Before investing in that solar panel or hot new electric vehicle, one of the most immediate ways we can be more energy efficient is to look within our homes to find ways to consume smarter. Easier said than done, though, as the prospect of making upgrades is expensive and navigating through the myriad of incentive programs is often daunting and downright confusing. To help demistify one such program, Southern California Edison's Energy Upgrade California, Dwell on Design invited Richard Genece, Residential Portfolio Manager of Energy Efficiency Programs of SoCal Ed., onto the Sustainability Stage. We chatted with Richard to get to the heart of the program and find out how Californians can save some cold, hard cash by cutting back on energy consumption.
Can you tell us what "Energy Upgrade California" is in a nutshell?Southern California Edison launched the "Energy Upgrade California" program last year. In a nutshell, it’s all about energy efficiency retrofits to existing homes, so people can lower their energy bills, take advantage of incentives, and get greater comfort in their home.What does it entail?It entails going to the website, energyupgradeCA.org, which is a statewide website, and plugging in your ZIP code. On that site, you’ll see all the contractors that are certified for your particular ZIP code to do the work that will let you earn incentives. There are two ways to participate in the program. The basic package has air-sealing, attic insulation…all of these measures are up to a $1,000 incentive based on doing these things on your home. The advanced package is a lot more comprehensive but it provides to up to $4,000 in incentives.About how much would people spend to get these incentives?What would you pay to gain a $1,000 incentive is between $3,000-8,000. On an advanced package, you’d spend anywhere between $10,000-20,000. Of course, the price is determined by whatever the contractor charges for these doing these upgrades. What you’re going to earn is based on the energy savings that the home produces, up to $4,000. That $4,000 is just from Edison. L.A. County, for example, is actually adding an extra $2,000 on top of the $4,000.How does Energy Upgrade California differ in terms of approach versus simply installing upgrades ourselves?This is really a way of changing the homeowners’ mindset around energy efficiency to looking at their whole house as a system, versus individual measures. We still have individual programs, but those are single things—tiny things—versus looking at your whole house and looking from an infrastructure standpoint and asking, “What are all the things that I could do bundled together all at once to maximize the energy efficiency in my home?”If there was one thing you would want people to take away from your presentation, what would it be?Look at the whole house as a system.