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With Our Help

Homeowners
Can Save up to
30 Percent on Energy Bills

Lee A. Soloman
By Lee A. Solomon
President, New Jersey
Board of Public Utilities
Handheld Infrared camera can locate air leaks

New Jersey municipal leaders can help residents who are tired of paying high home energy bills by directing them to New Jersey’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program, which can save homeowners up to 30 percent on energy costs, while increasing the comfort, safety and durability of their homes.

Whether a home is old or new, residential efficiency issues like low-quality windows and doors, poor insulation and ventilation, old heating and cooling systems, air leaks and leaky ducts waste money. These conditions can lead to bigger problems like poor indoor air quality and even structural damage.

Through this program, contractors certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI) assess homes from top to bottom, identifying areas where homeowners can save energy and money. A contractor will evaluate a home’s insulation and air infiltration levels, heating and cooling equipment efficiency, appliances and lighting, as well as test ovens, water heaters and other equipment to make sure dangerous combustion gases like carbon monoxide are not leaking into the home.

Launched statewide in 2006, the program has grown steadily. More than 2,100 New Jersey homeowners signed up for an assessment last year and more than 1,100 Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® projects were completed in 2009 alone.

To help make the program more accessible, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU), through New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program™, now offers a host of financial incentives to help New Jersey residents pay for a home energy assessment and energy-saving improvements completed through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program.

Customers can receive the following services* to make their homes more energy efficient:
Visual Inspection of the Home and Combustion Appliance Testing Customers pay $125 for a whole house energy assessment. If a minimum of $2,000 worth of energy saving enhancements is completed within three months of the assessment date, the initial $125 is reimbursed.

Subsidized Air Sealing Visit If no health and safety issues are found, and air sealing opportunities are identified during the home assessment, customers will be offered, at no cost to them, up to $1,000 worth of air sealing work to be completed during a second visit to the home. During the visit, contractors will use a blower door to measure air infiltration throughout the home and seal leaky areas. If health and safety issues are identified, customers can proceed with the air sealing work after those problems have been resolved.

Additional Energy Efficiency Measures Zero interest loans and up to $10,000 in cash back are available to customers who qualify and choose to install additional air sealing measures and eligible improvements, such as insulation, high efficiency heating and cooling equipment, and ENERGY STAR qualified appliances and lighting. The work must be performed by participating contractors. Income-qualified customers may be eligible for increased incentives of 75 percent cash back, up to $10,000. Restrictions apply.

A blower door test measures the amount of air leaking out of a home.

Because of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the BPU has made additional Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® incentives available to customers who use oil and propane as heating fuel and to customers of the 10 municipal electric utilities located throughout the state. These municipalities and utilities are Butler, Lavallette, Madison, Milltown, Park Ridge, Pemberton, Seaside Heights, South River, Sussex Rural Electric Cooperative and Vineland.

Garden State residents may also be eligible to receive up to $10,000 and a zero-interest loan based on the estimated heating savings of the improvement package they choose to install. The zero percent loans are available through a collaborative effort between New Jersey’s Clean Energy Program and Elizabethtown Gas, New Jersey Natural Gas and South Jersey Gas, who are funding the zero interest loans for customers in their territories.

Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) customers who are located within the utility’s 25 Urban Enterprise Zones (UEZs) may benefit from financial incentives PSE&G offers for energy-efficient upgrades through its own Residential Whole House Efficiency Program. PSE&G customers located within UEZ territories should contact PSE&G first regarding the Residential Whole House Program. PSE&G customers located in non-UEZ territories are eligible to participate in New Jersey’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program.

For more information about Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® or a list of BPI accredited contractors, visit NJCleanEnergy.com or call 866-NJSMART (866-657-6278).

*Program incentives may change at any time

This article appeared in New Jersey Municipalities, Volume 87, Number 5, May 2010

 

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