A program called Energy Fit offers Nevada residents a chance to squeeze every wasted penny out of their power bills. But, as they say in business, you’ve got to spend money to make money.
Here’s how it works: A certified contractor goes to your house and does an energy assessment. He looks at your air conditioner, heating unit, ductwork and windows to determine where you could save the most money. He evaluates possible changes and estimates how much energy they could save. Then, you pay him to carry out the changes you can afford.
If you achieve 15 percent greater efficiency, you get a $500 rebate from Home Free, the nonprofit outfit that runs Energy Fit. Twenty percent greater efficiency earns you $1,000. On top of that, you will likely qualify for rebates that local utilities offer, as well as federal tax credits. These can add up: For instance, the federal government gives credit for 10 percent of HVAC upgrade costs, up to $500.
Here’s the tough sell: It typically takes an investment of about $3,500 to get a 15-20 percent efficiency increase, says Denée Evans, Home Free’s executive director.
“We do want homeowners to be invested in it as well,” she says, “but whatever we can do to make it affordable for people, we’re trying to do.”
The real value, though, may be in savings after the retrofit. “Every home is different,” Evans says, “but on average, people save $612 per year.”