FAQ

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Residential Program Information and FAQs

Scroll down or click on one of these topics to learn about the residential program.

The Home Energy Assessment

What happens in a home energy assessment?

What deliverables will I receive after the assessment?

I had my home energy assessment; now what?

What are some common recommendations for home energy efficiency?

I already know what energy efficiency work needs to be done on my home. Do I have to get an assessment?

Getting the Work Done

Once I get my list of recommendations, how do I decide which ones to complete?

Can I take the assessment to my own contractors?

Does the Community Energy Challenge provide quality assurance?

Benefits for Participants

Will my energy savings really make a difference?

Will getting an energy assessment alone help reduce my energy costs?

Does the CEC contribute financial incentives to reduce the cost of my project?

Are there incentives for installing water saving appliances?

Is there financing available for my project?

Participation Details

How do I sign up?

Who is eligible to be part of the program?

When can I get an energy assessment?

How much will an energy assessment cost?

Can I participate if I am renting or if I own rental property?

The Home Energy Assessment
What happens in a home energy assessment?

An energy assessment from the One Stop Energy Shop will help you address home comfort issues and reveal opportunities to lower your energy bills through insulation, air sealing and other proven measures. Some common parts of the assessment process include:
Examining the exterior of the house.
Conducting a blower door test (a blower door is a large fan that fits inside an exterior door and measures the amount of air leakage in the house).
Identifying areas of heat loss with thermal imaging equipment.
Examining the furnace, ductwork, and heating system function.
Evaluating the hot water system.
Checking insulation levels in the basement or crawlspace, walls, and attic.
Checking combustion safety for gas and wood burning appliances and identifying any health concerns.
Addressing moisture and ventilation issues.
Evaluating the efficiency of doors and windows.

What deliverables will I receive after the assessment?

A report detailing how efficient your home currently is and where there is room for improvement. This will include a list of recommendations for your home, including simple, low-cost actions you can take to start saving right away and recommendations for larger home improvements that will do even more to improve comfort and reduce home energy costs.
Support from an impartial home energy advisor to help you choose cost effective recommendations and to guide you through the whole process.
Vetted contractors who are leaders in their field and specially trained in energy efficiency work to complete your projects.
Access to exclusive incentives.
Quality assurance on every recommendation you implement through the program.

I had my home energy assessment; now what?

After your home assessment is complete one of our home energy advisors will schedule a meeting to go over your recommended energy efficiency improvements. The advisor will walk you through the recommendations and clearly explain which measures are the most cost effective and help you decide which ones to complete. They will also explain all of the rebates and incentives that are available to bring down the cost of your project and help you apply for them.

After the meeting they will connect you with one of our vetted contractors who can complete the recommendations that you decided on.

 

What are some common recommendations for home energy efficiency?

Air Sealing and Duct Sealing: Air leakage allows conditioned air to escape, forcing your heating and cooling equipment to work overtime. Sealing up these holes in your home is the first step to dramatically improving energy efficiency.

Insulation: Insufficient, damaged, or poorly installed insulation can reduce the effectiveness of heating and cooling equipment. Adding attic or wall insulation where necessary can be a great way to improve a home’s energy performance.

Furnace replacement: Old, inefficient furnaces use a lot more fuel than they need to. Upgrading an old 70 or 80% efficient furnace to a new 95% efficient furnace or a heat pump can be a very effective way to reduce your heating bills and the Community Energy Challenge has special incentives for furnace upgrades.

 

I already know what energy efficiency work needs to be done on my home. Do I have to get an assessment?

Yes. The assessment is necessary to measure and quantify exactly where and how much work needs to be done in your particular home. It allows us to calculate the energy savings, payback period, and run through a variety of scenarios to see what measures or appliances are most appropriate for the house. For example, you may know that your house is drafty and needs air sealing, but the blower door test can help identify exactly how much sealing is necessary to achieve maximum comfort while maintaining good air quality. Likewise, you may have your heart set on some new windows when an assessment could reveal that new insulation would give you an even greater increase in comfort at much less cost.

There’s no substitute for a thorough energy assessment done by a professional analyst to identify which cost-effective measures will do the most to improve comfort, safety, and energy efficiency in your home, which is why it is a required part of the program and a prerequisite to qualifying for financial incentives through the CEC.

 

Getting the Work Done
Once I get my list of recommendations, how do I decide which ones to complete?

One of our home energy advisors will go over the recommendations with you and help you make an informed decision on which measures make the most sense for your home. Which recommendations you implement are entirely up to you, but we prioritize measures by cost effectiveness. So if you need insulation and air sealing, these will be recommended prior to other measures. Our incentives are tiered so that you have to complete the most cost effective recommendations first in order to access the incentives for the measures that have a longer payback. This only applies to the specific measures recommended to you.

All guidance through the program is independent from contractors to ensure that recommended improvements are carried out as cost-effectively as possible. In other words, we have nothing to gain financially by recommending certain measures and our goal is to help you come up with a plan that makes the most sense for your situation.

 

Can I take the assessment to my own contractors?

The incentives and quality assurance are only available by coordinating a project through the CEC using one of the contractors associated with the program. This is because we have vetted that they are trained to perform weatherization work that meets current standards. However, you are not obligated to move forward on any recommendations through our program and you may use your own contractor or do the work yourself, but you would not be able to access any of the program incentives and benefits.

 

Does the Community Energy Challenge provide quality assurance?

Yes. 100% of the work completed through the CEC is quality assured by professionals who operate independently of the contractors. So you know that an expert third party has reviewed the work and agrees that it meets our high standards.

 

Benefits for Participants
Will my energy savings really make a difference?

Yes! By increasing your energy efficiency you:

Save money. Weatherization can cut energy costs up to 30%!
Improve the comfort of your home
Increase the durability of your home

Increase the resale value of your home
Reduce our dependence on fossil fuels
Create green jobs and boost our local economy
Become a community leader; look smart by increasing awareness of energy efficiency so that others can reap the benefits too!

Will getting an energy assessment alone help reduce my energy costs?

Yes! An energy assessment will provide a comprehensive list of quick fix and low cost upgrades along with long-term solutions. The first steps are usually extremely easy, with little to no cost, and you can start saving right away. An assessment also gives you personalized information about how changing simple behaviors in your home can reduce energy use immediately. Direct install of CFL bulbs and low-flow shower heads and faucet aerators also may be available to you to help save energy and money.
Does the CEC contribute financial incentives to reduce the cost of my project?
Yes! The CEC offers cash incentives totaling up to 30% of your weatherization project costs in addition to helping you take advantage of utilities rebates. The CEC also matches utilities rebates on qualifying heating equipment upgrades, such as heat pumps. For more information, visit the incentives page.

 

Are there incentives for installing water saving appliances?

The Community Energy Challenge and the City of Bellingham Water Conservation Program have teamed up to offer rebates to Bellingham city water customers participating in the CEC. The rebates, up to $150, apply to certain water conserving fixtures, washing machines, drip irrigation systems, or rainwater catchment systems. They are intended to make it easier for participants to save water as they save energy and to educate about the relationship between the two.

 

Is there financing available for my project?
You have options! The Community Energy Challenge is excited to be partnering with Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union. PSCCU offers Energy Smart loans, which can be used for many household energy efficiency improvements and even renewable energy projects, such as solar panels. You can read more about PSCCU’s loan offerings here. Many CEC participants use existing lines of credit,  or turn to a relationship with a financial institution they already do business with regularly. It’s up to you.
Participation Details
How do I sign up?

To indicate your interest, fill out our online form or send your name, street address, phone number and e-mail address to communityenergychallenge@oppco.org and we’ll get back to you about scheduling an appointment. You can also call 360-676-6099. Or visit the One Stop Energy Shop 1322 N. State St, Bellingham, WA 98225.

 

Who is eligible to be part of the program?

This program is designed to serve homeowners throughout Whatcom, Skagit, San Juan, and Island Counties regardless of income level. If you are eligible for low-income weatherization services we may refer you to another organization that can better meet your needs.

 

When can I get an energy assessment?

We encourage you to sign up to be contacted about our services by filling out our online form; by e-mailing your name, address, phone number and e-mail address to communityenergychallenge@oppco.org; or by calling 360-676-6099. We will get back to you shortly with more information about the program and scheduling process.

 

How much will an energy assessment cost?

The assessment is valued at $600, but participants only pay $195.

 

Can I participate if I am renting or if I own rental property?

We can work with tenants and landlords to arrange mutually beneficial energy efficiency upgrades. However, the homeowner must be the one to sign up as an official participant, so please note that you are a landlord signing up a rental property when you submit our online form.

The Community Energy Challenge is a joint project between Sustainable Connections and the Opportunity Council

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