For many Philadelphia residents, staying warm this winter came with a literal cost — extremely high utility bills.
“We have seen, this winter, what an extreme weather situation can do for one’s utility bills. We’ve seen the spike in variable rate of electric bills, and we’ve seen the spikes over the years in oil bills,” Mt. Airy homeowner and Executive Director of Mt. Airy USA Anuj Gupta said.
“The best long term way to mitigate against that is to make your home more energy efficient.”
This week, Philadelphia Gas Works announced a new program that they say could help save customers thousands of dollars in energy costs. It’s called the PGW EnergySense Home Rebates program, and the company kicked off customer outreach for the program in Mt. Airy.
How it works
Vice President of PGW’s Regulatory Compliance and Customer Programs, Denise Adamucci, described the benefits of the program during a home assessment demonstration at a Mt. Airy duplex on Wednesday.
“It provides residential customers with the ability to make their homes more energy efficient and more comfortable,” she said.
As Adamucci explained, the process begins with a home assessment, in which one of five PGW approved contractors conducts a detailed inspection of the home and provides the homeowner with a report of any problems that might be affecting the home’s energy performance, including energy waste, improper ventilation and insulation, moisture and pest problems, and faulty equipment operation.
If any problems are found during the assessment, customers can choose from an array of solutions and take advantage of up to $3,500 in rebates or low interest financing toward the costs of any repairs.
The assessment normally costs $500, but through the Home Rebates program, customers can get the assessment done for $150.
On Wednesday, technical specialist Kevin Rowley of Performance Systems Development — one of the PGW approved contractors — conducted an assessment in Gupta’s Mt. Airy home.
Gupta, who purchased his home less than four months ago, said he opened his home for the assessment demonstration because he was curious about what areas of the recently rehabbed home might need to be improved.
Using a thermal IR camera, Rowley walked Gupta through his newly purchased home, showing him areas where cool air was seeping in, and pointing out other potential areas of the home where energy use could be improved through simple fixes like adding additional insulation or sealing off an inactive fire place.
According to PSD Program Coordinator Matt Stern, many customers in Philadelphia can benefit from getting an assessment of their home.
“We see that as many as 85 percent of [Philadelphia] homes have what we call critical home performance issues, the same sort of issues that can be identified and addressed through the assessment and upgrade process,” he said.
“One of the reasons that we focused on Mt. Airy is that we feel that — because of the community and the residents here — that they’d be very interested in the program, but we’re also advertising the program across the city.”
Joyce Farris owns a 110 year-old home in Chestnut Hill. She said she participated in the Home Rebates program because she knew that the gas boiler she’d put in the home more than 25 years ago was on its last leg.
“When this program opportunity came up I was very aware that it [the boiler] was past its useful life and it was time for me to upgrade my boiler and to insulate and do air seals, all of the work that is being included as part of this program,” she said.
Farris said the full assessment and upgrade process was quick, saved her money, and helped to improve the value of her home.
“My house is more comfortable, I now I have equipment that is not on the end of its useful life and I don’t have a risk of being cold this winter.”
On Saturday, April 5 at 10 a.m. Mt. Airy USA will host a home improvement and energy workshop at 6307 Germantown Ave. Representatives from PGW and PSD will be on site to explain the details of the program to residents and to help customers sign up for home assessments.
More information about the program can be found on the PGW Home Rebates website or by calling 1-855-PGW-SOLVES.