Home Energy Rebate Program
HOME ENERGY REBATE PROGRAM REACHES MILESTONE
ENERGY REBATE PROGRAM PARTICIPANTS
The Home Energy Rebate Program has been around since 2008. It has been generously supported by a total of $252.5 million from the Alaska Legislature and three Governors. The program reached a milestone in FY16 when AHFC issued a check to Brett Von Gemmingen, Anchorage, the 25,000th homeowner completing the program. Here’s his story:
Brett Von Gemmingen and his family purchased their house in South Anchorage in 1995. Originally built in the ‘80s, the home lacked proper insulation. Recently, Brett enrolled in AHFC’s Home Energy Rebate Program (HERP) looking for a solution.
“I knew this was something that would protect my home in the long run. Both my mom and brother went through the program and saw significant improvements.”
Through the program, Brett made energy-efficiency upgrades to his home, including installing a new heating system, upgrading five windows, replacing a door that wasn’t fitting properly, insulating a garage door, caulking and sealing around doors and windows and installing a vapor barrier. Energy raters also helped Brett address the poor insulation underneath the house.
“Everyone’s home is different, I had to get a good understanding of what the deficiencies were in my home and what was going to be most beneficial and cost-effective.”
- Within six months of the initial energy rating, all of the energy-efficiency improvements had been made to Brett’s home. Brett was the 25,000th recipient of the HERP, receiving a refund of $5,500 in project costs for upgrading his home from 3-star-plus to a 4-star-plus home.
“I’ve noticed a big difference in my utility bills. My family and I are able to stay comfortable through the winter at lower costs. Going through the program was absolutely worth it!”
HOME ENERGY REBATE PROGRAM LEAVES LONG LASTING LEGACY
On March 25, 2016, AHFC stopped accepting new applications for participation in the Home Energy Rebate Program. Funding is secured for Alaskans already in the program and on the waiting list. If a family signed up before March 30, 2016 program rules allow 18 months to complete the energy efficiency upgrades.
Since its inception in 2008 the program has had a substantial impact on improving quality of life and contributing to energy savings for families around the state. More than 25,000 homes have completed the program, which translates to 16 percent of all owner occupied homes.
The energy savings for the program together with the Weatherization Program is being estimated to 3.6 trillion British Thermal Units (BTUs) annually, which is equivalent to 26.2 million barrels of fuel oil.
Some key facts about the Home Energy Rebate Program at the end of FY16:
Initial ratings 40,780
Rebates paid 25,183
5 Star Plus paid 3,293
6 Star paid 211
Average rebate: $6,960
WEATHERIZATION IMPROVES QUALITY OF LIFE
AHFC’s Weatherization Program offers free health and safety improvements and energy efficiency upgrades to income-qualified applicants. Funding is prioritized for low-income seniors, families with disabilities or young children in their home. In FY16 $7.4 million was distributed to 16 service providers statewide who with the use of local hires weatherized 100 units out of 395 granted. More than 18,000 homes have benefitted from the program since its start 40 years ago. One of the homes weatherized in FY16 belongs to Sara Buma in Fairbanks. Here’s Sara’s Story:
HELPING TO KEEP ALASKANS WARM
“This program has made a world of difference for my family and the lives of so many others in need.”
(Sara Buma, participant in AHFC’s Weatherization Program)
Sarah Buma doesn’t know where she would be today if it weren’t for Alaska Housing Finance Corporation’s Interior Weatherization program. It wasn’t too long ago that she would often lose sleep wondering if her family would have to leave their home because they simply couldn’t afford to heat it.
Sarah’s husband has multiple sclerosis, a condition that’s profoundly exacerbated by change in temperature or stress. He has limited mobility, must use a wheelchair and does not have use of his hands or feet. Sarah is extremely engaged with his care and must assist him with eating, bathroom use and dressing. Since he is not able to work she supports the family financially and holds multiple jobs.
When Sarah moved into her current home, she knew it wasn’t going to be perfect. It had been foreclosed twice and was poorly insulated. But the family needed a place to quickly settle in that was wheelchair accessible. It met their immediate needs, and it was going to have to work.
Soon the Interior Alaska winter hit and it became clear that the house’s insulation was far worse than anyone knew; half of Sarah’s entire monthly earnings were going straight to heating the home. Sarah would turn the heat up as far as the thermostat would go, and still her husband was shivering under blankets. The family was sinking deeper into debt, and with medical bills piling up they were running out of options.
“We were financially coming unraveled from the burdens of energy costs compounded with medical costs.”
That’s when Sarah enrolled in the Interior Weatherization program. Once her application was approved, the weatherization team got right to work making the many necessary improvements to the home including updating the insulation in the attic, underneath the house and around the doors. The house had been losing heat from every direction.
- Since these upgrades, she’s been able to keep the thermostat at a lower temperature while staying comfortable and paying just one-third of what she was before.
“This program has made a world of difference for my family and the lives of so many others in need,” said Sarah. “My best advice to other Alaskans is to not wait – enroll as soon as possible.”
TECHNOLOGY YIELDS BIG ENERGY SAVINGS
Energy efficiency is high on AHFC’s priority list. In line with that, the corporation developed and launched a low cost building monitoring system in FY15, and installed it at its headquarters. Monitoring and fine tuning heating and cooling systems resulted in a 22 percent reduction in energy costs.
Based on that outcome, AHFC expanded installation of the tool to 15 other AHFC-owned facilities throughout FY16, and an additional 23 buildings are planned for installation in FY17.
The building monitoring system uses computer software to track a wide range of data about the building, including occupancy, temperature, electrical and fuel use; and it captures information from multiple outside sources such as, weather stations, building automation systems and databases. Sensors relay up-to-the-minute information allowing AHFC’s maintenance team to ensure proper operation, shutdown during unoccupied periods, troubleshoot operational difficulties; and it aids in design consideration of renovation or new building appliances.
The system uses open source software and is available at no cost at https://code.ahfc.us/energy/bmon.
In addition to utilization in AHFC properties, the system is used by several other Alaska entities, including Alaska Energy Authority and Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium.
Energy for Kids
ENERGY EFFICIENCY ENLIGHTENS CLASS ROOMS
Every year Alaskans spend millions of dollars on electric, heating and transportation energy. At least 20 percent of that energy goes up in smoke through waste and inefficiency. With Alaskans paying some of the highest energy prices knowledge about energy efficiency is important even at an early age.
That’s why AHFC has teamed up with the Renewable Energy Alaska Project and developed AK EnergySmart, a K-12 curriculum designed by Alaskans for Alaskan students to raise energy literacy.
During FY16, the Renewable Energy Alaska Project conducted 92 presentations about AK EnergySmart, reaching 79 teachers and administrators, and 2,726 students. Presentations and teacher trainings were provided in Anchorage, Barrow, Bethel, Dillingham, Nome, Sand Point, Sitka, and Soldotna. Large scale adoption of the AK EnergySmart curriculum at the district level occurred in the school districts of Anchorage, Fairbanks and the Kenai Peninsula.
Photo Credit: Tim Leach
Energy Efficiency NOW
CONFERENCE EXPANDS WITH LOTS OF ENERGY
AHFC’s Research and Rural Development Department held its second annual energy conference, Energy Efficiency NOW, in January 2016 in Anchorage, growing both its scope and number of attendees. The focus in the first year was on energy efficiency in commercial buildings but the 2016 conference expanded its education offering to include residential buildings. The robust agenda is thought to be a driving factor for increased attendance, up from 100 to 180. Feedback from both conferences has been positive, and a third conference is planned for March 2017.
Photo Credit: Tim Leach
Builder of the Year
NORTH POLE HOMEBUILDER EARNS TITLE BUILDER OF THE YEAR
Brannon Richart, owner of Intella Homes in North Pole, received in FY16 AHFC’s inaugural “Builder of the Year” award. The award recognizes the builder for constructing the most energy-efficient 6 Star home in 2015.
Of 47 homes rated and verified through AHFC’s Home Energy Rating System, the Richart built home located in Waxwing Court in North Pole, scored 97.5 points in overall efficiency.
The home, measuring 3,660 sq. ft., has projected annual energy costs of $5,120 per year, the bulk of which accounts for lighting and appliances.
The “Builder of the Year” award was presented at the Build AK: Conference & Expo in Fairbanks organized by the Alaska State Home Building Association.
GRANTS FOR INFRASTRUCTURE AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Providing safer, more energy efficient and affordable housing for residents in rural and urban Alaska is the goal for the Supplemental Housing Development Grant Program. The Alaska Legislature appropriated $3 million for that purpose in FY16 and AHFC applied an additional $4,754,809 from prior year’s budgets for a total of $7,754,809. The funding were split up into 12 grants and awarded to 10 regional housing authorities supporting new construction and rehabilitation of 295 units. Grants were distributed as follows:
|Aleutian Housing Authority||$340,000.00|
|AVCP Housing Authority||$353,801.50|
|Bering Straits Regional Housing Authority||$321,191.02|
|Cook Inlet Housing Authority||$353,801.50|
|Copper River Basin Regional Housing Authority||$353,801.50|
|Interior Regional Housing Authority||$353,801.50|
|Kodiak Island Housing Authority||$106,000.00|
|North Pacific Rim Housing Authority||$110,000.00|
|Northwest Inupiat Housing Authority||$353,801.50|
|Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority||$353,801.50|
THE GRANTS WERE SPENT IN FOUR CATEGORIES BELOW:
VILLAGES RACE FOR MORE ENERGY EFFICIENCY
Rural Alaskan communities face a number of unique energy challenges, with harsh climate and isolation driving up energy costs. The U.S. Department of Energy made $4 million in funding available for a competition Remote Alaska Communities Energy Efficiency (RACEE) in December 2015. The three staged competition encouraged Alaskan communities and native Alaskan villages to develop tools for advancing the use of reliable, affordable and energy efficient solutions that can be replicated throughout Alaska. RACEE was spearheaded by Alaska Energy Authority (AEA) with AHFC’s Research and Rural Development Department as supporting partner for technical assistance and project management. Seven communities, City of Galena, Village of Holy Cross, Village of Kiana, Village of Klawock, City of Noorvik, City of Port Lions and City of Ruby were proclaimed as Community Efficiency Champions and eligible for project funding.
Photo Credit: Tim Leach