ANN ARBOR – The Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors (AAABoR) is encouraging Washtenaw County homeowners to take advantage of an opportunity to receive low-cost home energy assessments that can help shave hundreds of dollars a year from their utility bills.
AAABoR is promoting awareness of BetterBuildings for Michigan, a government-backed program that through Dec. 31 is offering $100 home energy assessments that identify ways for homeowners to reduce energy consumption. BetterBuildings for Michigan is funded by a $30 million federal grant the state received through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.
As part of its effort to inform the public about the program, AAABoR will purchase an energy assessment and award it randomly to a Washtenaw County homeowner.
In addition, AAABoR members are providing information about the benefits of a BetterBuildings for Michigan home energy assessment to homebuyers they assist.
The AAABoR partnership with BetterBuildings for Michigan is part of a new public awareness campaign to dispel concerns prompted by a recent national survey that found solicitations for home improvement work disguised as “free” energy audits are among the newest complaints that local and state consumer protection agencies dealt with during the past 12 months.
The fastest-growing complaints in the survey by advocacy groups the Consumer Federation of America and the North American Consumer Protection Investigators involved debt collection abuses, Do Not Call list violations, mortgage-related problems and home improvement scams. Home repair firms using high energy bills to dupe consumers were among the fastest-growing complaint categories.
“Our goal is to inform homeowners that BetterBuildings for Michigan is the state's completely safe, trustworthy and affordable way to complete a home energy audit,” said Beth Foley, president of the Michigan Association of Realtors.
Partners in BetterBuildings for Michigan include the U.S. Department of Energy, the State of Michigan Energy Office, the City of Detroit’s Economic Development Corp., the Southeast Michigan Regional Energy Office (SEMREO), Michigan Saves and DTE Energy.
“We are highly appreciative that the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors recognizes the value of our services,” said Jacob Corvidae, SEMREO co-director. “Our experience shows the assessments more than pay for themselves because of the energy-saving materials that are installed.”
The cost of a BetterBuildings for Michigan home assessment is a discount from the typical price of $350 for such inspections. So far, homeowners who have received the assessments are saving $235 annually, with some reporting reductions of $800 a year in their utility bills.
The program starts with low-cost inspections of homes – also called energy audits – that pinpoint where homes are losing energy and measure the efficiency of a home’s heating and cooling systems. A Certified Building Analyst uses a variety of techniques and equipment during the evaluation, including blower doors that evaluate the extent of structural leaks and infrared cameras, which reveal hard-to-detect areas of air infiltration and inadequate insulation.
Certified Building Analysts who conduct the assessment issue a personalized report with their findings to the homeowner. They will also install energy-efficient lightbulbs, showerheads, faucets and programmable thermostats – at no extra cost – and suggest additional cost-effective, energy-saving improvements, such as insulation and energy-efficient appliances.
Homeowners are under no obligation to act on the Certified Building Analyst report. BetterBuildings for Michigan offers financial assistance to those who choose to install additional energy-saving measures, including rebates totaling up to $5,000.
Homeowners who want to participate or learn more about the BetterBuildings for Michigan program can call 313-566-4801, email [email protected] or visit MIHomeEnergy.org.