Subsidies available for energy efficient home upgrades
Wednesday, 14 May 2014 12:28

Program open to Dundalk homeowners

by Nicole Rodman

    The Dundalk Renaissance Corporation (DRC) has partnered with Retrofit Baltimore to offer subsidies to Dundalk homeowners seeking to make their homes more energy efficient.
    Retrofit Baltimore, a  program of the nonprofit organization Civic Works, was established in 2011 to guide homeowners through the process of “retrofitting” their homes to make them more energy efficient.
    According to Eli Allen, project manager for Retrofit Baltimore, by making a few changes to a home, homeowners can enjoy lower energy bills and a higher quality of life.
    These changes can range from the simple —
sealing air leaks and installing insulation — to the more complex — improving heating and cooling systems, repairing carbon-monoxide leaks, improving ductwork and installing a “cool roof.”
  

As Allen explained, homeowners who retrofit their homes to make them more energy efficient see, on average, a 20 percent drop in utility bills.
    In addition, retrofitting a home can improve the overall health of the home — making the home’s climate more comfortable and preventing pests from coming in through cracks and openings.
    The repairs are invisible, meaning that work done will not alter the aesthetic look of the home.
    Acknowledging the historic nature of many of Dundalk’s homes, Allen explained, “the homes are historic, beautiful, but they weren’t built with energy efficiency in mind.”
    While Retrofit Baltimore does not do the actual repairs, the program does provide homeowners with information and access to reliable contractors.
    All contractors are thoroughly vetted by Retrofit Baltimore, Allen explained.
    The retrofitting process is done in two steps.
    First, a contractor spends three to four hours in the home conducting an “energy audit.”
    During this audit, the contractor diagnoses the causes of energy loss in the home.
    Step two involves creating a customized plan to address the home’s energy inefficiencies.
    As part of Retrofit Baltimore’s partnership with DRC, Dundalk homeowners are eligible for subsidies covering 70 to 100 percent of the cost of repairs done to the home.
    As Allen explained, the amount of the subsidy depends on how much is spent on repairs.
    Homeowners spending up to $4,000 will be eligible to have 100 percent of their costs covered.
    The amount of the subsidy decreases as the price of repairs increases.    
    Homeowners spending $10,000 on repairs will be eligible for a subsidy covering 70 percent of the cost.
    These subsidies are made possible due to two grants awarded to the DRC.
    Part of the funding comes from the $912,000 Baltimore Regional Neighborhood Initiative grant awarded to the DRC by the state of Maryland last October.
    The rest of the funding comes from the Customer Investment Fund.
    The Customer Investment Fund is a $113.5 million fund created by Exelon Corporation as a condition of its 2012 merger with BGE parent company Constellation Energy.
    Retrofit Baltimore and the DRC are reaching out to Dundalk homeowners hoping to encourage people to take advantage of the program.
    “This is going to make Dundalk a model for sustainable, green, energy-efficient homes in Maryland,” Allen said.
    Representatives of Retrofit Baltimore have been contacting churches and attending local events in an attempt to spread the word.
    DRC executive director Amy Menzer said she is excited to offer the program to Dundalk homeowners.
    “Our goal is to provide grants to people with higher incomes that complement existing programs available for people with lower incomes and to give people another incentive to stay here and reinvest in their home,” Menzer explained.
    “By targeting a wide range of housing types throughout greater Dundalk, we hope to benefit many people and provide examples on our website that homeowners throughout the region can learn from,” she added.
    Homeowners hoping to take advantage of the program should apply immediately, as funds are limited.
    For more information, call Retrofit Baltimore at 410-929-6139 or visit www.retrofitbaltimore.org/dundalk.