Energy-Efficient Upgrades and Rebate Programs Put New Homeowners at Ease

Whether switching to LEDs or upgrading to an energy-efficient appliance, here are some ways to make moving into a new home a bit less stressful.

August 11, 2014 | By Toni-Lynne Langeveld

When Southern California Edison (SCE) customer Max L. recently decided to purchase a house in the Inland Empire, where temperatures reach well over 100 degrees in the summer, making his new home energy efficient was one of his top priorities

Max’s first goal was to reduce the use of his air conditioner so he installed energy-efficient window shading throughout the house. He put light-reflecting curtains and liners in his home office and put sun shades on all the living room windows, measures that help reduce heat loss in the winter and heat gain in the summer.

“It keeps the rooms dark and cool and I don’t use much air conditioning,” he said. “It works for our house, which is more energy efficient than our previous house because the insulation is better.”

New homeowners like Max can go through a wide range of emotions, from excitement to apprehension, when buying a new home. But one of the things that should lessen their stress is the wide-range of energy-efficient measures they can take, helping to lower their electricity bills.

One easy fix is a home’s lighting. Switching from traditional, incandescent lightbulbs to compact, fluorescent bulbs (CFLs) can generate some savings. Using about one quarter the energy of its counterpart, CFLs are comparable in price and may last up to seven times as long.

Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are used in cellphones and large retailers have already recognized the savings benefit of installing LEDs. Made from materials like silicon and nickel, LEDs can last three times longer than CFLs.  

“Most LED bulbs in California for residential use are currently about the same efficiency as CFLs,” said Richard Greenburg, SCE program manager for lighting. “The industry expects them to become up to 30 percent more efficient by 2018.”

Max changed all of the lighting in his new home shortly after moving in.

“We replaced all the incandescent lightbulbs with CFLs and I actually went a step above and put LEDs for my outside lighting for motion controls,” he said.

Caulking, a type of weatherization upgrade, is another easy way to reduce energy costs. Sealing gaps to doors and windows requires minimal up-front costs and puts less strain on major home devices such as an air-conditioning unit.

SCE also offers a number of rebate programs for installing certain energy-efficient appliances, such as refrigerators. For example, Max made it a point to purchase a new energy-efficient washer.

Through SCE’s Home Energy Efficiency Rebate Program, customers can take advantage of a variety of incentives such as the ENERGY STAR Qualified Refrigerator Rebate of $35 or $75 or the Variable Speed Pool Pump & Motor Rebate of $200.

"There are other rebates [available], such as for electric water heaters, clothes washers, evaporative coolers and portable room ac's," said Larry Tabizon, SCE program manager for Plug Load Programs.

The various energy-efficient upgrades and rebate programs have worked for new homeowner Max. 

“In conjunction with the measures we took, we certainly saved 10 to 15 percent on our energy bills,” he said.

New homeowners can also take advantage of incentives offered through Energy Upgrade California's Home Upgrade Program. Home improvements eligible under this program are replacing an air-conditioning system, improving insulation in walls, attics and floors, as well as new windows.

For more information about Energy Upgrade California, call 855-561-2243 or visit sce.com/upgrade to view contractors in your area. For more information on energy-efficient home improvements, visit sce.com/homeenergyguide.

Topics: Customer Service