Looking to make your home greener without spending too much green? A new program set to expand into Hyattsville could help show you how. Earlier this week, the Hyattsville City Council unanimously approved a proposal to expand University Park's Small Town Energy Program to Hyattsville.
Funded by a three-year grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, the program is designed to help homeowners take advantage of existing tax rebates and other government or retail discounts to lessen the financial burden of retrofitting a home to be more energy efficient.
The STEP-UP program is unique in that it provides a local "energy coach" who helps guide homeowners through the process of identifying financing options for energy efficient upgrades. It's designed to lower the information barrier which homeowners often confront when undertaking energy efficiency upgrade projects.
According Chuck Wilson, STEP-UP administrator, the program has worked remarkably well in University Park. In the year since the program has gone live there, 11 percent of the town's homes have undergone some sort of energy efficiency upgrades and 16 percent of University Park households have received a home energy assessment.
Program administrators admit that such participation rates may be hard to achieve in the larger, "more fragmented" city of Hyattsville.
At a household level, the savings can be significant, Wilson told the city council. STEP-UP administrators claim homes which have undergone energy efficiency renovations through the program have seen 15 percent average annual energy use reductions, translating into about $375 per year. Once rebates, identified and obtained through the STEP-UP program, are obtained, the average net out- of-pocket costs for those upgrades came in at $1,525, translating into a 4.1 year return on investment.
The program calls for the city to appoint an individual or committee to act as the municipal liason with the STEP-UP program. It also calls for literature and other services to be available in Spanish as well as English.
The program, as a result of its expansion into Hyattsville, and planned expansion to College Heights Estates and Riverdale Park, will be rebranded and relaunched later this summer.