Energy efficient home improvements to receive rebates

The Phil­adelphia Gas Works plans to award $4 mil­lion in re­bates for en­ergy ef­fi­cient home im­prove­ments in the com­ing months, but prop­erty own­ers can save en­ergy and money while spend­ing next to noth­ing.

That was the mes­sage de­livered to the Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation on Nov. 12 by El­len Chap­man, busi­ness de­vel­op­ment man­ager for the En­ergy Co­ordin­at­ing Agency. ECA is a non­profit that per­forms home en­ergy ef­fi­ciency as­sess­ments and im­prove­ments as part of PGW’s En­ergy­Sense pro­gram.

An as­sess­ment, of­fi­cially known as an en­ergy audit, costs the homeown­er $150. ECA will in­spect the home and pre­pare a re­port con­tain­ing re­com­mend­a­tions that will likely cost the homeown­er some money up front. But the homeown­er can re­cov­er some ex­penses — about 25 per­cent of them on av­er­age — for things like new win­dows, new heat­ing and air con­di­tion­ing sys­tems and new ap­pli­ances.

Homeown­ers can also qual­i­fy for low-in­terest loans to spread out the rest of the cost over the long term. Mean­while, par­ti­cipants will likely see big sav­ings in their en­ergy bills.

For more in­form­a­tion about the plan, homeown­ers can call 215-609-1052.

In the mean­time, homeown­ers don’t need an audit or a con­tract­or to save en­ergy in oth­er ways.

Ac­cord­ing to Chap­man, about 45 per­cent of en­ergy costs for an av­er­age home can be re­duced through simple meas­ures. Some of Chap­man’s re­com­mend­a­tions are:

• Change from stand­ard light bulbs to new LED bulbs. WIth av­er­age use, a stand­ard bulb will tally about $22 in an­nu­al en­ergy cost. An LED bulb will tally about $2.

• Whenev­er shop­ping for new ap­pli­ances, look for the En­ergyS­tar la­bel and cer­ti­fic­a­tion. It may not be cost-ef­fect­ive to dis­card a work­ing re­fri­ger­at­or, wash­ing ma­chine or dish­wash­er for an En­ergyS­tar mod­el. But if you are already in the mar­ket, it makes sense to go with the more-ef­fi­cient op­tion.

• When not us­ing ap­pli­ances or elec­tron­ic equip­ment, un­plug them. Even if a device is turned off, the plug will draw power from the sock­et. That in­cludes toast­ers, blenders, com­puters and mo­bile phone char­gers. As an al­tern­at­ive, us­ing cer­tain surge-pro­tect­or strips can pre­vent this hid­den power con­sump­tion.

• Make sure your re­fri­ger­at­or and oven doors are sealed prop­erly. The door seals on both ap­pli­ances can be­come cracked or dam­aged over time. This may al­low cold and heat to es­cape. In both cases, faulty seals force the ap­pli­ance to use more en­ergy. If dam­aged, they should be re­placed.

For in­form­a­tion about en­ergy use and pro­grams in the North­east, homeown­ers may call 215-437-7867 or 215-427-0350.

Homeown­ers can also take ad­vant­age of the rain bar­rel pro­gram co-sponsored by ECA and the Phil­adelphia Wa­ter De­part­ment, Chap­man said. Rain bar­rels col­lect rain wa­ter dir­ectly from the down­spout and save the wa­ter for later use. The bar­rels have a spig­ot and can be used with a hose to wa­ter a garden or wash a car.

Bar­rels are about 4 feet tall and blue. They are fully en­closed so they won’t be­come breed­ing grounds for in­sects.

To get a free bar­rel de­livered and in­stalled, homeown­ers must at­tend a free present­a­tion about storm wa­ter man­age­ment and con­ser­va­tion. For in­form­a­tion, call 215-609-1044.

Ad­di­tion­ally, Chap­man said, low-in­come homeown­ers can col­lect be­ne­fits to help them pay their winter heat­ing costs. ECA’s “heat­er hot­line” is 215-609-1028.

In oth­er Somer­ton Civic As­so­ci­ation busi­ness:

• The SCA un­an­im­ously ap­proved the re­new­al of a zon­ing vari­ance for Beer Boys at Wood­haven Road and Evans Street. The vari­ance would al­low the busi­ness to con­tin­ue selling beer by the case and keg, along with ci­gar­ettes, at the re­tail level. The site is per­man­ently zoned for ware­house and dis­tri­bu­tion activ­it­ies, but not re­tail. About four years ago, the city gran­ted the busi­ness a tem­por­ary re­tail vari­ance, but that ex­pired last year.

• Dolores Bar­bieri, SCA pres­id­ent, said that the civic group’s of­ficers are pay­ing close at­ten­tion to de­vel­op­ments at the Kraft Foods plant at Roosevelt Boulevard and By­berry Road. Ac­cord­ing to nu­mer­ous news re­ports, the com­pany is con­sid­er­ing clos­ing the plant, mov­ing its op­er­a­tions else­where. The plant has about 300 em­ploy­ees. Their fu­ture re­mains un­cer­tain.

“Let’s do what we can to keep that loc­a­tion act­ive and pro­duct­ive,” Bar­bieri said.

• Dan Lod­ise, chief of staff to state Rep. Brendan Boyle, re­por­ted that his boss and oth­er elec­ted of­fi­cials op­pose the Kraft plant’s clos­ing. They hope to meet with the com­pany lead­ers in the com­ing days.

• Lod­ise asked that res­id­ents help out with Boyle’s an­nu­al hol­i­day toy drive. New, un­wrapped toys can be de­livered to Boyle’s of­fices at 14230 Bustleton Ave. or 7215-B Rising Sun Ave. Toys will be giv­en to loc­al fam­il­ies in need.

• SCA board mem­ber Lou De­Cree in­vited neigh­bors to at­tend the 17th an­nu­al beef ‘n’ beer fun­draiser for the Daniel Boyle Re­cre­ation Cen­ter ath­let­ic pro­gram. The cost is $40. The event will be at the FOP Lodge 5 hall, 11630 Car­oline Road, on Sat­urday, Nov. 23, from 7 to 11 p.m. No tick­ets will be sold at the door. Call 215-620-2270. ••

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