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Energy Efficiency, Incentives + Home Disclosure Law

 
Much of the electricity supplied to American homes today is generated by burning fossil fuels, the leading cause of climate change. By using less energy at home, school, and work, you can lower the amount of greenhouse gas emissions created, improve our air quality, and save money.

Saving energy can be accomplished by using less energy—energy conservation—or doing more with the same amount of energy or less, which is known as energy efficiency.
  • Many of the appliances or products you use have energy-efficient alternatives—light bulbs, computers, home improvement products, and automobiles.
  • Energy efficiency can also be behavioral—washing clothes in cold water, driving less aggressively, and condensing trips.
Energy efficiency is a simple, cost-effective method for reducing our impact on the environment.

 

Benefits of Energy Efficiency

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:

  • Save money by using energy-efficient appliances, selecting LED light bulbs over CFLs or incandescent bulbs, and making smart energy choices (like washing clothes in cold water instead of hot water).
  • Improve the environment by avoiding pollution and saving natural resources—less energy generated can result in fewer emissions and keeping Earth’s resources in the ground preserved.
  • Drive the green economy by creating a demand for more energy efficient products and encouraging technological innovation, thus creating jobs.
  • Improve your quality of life! More efficient appliances means your home will be more comfortable and businesses you own or frequent can operate more productively.
  • Help national security—a lowered energy demand means we’ll import and transport less fuel, making us energy independent, saving defense funding, and keeping our military safe.

Read more about energy efficiency on  DOE’s website.

 

Energy Disclosure Requirement for Homes Sales

Montgomery County requires home sellers to provide an energy cost and consumption history, along with information on residential energy efficiency opportunities. The law went into effect January 1st, 2009 and applies to owner-occupied single family homes and condo which are individually metered by electricity of natural gas utilities.

Before signing a contract, the seller of the home must provide:
  • Copies of applicable electricity, gas, and home heating oil bills, or a cost and usage history for the 12 months immediately prior to the sale, unless the home was previously unoccupied for the entire 12-month period;
  • The required information for the part of the prior 12 months, if any, the single-family home was occupied; and
  • Information, approved by the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection, to assist the buyer in making energy conservation decisions.
This requirement is intended to ensure that the home buyer is informed of the home’s energy performance before the sale, and provides options to finance energy efficiency improvements. Often, a realtor may provide energy cost and consumption data through the regional Multiple Listing Service (MRIS) and can use this Energy Disclosure for Homes Sales (PDF, 266KB) document for residential energy efficiency opportunities.  

This law is enforced by the Office of Consumer Protection.

 

Home Energy Assessments

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.

Options for Home Energy Assessments

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:

  • Quick Home Energy Check-Up : If you are not sure whether you want to do a full home energy assessment yet, start off small with a  Quick Home Energy Checkup (QHEC), offered at no additional cost by all utilities serving Montgomery County. An energy efficiency professional will check the condition of its insulation, heating and air cooling system, lighting, and appliances, as well as give you energy-saving smart strips, light bulbs, and efficient showerheads.
  • Professional Assessment by a Certified Contractor : Several programs train and certify contractors to conduct standardized home energy assessments. Having a certified contractor conduct your assessment ensures that it complies with the program's standards. Note, many energy auditors are not contractors, so they have no financial stake in making home improvement recommendations.

 

Image of a home energy audit

 

Benefits of a Home Energy Assessment

With all of the benefits, performing a home energy assessment is no-brainer. After sealing leaks, upgrading appliances and fixtures, and making other efficiency improvements, you’ll be able to:
  • Save money with lower utility bills
  • Improve the comfort and health of your home by stopping air leakage
  • Reduce the frequency and severity of high-cost maintenance problems
  • Leverage money for home improvement projects with  energy-efficient mortgages, or low-interest loans. 
  • Decrease your impact on the environment by using less energy at home

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.

Read more about home energy assessments on My Green Montgomery. Still have a question or a comment about energy assessments? Email DEP at energy@montgomerycountymd.gov.

 

Financial Incentives

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:

Utility Incentives

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:

 
 
 

Washington Gas Logo

 

 

County & State Incentives

Maryland’s Residential Clean Energy Grant Program 

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.

BeSMART Home Energy Loan

The  BeSMART Home Loan Program offers innovative financing to improve home energy efficiency through replacement and upgrading of appliances, heating, cooling and ventilation systems and whole house envelope improvements across the state. These changes are intended to save the homeowner money, increase the safety and comfort of the home, and add value to the home. Home owners may choose their weatherization and energy efficiency professionals from a list of eligible providers whose qualifications have been reviewed by The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development. BeSMART Home Loan Brochure

Montgomery County Energy Efficiency Tax Credit

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

 

Federal Incentives

Energy Efficiency Tax Credits

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.

 

 
 
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