There are a number of ways to plan and create energy-efficient housing in the CONNECT region. Funding options for energy efficient housing include simple do-it-yourself actions, individual incentives and rebates through our local utility companies, grants, and low-cost loans, as well as on a larger scale through CDBG, HOME Grant Programs, U.S. Department of Energy formula grants, and federal tax credits.
Why is this important to your community?
Utility bills are often a large part of the overall housing costs for a household and make up part of the equation that determines if a household is cost-burdened (i.e., spending 30% or more of income on housing). The average North Carolina resident spends just over $3,700 a year and in South Carolina spends almost $4,500 a year on energy costs, according to the EIA state 2012 expenditures estimates. In addition, the percentage of cost-burdened households in the region increased for both homeowners and renters between 2000 and 2011, in part due to rising energy costs. Residential buildings are large energy consumers that impact our overall air quality. In 2013, 40% of the total U.S. energy consumption was expended in residential and commercial buildings. By reducing overall energy consumption, we can begin to improve air quality and reduce energy costs in our region, in addition to reducing the cost burden on homeowners and renters, while increasing their comfort levels.
What priorities does it address?
What other tools are related?
- Energy Management Plans for Public Buildings
- Indoor Air Quality Improvement
How does it work?
Creating new energy-efficient housing begins at the planning stage, and can involve everything from siting a home to ensuring that naturally-cooler rooms are located on the sunnier sides of the property, for example. Landscaping that incorporates deciduous trees that shade in the summer but let sunlight in in the winter is also an important energy-efficiency feature that’s low-cost. Other techniques and practices can help consumers of not only new homes, but older homes as well. These may include simple, no-cost practices that any homeowner can do—not setting heavy items on attic insulation that compresses it and reduces its insulation power, for example! Other energy-saving activities can include low-cost things such as sealing ducts, or higher-cost retrofits with more energy-efficient heating and cooling solutions. But is there help for individuals and builders who want to champion energy efficiency?
Funding programs for energy efficiency improvements are available through a number of sources including individual incentives and rebates from local utility companies, grants, and low-cost loans, as well as on a larger scale through CDBG and HOME Grant Programs and the U.S. Department of Energy formula grants. A few communities have used bond sales or a local tax to expand the use of renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. For existing homeowners, a local municipality or utility company typically administers funding incentives or offers low-cost energy efficiency audits to residential or commercial customers. In addition, there are several federal tax credit programs available. Since 2011, taxpayers have been able to apply for a personal tax credit for home energy efficiency improvements to the building envelope (e.g., doors, windows) and HVAC equipment. There is also a residential renewable energy tax credit good for up to 30% of the cost of eligible renewable technologies. For new construction, federal tax credits are available to homebuilders that construct new energy efficient homes achieving 50% energy savings for heating and cooling over the 2006 International Energy Conservation Code and supplements. Communities can provide education and promotional materials to residents to increase participation in available energy efficiency funding programs.
- NEPDEER Report
- US Department of Energy Residential Buildings Integration
- Include “practices” resources written for consumers or at a consumer level…will be very helpful for local governments or others wanting to promote home energy efficiency
- Financial Incentives for North Carolina
- Financial Incentives for South Carolina
- North Carolina Energy Efficiency Alliance
- Federal Tax Credits for Energy Efficiency
- Home Energy Audits
- Home Energy Rating System (HERS) Index
- Energy Star
- Home Energy Assessments
Ready to get started?
Using the Tool
- Meet with local utility representatives to better understand existing programs, programs in development, and long-range goals for energy efficiency in the residential sector.
- Set up an ongoing means of communication between the local government or COG and the local utilities to increase understanding of community needs and available programs.
- Encourage local utilities to track and publicize the success of the program, e.g., number of kWh consumed/saved, dollar amount of annual rebates, etc.
- Provide up-to-date educational material to your community that includes links to existing incentive programs and tax rebate information. This can take the form of a dedicated resource page on the community’s website and/or be included in printed materials. Share resources through social media, at libraries and community centers, through HOAs and rental organizations, and in schools.
- Consider municipal incentives for energy efficient improvements. Incentives may be large or small (e.g., low-cost sale of energy efficient light bulbs, no-interest loans for energy improvements, or grants). Funding for local programs can come from voter approved bonds or another grant source.
- Consider providing resources, best practices, and related strategies to planning and building inspection departments and energy code councils, HOAs, home builders, developers, lending agencies etc. to incorporate these ideas into neighborhood planning as the developments are conceived and designed.
- Provide educational and marketing support for the program, such as information about available incentives as part of new resident and business brochures, websites, social media, inserts in newsletters, homeowners’ associations communications, augmented coordination with the Multiple Listing Service in the region, and information available throughout the community’s service agencies.
- Offer policy support for the program as needed.
- Advocacy Groups
- Community Development Organizations
- Elected Officials
Where has it worked?
About the Program
Duke Energy offers an incentive program for homeowners interested in reducing energy costs through new HVAC equipment, insulation, and heat pump water installation. The program requires participants work with participating contractors and complete improvements before receiving a cash rebate by mail. In the first year of the program, Duke Energy reported that the actual energy saved by its customers was more than 2 times projected and the cost to the company was less than expected. Residential customers are also eligible for a free energy audit through the Home Energy House call program.
Why it works
Energy rebate programs are a simple way for customers to understand the benefits of reducing energy use in the form of a rebate and reductions in energy bills. Rebate programs are widely used across the country and directly tie personal cost savings to energy reductions. They also benefit utility companies by helping to manage day to day energy demand and reduce overall peak energy demand.Image Source: TC Palm.
Solar and Energy Loan Fund Office
About the Program
St. Lucie County, located along the eastern cost of Florida, created the Solar and Energy Loan Fund (SELF) program with seed money from state and federal grants with the intention that SELF would operate independently and not as part of county government. SELF is a nonprofit lending institution with a social mission, to provide low-cost financing so that residents can complete energy-efficiency improvements. The program is now transitioning from a revolving loan fund to a Community Development Financial Institution.
Why it works
As of 2012, SELF has completed more than $1.2 million in loans to more than 150 property owners. Options for energy efficiency improvements range from weatherization to solar thermal and solar PV systems. Because the upfront costs are minimal and the loan terms are favorable, SELF has been successful in eliminating financing as one of the biggest barriers confronting property owners interested in making energy efficiency improvements. In addition, the program has stimulated the local economy by creating jobs for local contractors specializing in renewable energy and other related fields. Energy rebate programs are a simple way for customers to understand the benefits of reducing energy use in the form of a rebate and reductions in energy bills. Rebate programs are widely used across the country and directly tie personal cost savings to energy reductions. They also benefit utility companies by helping to manage day to day energy demand and reduce overall peak energy demand.