Energy efficiency has a number of short-term and long-term benefits for you, your family, your employer, and your utility. According to the Alliance to Save Energy, by using energy efficiently, you can:
Read more about energy efficiency on DOE’s website.
Residents and businesses in Montgomery County are becoming more energy efficient every day! DEP has pulled together case studies on local energy efficiency efforts to show you that it’s easy being green.
Visit My Green Montgomery for residential incentives for energy efficient technologies. Have you made energy efficiency upgrades in your home or business in Montgomery County? Tell us your story and appear on our blog!
Montgomery County residents can take advantage of financial incentives to adopt energy-efficient practices and renewable technologies in their homes. Incentives are available from utilities, as well as local, state, and federal sources.
For a comprehensive listing of all energy incentives and programs for the County’s residents, visit My Green Montgomery. General information on incentives is below:
The utilities that service Montgomery County offer a wide variety of incentives for energy efficiency upgrades using funding from the EmPower Maryland Act. Incentives may include rebates or discounts for: home energy assessments, energy-efficient appliances, demand management programs, programmable thermostats, and other similar efficiency actions. Click on your utility below to access their incentives websites:
Operated by the Maryland Energy Administration, the Residential Clean Energy Grant Program provides grants for a variety of clean energy installations for homeowners, including solar photovoltaic systems, solar water heating systems, and geothermal heating and cooling system. Note that funds often run out quickly, so make sure you reach out to the Maryland Energy Administration for updated information.
The Maryland Clean Energy Center and Maryland Energy Administration have partnered on the Maryland Home Energy Loan Program to provide unsecured loans of up to $20,000 at as low as 9.99% interest rate to qualifying Maryland property owners interested in improving the energy efficiency of their homes. Remember the loan program works best when used with Home Performance Program offered by your utilities.
Montgomery County homeowners are eligible for up to $250 in tax credits for energy efficiency improvements such as air-sealing and insulation, heating and cooling equipment, windows, and doors. The credit can be taken once per year for purchases made during that year. The amount available annually is $100,000, and applications are processed in the order they are received. Go to the Department of Finance application for renewable energy credits. Section 2 of the application applies to the Energy Conservation Devices
If you have made energy efficient upgrades to your home, you may be eligible for some Federal tax relief—even if you already received incentives from the County, State, or your utility company. Please note that not all ENERGY STAR certified products qualify for a tax credit. Visit EPA’s ENERGY STAR website to learn about the current Federal tax credits for consumer energy efficiency.
It can be a challenge to find all the energy hogs and leaks in your home by yourself. That is why the County recommends getting a Home Energy Assessment to identify specific home improvements you can do to make your home more energy efficient.
Energy assessments vary in scope, features, and costs. Some assessments provide a walk-through offering simple energy savings. Others go into great depth on the condition of your home and opportunities for improvement. Carefully consider the type of assessment most appropriate for your home and budget.
There is no budget too small for a home energy assessment! Depending on the type of assessment and test performed, you can take advantage of free assessments offered by your utility company; you can hire a professional contractor to do a full energy assessment for a couple hundred dollars or more; or you can perform the assessment yourself:
Do-It-Yourself : Several online tools are available for do-it-yourselfers who want to conduct their own energy assessment. Montgomery County residents can also borrow energy efficiency tools to use during the DIY assessment. Try out the resources below to help you find many energy savings opportunities:
ENERGY STAR’s Knowledge Center, which includes a Home Advisor portal for residents to create a home profile, get custom recommendations, and track the progress of home projects.
Home Energy Saver recommends energy-saving upgrades that are appropriate to the home and make sense for the home's climate and local energy prices.
Whether you rent or own a single-family home, townhome, or apartment, you can benefit from an energy assessment. But be sure to check with your landlord before getting a professional energy assessment or undertaking any improvements.
After completing a home energy assessment to identify energy leaks, start saving energy in your home by completing one or more of the following energy-saving projects:
Appliances and electronics are responsible for nearly 20 percent of a home's energy bill. Energy-efficient appliances reduce energy costs, and your utility company may even offer a rebate for qualified appliances. The ENERGY STAR program website makes finding energy-efficient appliances and consumer electronics easy, and offers tips on how to operate appliances to achieve maximum energy savings.
Lighting accounts for about 20 percent of a home's electricity use. There are a number of energy-efficient lighting options available at your local hardware store, but choose an ENERGY STAR certified bulb for lighting that meets strict third-party certified performance requirements. The average U.S. home has about 50 light fixtures—if you replace your five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs in them with ENERGY STAR certified bulbs, you can save $40 each year.
The following locations offer CFL collection and recycling services:
LED Lights: Light-emitting diode (LED) lights have a long lifespan (2-4 times longer than a CFL—a compact fluorescent light bulb), small size, and low heat output. While LEDs are extremely efficient, they can be more expensive than other light bulbs. Ask your home improvement store or lighting professional if LED lighting is right for your home, and see if your utility company will offer rebates or discounts for LED light bulbs.
CFL Bulbs: CFL bulbs are about four times more efficient than incandescent bulbs, and are commonly found in your local home improvement store. While slightly more expensive, CFLs will last 10 times longer than a standard light bulb.
Be careful while handling CFLs—the bulb temperature can get hot, and CFLs contain approximately 4 milligrams of mercury in each bulb, which requires proper clean-up and disposal. Read the ENERGY STAR CFL fact sheet (already on DEP site) for more information regarding mercury in CFLs.
Solar Lights : Solar-powered garden, pathway, and security lights are a great way to test out photovoltaic (PV) technologies if you’re not ready to install PV panels on your home. They're easy to install and don't draw electric power. In fact, they operate for free! Small solar panels generate electricity during the day and store it for use at night. Solar security lights are also great for power outages. As about these at your local home improvement store.
Electronics, TV cable boxes, cell phone chargers, and other appliances draw electricity when plugged in—even when they're not in use. They consume small amounts of electricity known as “phantom loads.” To stop those phantom electricity loads, plug electronics into a smart power strip, and switch the power strip off when those devices are idle and not being used.
The average household spends more than $2,200 a year on energy bills, with nearly half of this going to heating and cooling costs, according to EPA’s ENERGY STAR Program. Below are some suggested steps to make your home’ heating and cooling systems more energy efficient:
These actions can save you 2 percent on energy costs for each degree of change, and your utility company may offer additional incentives. Once you have a programmable thermostat installed, use this worksheet (already on DEP site) to find the times to set-back the thermostat and help you save on energy bills.
Use Fans to Reduce Heating and Cooling Needs : When used properly, a ceiling fan can help decrease the demand on your home heating or cooling system.
In the winter, set the fan at a low speed in the clockwise direction to force warm air at the ceiling down toward the floor. It will make the room warmer so you can lower your thermostat and reduce heating costs.
In the summer, switch the rotation to a counterclockwise direction to create a cooling effect. This lets you increase your thermostat setting a few degrees with little loss in comfort.
Don’t forget to turn off your fan when you’re not in the room—fans cool you, not the space.
Take your energy efficiency one step further by replacing your energy-intensive air-conditioner with a whole house fan. Whole house fans are installed in the center of a home and draw in cool night air.
Seal Fireplaces: Consider using an inflatable bag to seal your chimney when the fireplace isn't in use. The bag fits beneath the chimney's damper and is inflated to fill the space. Be sure to deflate and remove the bag before starting a fire, and let the chimney cool completely before reinstalling the bag. As about these at your local hardware store.
Kids can get involved in saving energy, too! Whether at home or school, kids can do a lot to help conserve energy. Games, quizzes, and other activities teach the basics about energy efficiency in a fun and creative way.
Explore the websites below with your children to learn more about energy together. Who knows? Maybe your child will learn more about the importance of energy conservation and be inspired to turn off the lights!