June 25, 2008
RESIDENTIAL ELECTRIC EFFICIENCY PROGRAMS
By: Kevin E. McCarthy, Principal Analyst
You asked for a description of energy efficiency programs for residential electric consumers, particularly those with all-electric homes.
The electric companies (Connecticut Light & Power (CL&P)) and United Illuminating (UI)) offer a wide variety of efficiency programs for their residential customers. These include home energy audits, installation of energy efficient devices, and incentives for energy efficient air conditioners. The Connecticut Housing Investment Fund (CHIF) administers a low-interest loan program that can, among other things, help customers replace electric heating systems with other types of heating. Further information about these and other energy efficiency programs is available at www.ct-energyinfo.com/dpuc_energy_efficiency_programs.htm. Finally, the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund provides rebates to residential customers who install photovoltaic systems on their homes. Further information about this program is available at www.ctcleanenergy.com/residential/residential.php.
ELECTRIC COMPANY PROGRAMS
The two electric companies offer similar programs for residential customers. Both offer the Home Energy Solutions program which can help customers reduce their energy costs with an in-home visit by a trained energy-efficiency specialist. The service includes:
1. thorough inspection of the customer's home to identify and seal wasteful drafts and leaks;
2. evaluation of attic and basement insulation, with the customers receiving a rebate form with specifications to be used when contacting an insulation professional;
3. installation of energy-efficient light bulbs, showerheads and faucet aerators;
4. advice and tips to help make the home as comfortable and energy-efficient as possible; and
5. water heater and pipe insulation
The program is free to customers who heat their homes with electricity or natural gas; those who heat with oil or propane are charged $300 for the service.
Both companies also offer efficiency programs targeted to low- and moderate-income customers. CL&P's program (WRAP) helps renters or homeowners with an income at or below 60% of the state median income. UI's program (UI helps) assists households with an income of up to 200% of the federal poverty level. In addition to the services provided under the Home Energy Services program, these programs provide wall and attic insulation and additional efficiency measures, as needed.
Both companies offer a program that encourages customers to remove old, inefficient window air conditioners and replace them with models that meet federal ENERGY STARŪ standard. Participating customers receive a rebate on the new air conditioner that ranges from $25 to $100, depending on the price of the new air conditioner. Customers must present an existing window air conditioner unit to a participating retailer for proper, environmentally-friendly disposal in accordance with state and local regulations. The old unit must be in working order; the participating retailer reserves the right to check the unit to verify it is operable. There is a limit of three turned-in units per customer and rebates for multiple turned-in units cannot be combined. This program ends September 1, 2008.
Both companies also offer incentives of up to $500 for customers who install new air conditioners with a Seasonal Energy Efficiency Ratio (SEER) rating of 14 or higher.
CHIF administers the Energy Conservation Loan program. Through this program, households can borrow up to $25,000 and pay it back over a 10-year period. The loans can be used for thermal windows and doors, energy efficient furnaces and boilers, insulation, storm windows and doors, caulking and weather stripping, and efficient hot water heaters. The loans can also be used to convert all-electric homes to non-electric heating systems. Households with an income at or below 50% of the median family income (MFI) are not charged interest on these loans. Households with incomes between 50% and 150% of the MFI pay interest.
CLEAN ENERGY FUND PROGRAM
Owners of one- to four-unit residences can apply to the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund for rebates for solar photovoltaic systems. The rebate is $5 per kilowatt (kW) for the first 5 kW of generating capacity and $4.30 per kW for the next 5 kW. The rebate depends on the system's efficiency. Rebates are only available for systems purchased through an eligible installer who is authorized to apply for rebates for approved systems on Connecticut residences. Rebates must be passed on, in full, to customers. Installers may not require customers to pay the full costs and then wait for reimbursement from the fund.