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Your Story: Homeowner navigates the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program

Your Story: Homeowner navigates the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program
Interested in lowering your home’s energy bill?  Take advantage of your utilities’ Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program.  If you are new to this program, view our recent blog on the steps to apply. Read Julia Kalloz story below for an in-depth look at the program. 


The cover of your Energy Audit Report

Homeowner Julia Kalloz walked us through her experience with Home Performance with ENERGY STAR.

Julia lives in a Pepco service territory so she began the process by finding a contractor from the PEPCO website of specially trained, Building Performance Institute-certified contractors.

“You are able to see what certifications and experience they have and that was important to me,” Kalloz said. “It allowed me to vet several auditors and even find out what other people experienced.”

The audit cost $100 (a saving of $300) and, Kalloz said, it is easy to schedule. It took about an hour, but appointments can take a little more or less time, depending on the size of the house (most last between 2- 4 hours).

During the visit, simple and free incentives to help homeowners start saving energy immediately are provided.  The incentives include LED bulbs, water heater pipe wraps, showerheads and showerhead adapters, as well as faucet aerators and power strips.

The contractor also looked at ways to reduce air leakage from Kalloz’s home by evaluating her large appliances, conducting a blower door test to evaluate air loss and a combustion test to see how efficiently the heating system was operating.

Ten days later, Kalloz received a Prioritized List of Measurements – or a PLOM (a report detailing the improvements needed to cut home energy usage and what the potential savings could be) – that had been generated from the audit. Some of the contractor’s recommendations might not be in a homeowner’s budget, but the potential for long-term savings as well as the up to $7,500 PEPCO offers in rebates offer important incentives.


Getting Home Improvement Rebates

Estimated Annual Energy Savings

Once you decide which solutions are the most feasible for your home and your budget, the contractor will have you sign a proposal for the improvements and the PLOM before reserving the rebates on your behalf. Once the rebate reservation is approved, homeowners have 60 days to complete whichever improvements they choose.

For Kalloz, improvements included air sealing and insulation in the attic and basement.

After the work was  done, part two of the audit – called a Test Out – is done to determine the final energy savings and rebate. When Kalloz’ auditor did hers, a post air sealing test was done which showed less air leakage from the home.

Next, the contractor submits the application to PEPCO within 30 days of the installation and the homeowner’s rebate check arrives six to eight weeks later.

“I recommend doing the things that are affordable first,” Kalloz, who was able to get about 50% of what she spent on improvements back via the rebates, said. “Do what makes financial sense for you. Even if they are not big dollar improvements, they still make a difference and they are important.”

Even after waiting a few months once her audit was done to begin the improvement process, she said the air sealing and installation installed made a drastic difference in the drafts – and her PEPCO bill went down, too.

Written by Kimberly Hodges and Felicia Hodges

County resident receives the Presidential GreenGov sustainability hero award

County resident receives the Presidential GreenGov sustainability hero award

Congrats Ed!

In late November, the Obama Administration announced the recipients of the GreenGov Presidential Awards, which celebrates extraordinary achievement in the pursuit of President Obama’s Federal Sustainability goals. They honor Federal civilian and military personnel, agency teams, agency projects, facilities, and programs that exemplify President Obama’s charge to lead by example. County resident, Ed Murtagh, was the recipient of the Sustainability Hero Award!
Ed Murtagh Photo


As the Sustainable Operations Manager at the United States Department of Agriculture’s headquarters in D.C., Ed has created Green Teams, engaged senior leadership, developed outreach and education programs, and promoted an overall culture of sustainability throughout the agency. In addition, his efforts have resulted in the reduction of use of electricity, water, and steam; higher rates of waste diversion; greener infrastructure; increased use of environmentally preferable products; and meeting many sustainability goals, including achieving an Energy Star score of 99 at USDA’s headquarters building. The White House announced eight awards in seven different categories to individuals and teams. These honorees exemplify our Federal workforce’s commitment to meeting the President’s directive to create a clean energy economy that will increase our Nation’s prosperity, promote energy security, protect the interests of taxpayers, combat climate change, and safeguard the health of our environment.  
DEP staff on a USDA solar tour

Ed took Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection staff on a tour of the USDA solar facility.

  Along with the amazing work Ed has done to green the USDA, he is also a green leader in the community.  He is a GreenWheaton founding member and current President who has lived in Wheaton for 20 years.  He is also a member of the Friends of Sligo Creek and the Neighbors of Northwest Branch through which he encourages homeowners to manage their onsite stormwater management. Logo of GreenWheaton   Thank you Ed for all the work you do to make our County and Country a greener, healthier place to live.  

Elliott’s easy environmental tips

Elliott’s easy environmental tips
The environment is essential to our well-being. The water, land, and air contain the resources necessary for us to live, grow, and thrive. But, nothing is unlimited. This is why we must live sustainably- making the most of today while creating opportunities for tomorrow- and being conscious of our actions.   I’m Elliott, DEP’s new sustainability intern, and I have created the following easy tips to help you “Go Green”:

Elliott’s 1st Tip: Unplug Unusued Chargers & Turn Off Unused Electronics

We use energy in each part of out daily lives, which means that we each have the potential to make an impact from our own homes. Did you know that chargers plugged into the wall, even when no device is attached, will continue to use energy? Whenever I tell my friends, they are very surprised. Once my phone finishes charging, I make sure to remove the charger from the outlet too. It is also important to turn off electronics when they are not being used. When you finish watching TV or using your computer, make sure to power the device down. Similarly, when you leave a room, it is always a great idea to turn off the lights.   The Kill A Watt has no charger or device attached  

Elliott’s 2nd Tip: Take the Metro or Carpool With Others

When you drive a car, it emits large amounts of Carbon Dioxide, a gas that is a major contributor to climate change. We need to find a solution that gets everyone where they need to be without excessively polluting the air. When traveling around Washington D.C., try taking the metro into and around the city instead of taking a car. You will avoid a lot of traffic, likely save time, and limit your carbon footprint. When public transportation is not provided, look to create carpools with family or friends to reduce the number of cars on the road. When I am going to events for my youth organization, I frequently offer other members rides so they or their parents do not have to drive too.  

Elliott’s 3rd Tip: Turn Off the Faucet & Fix Water Leaks

When someone asks you “What is something you can’t survive without?,” the first answer that comes to mind is likely water. Although 70% of the Earth’s surface is covered by water, only about 1% of it is in the form we need to use it, freshwater as a liquid. Hence, water is scarce across the US, not just along the West Coast. After washing my hands, I make sure to turn off the faucet fully to avoid continuous dripping. Also, when I see a water fountain that continues to flow when not being used, I will let someone know so they can fix it. This action may save gallons of water in a single day, and solves the problem moving forward.   A man holding an "I protect the environment by" sign with "Conserving water H20=Life" written in. This picture was taken at the Montgomery County Green Fest  

Elliott’s 4th Tip: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

The “Three R’s”- reduce, reuse, and recycle- are a good guideline to abide by. To reduce, cut back on how often you buy goods, or their packaging, that will end up in a landfill. To reuse, simply buy more products that can be used more than once. Rather than purchasing packs of dozens of plastic water bottles, my family chooses reusable ones instead. Try to purchase silverware and containers that do not have to be thrown away after being used, which will not help the environment and your wallet. Recycling may seem like an extraneous task, but it is worth the extra few seconds. Check what number is on the bottom of your non-reusable plastics to see if it can be recycled. In Montgomery County, many types are recycled, including bottles (1-5, 7), containers (1-5, 7 except those labeled biodegradable or compostable), Tupperware™ or Rubbermaid™ containers and lids, flower cups (1-5, 7), and beverage cups. Plus, papers, metals, and other materials can often be recycled too. For convenience, my family has a paper recycling bag inside our house, so we only have to transfer the paper to the larger bin on recycling day. Plus, I keep plastic bags to give every few months to local grocery stores which recycle them.   Two sided graphic with one side of a polluted city saying "Don't throw it away" with the other side showing a beautiful nature scene saying "Recycle every day"  

Elliott’s 5th Tip: Advocate for the Environment at Any Age

Although I am not old enough to vote, I have been able to take part in environmental advocacy. I have added my email to many Environmental Non-Profit organizations’ distribution lists to receive frequent policy and initiative updates. I spend time each day reading and signing onto some of the organizations’ petitions that I believe in. I recommend that you find some eco-friendly groups that you support, and sign up to get updates from them. You’re never too early, or too late, to start learning about and advocating for the environment.   Group of people smiling behind a rain garden

Together, Let’s Go Green!

Being an environmental advocate is not easy. Convenience and cost-effectiveness are always in the back of our minds, and it may be hard to change the status quo. But, green solutions become easier and cheaper in the long run, and make the world a better place each step of the way. Make sure to spread the word, and together, let’s go green!   By Elliott Davis, Senior at Wootton High School in Rockville Intern at the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection

Waste not? Not quite – Attempting a day without waste

Waste not? Not quite – Attempting a day without waste
The U.S. is known for producing blockbuster films, fast food and a really insane amount of trash. We make up less than 5% of the world’s population yet generate 15-20% of its waste. Bottom line? The average U.S. citizen produces 2,076 pounds of trash per year. Whether you blame it on our affinity for consumption, the built-to-break approach to modern manufacturing or our never-ending quest for convenience, it’s clear that our habits are far from sustainable. In an effort to reassess our personal contributions to this gargantuan problem, The Pegs (The staff at Roundpeg Benefit LLC) decided to follow in the footsteps of fellow B Corp Sustrana and try for A Day Without Waste. To participate, we all kept track of what we reused, recycled and threw away. Continue reading →

Saving energy in condominiums

Saving energy in condominiums
Nicholas is a four-year-old lad in a family of first-generation Bolivian Americans. One of Nicholas’s favorite activities has been standing in the shower for an endless amount of time… until Glen Waye installed “shower coaches” in every unit.  (These are simply egg timers in the middle of a “stop sign” that are placed in the showers. When folks shower, they turn the egg timer one direction, and when the sand runs out, so does one’s time in the shower.) Continue reading →