One essential step in reducing our output of climate pollution is ensuring that we use energy efficiently – steps like sealing cracks, installing insulation or replacing old furnaces in our homes can all add up to significant energy savings.
One exciting program that is just getting off the ground is the Community Power Works (CPW) program in Seattle. With funding from the Department of Energy, CPW is helping central and southeast Seattle residents and businesses make energy-saving improvements to their homes and buildings. Similar programs have launched in Bellingham, Spokane, the Kitsap Peninsula, and Lewis and Thurston Counties.
So far, hundreds of Seattleites have started the process of upgrading their homes to be more energy efficient. They’re cutting back on their energy use by 15 to 45 percent. Even hospitals and businesses are taking advantage of the opportunity. CPW is encouraging both home and business owners to be energy efficient and environmentally conscious by offering guidance and financial incentives for upgrades. The results are new jobs, lower energy bills for owners, and cleaner air for everyone.
Joshua Curtis with Community Power Works says the program is helping people understand where energy comes from and how energy use impacts the environment. He says CPW has “worked with our City, contractor, financial, and community partners to develop a ‘one stop shop’ approach for single family owners. Homeowners have access to low-cost home energy assessments, financing and rebates, and an approved contractor pool.” The program launched in April 2011, and 300 homeowners have already signed up. CPW hopes to upgrade 2000 homes over the next two years.
But how does it work? As a homeowner, you schedule a home energy assessment. A contractor completes a comprehensive analysis of your house, looking at insulation, windows, appliances, and airflows. This helps determine your “Energy Performance Score,” a reflection of the energy efficiency of the building. You also receive recommendations for where efficiency could be improved – anything from preventing air leakage to replacing aging hot water heaters.
With the help of CPW Energy Experts, you decide what upgrades you want, as well as discuss available rebates and incentives to lower costs. Once the work is complete, the Experts will tell you how much energy you’re saving and how the improvements will reduce energy bills, saving money over time. The idea is to make reducing your carbon footprint as easy and affordable as possible.
For home and business owners, the CPW program means lower energy bills, higher building values, and better quality of life. Upgraded homes should be more comfortable: less drafty and less prone to extreme temperatures in summer and winter. But investment in energy efficiency has much broader payoffs. By cutting back on our energy needs, we eliminate the need for costly new power plants and protect our priceless natural resources. By making their homes a little “greener,” Seattle residents are helping secure a healthier environment for everyone.