With the winter wind at their backs, homeowners in Maine probably are as motivated as they’ll ever be to increase their homes’ energy efficiency. So the launch of Maine Home Performance, a retrofit incentive program announced January 8 by Governor John Baldacci, was timely.
As noted in a story published by The Free Press, a weekly that serves mid-coast Maine, more than 300 homeowners had called about the program within 48 hours of Baldacci’s announcement. The program, which is limited to the first 4,000 homeowners who join it, offers $1,500 to those whose homes achieve a 25% energy savings in heat and hot-water fuel usage, and $3,000 if they achieve a 50% energy savings. The source of the funds: the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
In addition, many of the program-eligible improvements – which include air sealing and installation of insulation, high-efficiency heating and hot-water systems (including solar hot-water), programmable thermostats and other indoor-climate controls, water-saving devices, and energy efficient windows – may also be eligible for as much as $1,500 in federal tax credits. Owners of multifamily dwellings also may benefit from Maine Home Performance participation.
A three-step process
The program is being administered by Efficiency Maine, division of the Maine Public Utilities Commission, and is open to homeowners of all income levels. The properties can be single-family homes or include two to four units, but they must be occupied year-round. The program requires that an energy audit be performed by a certified auditor in each participating home, and once the retrofit is complete, the home’s energy performance is evaluated again, and the improvements verified, before incentive funds are released to the homeowner.
Efficiency Maine has enlisted Conservation Services Group, a specialist in residential energy program management, to oversee the program, which, as The Free Press points out, is one step along the path defined by the Maine legislature last year, when it passed an initiative that calls for weatherizing all Maine homes and half of Maine businesses by 2030.