Rebates soar as homeowners make energy-efficient upgrades 

San Mateo County homeowners who improve their properties’ energy efficiency can now get $8,000 in rebates.

Since March, homeowners have had access to up to $4,000 through Energy Upgrade California, a state rebate program that receives contributions through PG&E’s ratepayer fund. But this week, the county added to that, matching support of up to $4,000, drawing on state money provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

To get the rebates, homeowners need to have an energy assessment from one of some 20 participating contractors, then work with them to make upgrades that improve energy efficiency, said Liz Henton, outreach coordinator for Energy Upgrade California in San Mateo County.

"You can get anywhere from [$2,000] to $8,000 based on how much you cut your energy use," said Henton. A 40 percent reduction earns the full $8,000 rebate.

Upgrades include improving insulation, sealing air-leakage points, sealing or replacing duct systems, replacing furnaces with more efficient models and installing double-paned windows, Henton said.

On average, people can recoup 50 to 75 percent of the cost of upgrades with a 100 percent maximum rebate, said Douglas Alfaro, program coordinator for the upgrade program.

The county’s goal is to have 100 homes access the new incentives.

The rebate fund will last until March, or until it uses up its $300,000 allotment, Alfaro said.

Besides reducing greenhouse gas emissions, upgrades can help keep a home’s temperature constant and reduce health issues such as allergies and respiratory illnesses by sealing moldy crawl spaces or dusty attics, Alfaro said.

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