'Go Green' challenge aims to lower utility bills

Hoping to help more homeowners lower their utility bills, a Baltimore nonprofit is challenging area neighborhoods to engage in a little friendly competition to see which can get the most home energy retrofits done before winter arrives.

Civic Works, which has improved energy efficiency in more than 250 homes over the past two years, launched a new campaign today aimed at getting neighborhoods to vie for recognition as the "greenest" in the metro area by enlisting residents in upgrading insulation and sealing air leaks in their homes, among other improvements.

With elected officials on hand, the urban service corps based at historic Clifton Mansion was to announce "Go Green! Retrofit Baltimore Neighborhood Challenge" this morning at a Charles Village home.

Neighborhood associations in Patterson Park and Federal Hill already have signed up, according to Civic Works, but it hopes to get more community groups to join and spread the word among their residents. Any metro area homeowner can get in on the retrofits, though, even if not part of a neighborhood group.

To participate, homeowners are asked to have a $100 home energy assessment done, which can identify air leaks, uninsulated ducts and pipes and other ways in which energy is being lost. Fixing those can save homeowners an average of 20 percent on their utility bills, according to the group, while also reducing drafts and temperature variations in homes.

To see lower utility bills, homeowners will have to spend some up front. But the cost of improvements can be cut in half with up to $2,000 in rebates available through the state. The energy savings is such, the group says, that out-of-pocket costs can be paid back in as little as three years in many cases. Civic Works helps homeowners find qualified contractors and apply for the rebates.

For more, go here.

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