rick Jackson, GGHI’s new energy specialist.

We met with him last week and are excited how helpful he and this program will be for folks in Grays Harbor.

“With the HomePLUS energy audits, we can use a thermal imagining camera to find exactly where the problem areas are and how to fix them, which saves on your energy bills. When you add in the rebates you can get for the work, you’re saving even more money,” Jackson said.

In addition to the partnership with the Grays Harbor PUD Energy Conservation, this program also includes the ability to access weatherization and equipment rebates from Cascade Natural Gas.

So, to be clear, if you — as a home owner or business owner — call Rick Jackson at Greater Grays Harbor Inc., at 532-7888, he can set you up for an energy audit.

Whether you’re electric or gas heated, an expert from the PUD would then come to your home or business and use a thermal imaging camera to determine where your house or business is losing energy. (The fee for the enhanced energy audit is $95, but is waived for electrically heated buildings if you make some of the suggested changes. Electrically heated clients can ask for an energy audit without the camera free of charge.)

With the information in hand from the audit, you would be given suggestions on how to best solve heat loss issues or equipment upgrades.

Some of the problems can be solved with a $5 can of foam or caulking, he said.

“There’s definitely ways for homeowners to tighten up their homes on their own, but it’s always important to know what you need to fix.”

After the audit, if you decide to take steps toward remedying the situation, you would work with Jackson to find contractors qualified to do the work and what rebates might be available.

Some of the rebates include money back for insulation, windows, HVAC systems, tankless water heaters, ductless mini split heat pump, gas furnaces, gas run boilers, refrigerators, driers, dishwashers and clothes washers, Jackson said, adding that many appliances are on sale right now, which would add to your savings.

In addition, low-interest loans are available to help you get the work done. We at NeighborWorks make lots of energy conservation loans, so be sure to call if you need our help!

One additional extra that this program includes is an EPS Scorecard that will be sent to your home. “It’s kind of like an mpg statement for your home based on the best case scenario for your particular house,” explained Jackson.

“It breaks your energy usage (pre-upgrade and post-upgrade) down for you in an easy-to-understand way. It also lets you know what the ‘Return on Investment’ is for each retrofit and how much money you’re saving per year,” he said. We call it a payback and comfort for less!

CONTRACTORS WANTED

Not only will this program update and tighten up our local housing stock and buildings, it should also provide work for our local contractors.

“Because this is a program to spur not only energy savings but jobs, it’s critical for contractors who are not approved by the PUD, who are interested in this work to get the necessary certifications,” Jackson said. “We have a strong ‘Shop the Harbor First’ ethic at Greater Grays Harbor, and we want to see this market develop here,” he said.

So, contractors, if you are experienced in any kinds of weatherization measures – from installing heat pumps and insulation to duct testing and sealing – contact Rick at Greater Grays Harbor Inc., or the PUD to get certified to do some of this work.

FOR MORE INFORMATION

For more information about this great program or to schedule an energy audit, call Rick Jackson at (360) 532-7888 or (360) 538-6347.

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 opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828, or 1-866-533-7828, or visit us at 710 E. Market St. in Aberdeen.