There’s a way to make your home more energy efficient…for free!
Did you know that there’s an organization in Montgomery County that offers safe and healthy home repairs at no cost to the recipient? There is and the organization is called Rebuilding Together Montgomery County (RTMC).
RTMC works in partnership with state and local governments, community volunteers, nonprofit service providers, and corporate partners to provide free critical home repairs, energy efficiency upgrades, and accessibility modifications to our County’s most vulnerable residents. They make repairs to homes, ranging from a small plumbing repair to a major system replacement and include weatherization and energy efficiency measures as well!
Currently, they are looking for homeowners who qualify for the Energy Efficiency Program. That includes homeowners with an income that is 50% of area median income. To find out if this is you, check out the 2017 rent and income limits chart.
The Energy Efficiency Program
The Energy Efficiency Program is designed to help those who have no other means to complete needed repairs. RTMC is working to improve the safety, warmth and security of the homes as well as to provide accessibility modifications. Repairs can include
- minor plumbing and electrical work;
- roofing, floor, wall, and ceiling repairs;
- energy efficiency and weatherization;
- some (limited) interior and exterior painting, installation of grab bars and building of ramps; or
- trash removal and yard work.
Repairs are made through RTMC’s National Rebuilding Day Program, Volunteer Handyman Program, Energy Efficiency Program, and/or Critical Needs Program. This repair work is done year-round.
Weatherization and Energy Efficiency
What does it mean to have weatherization and/or energy efficiency upgrades? There are lots of different areas that they focus on and here are some examples of what to expect if you qualify:
Home Performance with Energy Star Audit
A certified contractor will use diagnostic equipment to perform a comprehensive home energy audit and determine how improvements throughout your home can work together to maximize energy efficiency and savings. Some of these tests may include:
- A blower door test that uses the combination of pressure and airflow measurements to determine your home’s air leakage, which contributes to higher energy costs.
- Thermographic camera tests that use infrared images to assess the effectiveness of your home’s insulation, which directly affects your home’s comfort and energy efficiency performance.
- Combustion and safety testing to detect carbon monoxide and natural gas leaks.
- Verification of adequate ventilation, which is critical to reducing indoor air pollutants, moisture and odors in your home. Without proper ventilation, some household contaminants can cause health problems, while excess moisture can lead to mold growth and physical damage to your home.
Weatherization reduces energy costs for low-income households by increasing the energy efficiency of the homes while ensuring the resident’s health and safety. Some of the areas that they will address in your home may include:
- Adding insulation in the attic/crawlspace – Insulation does two important things.
- First, it provides thermal resistance. Remember that heat always tries to move to colder places unless something (like insulation) gets in the way. Insulation stops the warmth created by your furnace from escaping through your walls to the outside.
- Second, insulation makes the surfaces on both sides of a wall similar temperatures. This prevents condensation and mold from growing on the colder surface of the wall where the moisture condenses. To prevent mold, the most important thing you can do is stop condensation. Insulation does this in both winter and summer.
- Caulking of windows – Caulking windows, weather-stripping doors, and closing your chimney flue when it’s not being used are just a start. Most houses have substantial numbers of outdoor air leaks in the attic and basement. Other leaks are hidden behind walls or under siding. These leaks allow polluted air into the house, and allow heated or cooled air out of the house.
- Installation of energy efficient light bulbs – Switching out your lower-efficiency bulbs to higher-efficiency bulbs, like LEDs, mean that you will be consuming 80% less energy compared to incandescent light bulbs.
- Installation of energy efficient appliances – Every appliance comes with two price tags: the purchase price and the cost of operating the product. ENERGY STAR certified appliances help consumers save money on operating costs by reducing energy use without sacrificing performance.
- Installation of high efficiency shower-heads and faucet aerators – These upgrades will save not only water but electricity, as demands on water heaters will also go down, thereby saving energy. High-efficiency faucet aerators reduce the amount of water flowing through the tap, thus using less energy.
- Maintenance or replacement of heating/cooling systems – When you are not using hot water, your tank loses as much as 2-4 degrees of heat. One way to maintain the heat is by insulating the water heater and its pipes with insulation and pipe sleeves. Additionally making sure you are checking air filters every three months, or 90 days, will help keep your systems in good shape.
Interested in Participating?
Single family homes or townhouses with high electricity bills and old heating/cooling systems would be ideal candidates for the program. Here are some additional qualifications, they are looking for:
- Homeowner(s) who own and live in the home that will be repaired. No exceptions.
- Homeowner(s) who are current on their mortgage payments.
- Total household income must not exceed the amounts listed in this chart. Income from ALL residents in the home must be included in the total.
- Also, note that homeowners should remain in their home for at least five years following the completed repairs.