More Maryland homeowners will be able to participate in the state's Home Performance Rebate Program, after Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown announced that the Maryland Energy Administration has allotted an additional $850,000 in funding for the energy-efficiency program.
Brown's announcement came Thursday morning from the lawn outside the home of Julie Ainsworth and her husband, Tom Wachs, of University Park, who recently had their home audited for energy upgrades through the .
University Park created the STEP-UP Program, a town-wide energy efficiency initiative, after receiving a $1.4 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy last summer. Through the program, town residents can get energy upgrades for their homes, like new Energy Star appliances or insulation with the help of energy coach Suzanne Parmet and the program's list of recommended contractors, for free.
In addition to the help, residents can take advantage of the state and federal rebates, though the Home Performance Rebate Program and Pepco.
Brown said the program offers up to a 35 percent rebate from the program, plus an additional 15 percent from Maryland utility companies.
“Governor O’Malley and I are focused on efforts to protect our natural resources and make Maryland a leader in energy innovation,” Brown said. “By investing in home energy efficiency, we are helping Marylanders save money through lower electricity bills, protecting our environment through reduced energy demand and stimulating millions of dollars in private investment in our growing innovation economy."
Ainsworth and Wachs of 4004 College Heights Drive received their $100 audit through Delaware-based Energy Service Group and will begin the retrofitting of their new insulation for their attic and ceiling in the coming days.
So far, the state's program has helped nearly 1,000 Marylanders make upgrades to their homes with the average rebate of $1,529. It is funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and Brown said the additional funds were made available by savings in administrative costs.
Congresswoman Donna Edwards (D-Dist.4) also spoke at the press conference, where she said the Ainsworth-Wachs home was an example of when common-sense ideas and strategies mix with new technologies to create benefits for homeowners and save them money.
"I think sometimes homeowners are quite overwhelmed about what that task is and about how they can save and the investment that it takes," Edwards said. "This is a perfect example of the role in which the federal government can come in as a partner with a state and local community, and with our utility and business sectors, and make a difference in one neighborhood."
The state's program can be used to hire a Maryland Home Performance contractor to complete a number of upgrades, including:
- whole-house air sealing
- duct replacement
- and insulation of walls, attics, crawl spaces and basements.
On Thursday, James Otterbacher of Energy Services Group demonstrated how they checked the Ainsworth-Wachs' home for leaks, with a blower they set up by the front door and a thermal energy detector.
Otterbacher said a crew of four can complete an audit and then give the homeowners a better idea of some upgrades they can do themselves or contract out.
In addition to the rebates, homeowners can also receive financial assistance by applying for unsecured home energy improvement loans for up to $20,000 at 6.99 percent.