Retrofitting? LEAP on these rebates, cash incentives
On July 7 the Local Energy Alliance Program (LEAP), an independent non-profit that was formed after Charlottesville and Albemarle County were awarded a $500,000 grant from the Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance last summer, finally launched a host of programs to help people make their homes more energy efficient, including a contest that could win two people a $10,000 energy makeover.
"A livable community needs livable homes,” says Charlottesville mayor Dave Norris. “This contest and LEAP’s energy efficiency initiatives show we’re on the leading edge of energy solutions and sustainability.”
Equally attractive, however, are the rebates and incentives available to homeowners. For example, there’s a performance-based cash incentive for any retro-fit work you want to do. Increase the energy efficiency of your house by 10 percent, you get $500. Increase it by 30 percent, you get $1,500. Increase it by 40 percent”Š well, you get the picture.
You can also get a $250 cash rebate just for having an energy audit done, the first step in determining what your home might need.
The organization will also help you bundle the various rebates and incentives out there. For example, a retrofit that might include new insulation, duct sealing, replacing your electric water heater with a gas one, and upgrading your old furnace could cost you $8,500. But with LEAP’s home performance rebate and performance-based cash incentive, combined with a federal Energy Star tax credit, Charlottesville’s thermostat and gas water heater rebate, and a Virginia energy efficient appliance rebate could save you $3,700 on the job.
Rebates and incentives will be available to property owners living in the City of Charlottesville and Counties of Albemarle, Greene, Nelson, Louisa, and Fluvanna.
“Our monthly energy bills have dropped dramatically, and we expect our involvement in LEAP will help when we are ready to sell our house,” says John Tran, a resident of the Fry's Spring neighborhood in Charlottesville whose house went through a LEAP-guided retrofit this spring, “especially as the world is moving more and more green. Mostly, it feels great to know we are not wasting energy."
“LEAP is adding a million dollars in rebates, incentives, and customer support to the equation,” says Cynthia Adams, LEAP’s executive director, also pointing out that the programs will provide economic stimulus and create jobs.
What’s more, LEAP has recently partnered with the University of Virginia Community Credit Union to offer something called a “Green $ense Lending.” Basically, the Credit Union is offering low-interest rate loans to folks who want to make energy-efficient home improvements while working with LEAP.
“People know that their houses aren't functioning well. They have high energy bills and uncomfortable rooms,” says Laura Fiori of Key Green Energy, a local green energy consulting firm. “Contractors in our area have seen some difficult times and are anxious to hire their people back, get them trained, and start performing energy efficiency upgrades.”
Keep in mind: as a quasi-governmental program, there are hoops you'll have to jump through: signing up as a LEAP member, using LEAP approved contractors, getting your new energy efficiency documented, and filling out a lot of forms. Still, one of LEAP's objectives appears to be to make the process as easy as possible.
You can enter to win the $10,000 Home Energy Makeover Contest online at www.cvillesaves.org or mail an entry form to Charlottesville Home Energy Makeover, 401 E. Water Street, Charlottesville, VA 22902. You can also call LEAP at 434-227-4666 for further information about the contest or their energy saving programs.