October 26, 2010
Austin Energy Announces Enhanced Energy Efficiency Incentives
Lower electric bills, greater comfort, great investment
Austin Energy today announced its “Best Offer Ever” to customers who make comprehensive energy efficiency improvements. Now through December 20, 2010, Austin Energy is offering combined rebates AND a 0% loan that provides both up-front and long-term savings for residential customers who participate in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program. Customers may also be eligible for rebates from Texas Gas Service and federal tax credits up to $1,500. Total up-front savings are estimated between 30% and 40%, not taking into account the immediate savings on monthly energy bills. The goal of this new product enhancement is to make energy efficiency improvements more affordable for customers.
This limited offer, named the “Best Offer Ever,” is made possible by Austin Energy’s Clean Energy Accelerator program, a new initiative funded by the U.S. Department of Energy under its BetterBuildings grant program and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Mayor Lee Leffingwell and the Austin City Council accepted the grant funds in the amount of $10 million on May 27, 2010, to allow Austin Energy to conduct customer research, develop marketing strategies, provide contractor and customer outreach, and design financing mechanisms to help customers make energy efficiency improvements.
“The City of Austin is building on its world-class energy efficiency experience and expertise,” said Mayor Lee Leffingwell. “By launching new products, we hope to further improve the reach of programs that are already some of the most successful in the nation.”
“Over the next three years Austin Energy will use this grant to market a variety of new products to see what works and what doesn’t work, and we’ll bring several sectors along with us, especially the banking and home repair industries,” said Karl R. Rábago, Austin Energy Vice President of Distributed Energy Services. “For each product we launch, we’ll evaluate and adjust with the goal of developing a portfolio of options that best deliver and communicate the cost effectiveness and benefits of energy efficiency.”
One of Austin Energy’s first customers to take advantage of this special offer made the decision after doing some simple math. The couple found the “Best Offer Ever” incentive package (plus federal tax credits) would pay nearly 40% of the cost of efficiency improvements. Add in a projected 15-20% reduction in electric bills and the improvements pay for themselves in less than five years. The couple replaced their air conditioning unit, doubled the size of their air returns, and added attic insulation and weather stripping for their all-electric home built in 1984. The added energy efficiency improves comfort, the value of their property and reduces their carbon footprint.
Austin Energy Home Performance is a whole-house approach. Making all efficiency improvements that are needed substantially increases the effectiveness of upgrades as a whole. Statistics show homes 10 years or older generally leak 20% to 30% of air into the attic due to old or worn out ducts. They also lack sufficient attic insulation, with 12 to 13 inches (R-38) recommended. In addition, new air conditioning units use 40% to 50% less energy than newer energy efficient models. To qualify for the limited offer, customers must make all recommended energy efficiency improvements provided by their respective contractor.
Between 1982 and 2006, Austin Energy offset 600 megawatts of peak demand through energy efficiency, delaying the need to build a large power plant like Decker Creek Power Station. Between 2007 and 2020, the utility has set a goal to offset another 800 megawatts. Energy efficiency saves customers money, creates green jobs for the local economy, reduces greenhouse gas emissions and reduces the negative impacts of fossil energy consumption.
“This is the latest example of federal-city synergy working to make energy bills more affordable for Central Texas families,” said Congressman Lloyd Doggett.