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Repowering Bremerton one unit at a time
More than 50 percent of Bremerton homes were built before 1960 — before energy efficiency housing codes were implemented — so now is the time for residents to get their houses audited to see what needs to be fixed or changed — for free.
The program, RePower Bremerton, provides in-home energy assessments in order for residents to increase the comfort and safety of their homes while offering cash-back incentives. It was launched in September and on Tuesday Mayor Patty Lent had a summit to encourage community members to participate in the program.
“We want to make it affordable and convenient for you,” Lent said.
In July 2010, Bremerton received a BetterBuildings award from the U.S. Department of Energy. The city was one of 20 communities in the country selected to receive money for energy efficiency. The grant was $4.9 million that is going toward the assessments and has created 66 new jobs, said Hilary Franz, who is involved with the program.
Franz is a Bainbridge Island city councilwoman who spearheaded RePower Bainbridge, which began in March. Since the Bainbridge program launched, 1,500 homes have been assessed, Franz said. The Bremerton program has a goal of assessing 1,000 homes.
“We all know when we’re wasting water, nobody knows how much money we’re wasting in their homes,” Franz said on why it’s a good idea to get an assessment.
Each assessment includes a 90-minute walk-through of the unit from Puget Sound Energy to address problems and the evaluator will come up with a list of recommendations ranging from duct sealing to installing compact fluorescent bulbs. A more comprehensive four to five-hour evaluation for a home energy score has a cost to it that depends on the size of the house, said Franz.
Jim Adrian, a local landlord and past president of the Puget Sound Rental Owners Association, encouraged other rental property owners to get their units assessed through the program.
“It’s going to reduce our utilities bill, improve our property value,” Adrian said.
Adrian has been a landlord in Kitsap for about 35 years. He said he plans to aggregate properties with other landlords in order to get large package bids.
“It’s cheaper to save energy than pay for generators,” he added.
Yvonne Kraus, RePower program manager, said that about 35 Bremerton homes have been audited. The program is set up for inspections of single family homes of up to four units, she said. The energy adviser walks around the home with an infrared camera to detect where cold air is entering the unit to determine an energy performance score. At this time they are set up to do this evaluation for only single family homes, she added.
David Malcom, pastor of Ebenezer AME Church said the church has a couple properties. He and his wife moved to the area last December.
“As responsible landlords, we want to do all we can,” said True Malcom, David Malcom’s wife. “We’re just looking into every avenue that we can.”
City Councilwoman Dianne Robinson said she plans to sign up to get her house audited. She said her house was built in 1979 and about five years ago she discovered there was no insulation.
“I think I could really use an assessment,” she said.
Robinson added that those living in older units could greatly benefit from getting an assessment done.
“It’s really needed in a lot of the houses,” Robinson added. She said she planned to encourage residents in her district, especially Anderson Cove, to consider looking into the program.
There are cash-back incentives offered for energy efficient improvements made to units from Puget Sound Energy and Cascade Natural Gas. Franz added that those who do not have Puget Sound Energy or Cascade Natural Gas Corporation services may be eligible to receive incentives through the RePower program.
Along with the RePower program in Bremerton and on Bainbridge, there is RePower Kitsap, that is geared toward reducing energy consumption in county homes.