This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

November 14, 2011

Santa Barbara County Launches New Home Energy Upgrade Financing Program with Energy Department Support

Program combines cash incentives with financing for energy-saving home upgrades

The U.S. Department of Energy recently recognized the launch of Santa Barbara County's energy efficiency financing program, one of the Department's Better Buildings Neighborhood projects. Called "emPowerSBC," this new program will allow homeowners in Santa Barbara, California to increase the comfort and affordability of their homes through energy-saving home upgrades such as improved insulation, windows and doors, and energy-efficient heating and cooling systems. This is one of 41 Better Buildings Neighborhood projects nationwide that are bringing the public and private sectors together to provide American homes and businesses with high quality and accessible energy improvements that save money and create new jobs.

"This program encourages Santa Barbara homeowners to reduce their utility bills by improving the energy efficiency of their homes," said Secretary Chu. "Across the U.S., programs like emPowerSBC are increasing the demand for energy-saving products and services, creating jobs, and helping families to reduce energy waste and save money."

Funded under the Recovery Act with $2.4 million from the Energy Department, emPowerSBC was developed by the County of Santa Barbara to help homeowners countywide achieve a more comfortable and energy-efficient home, while lowering their utility bills. Through a partnership with local lenders CoastHills Federal Credit Union and Ventura County Credit Union, emPowerSBC provides low-cost, long-term financing to assist homeowners in making home energy upgrades. EmPowerSBC also partners with Energy Upgrade California, a statewide incentive program, to offer local residents up to $4,000 in utility rebates to help them make energy-efficient changes to their homes.

The program will also coordinate outreach, education, contractor recruitment and management, and workforce development efforts in the community. Through the initiative, Santa Barbara County aims to demonstrate that homes in temperate regions that have milder summers and winters will still benefit from energy upgrades.

The Better Buildings Neighborhood Program is part of the Better Buildings Initiative—a program within the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy that is lowering barriers to improving building efficiency nationwide. Funded with over $500 million from the Energy Department, the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program will leverage an estimated $3 billion in additional resources over the next three years. The program expects to save consumers about $65 million every year on energy bills.

Better Buildings community partnerships support growth in the energy efficiency upgrade market by implementing innovative approaches to deliver energy improvements, bringing real solutions to market and developing sustainable business models. The lessons learned from Better Buildings programs will be shared as promising approaches for improving the delivery of comprehensive energy efficiency upgrade programs that can be adopted and implemented by communities and administrators across the nation.

To learn more about how the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings program is changing lives by changing buildings, visit the Better Buildings website.

To learn more about DOE's Recovery Act investments, please visit DOE's Recovery Act website.

To learn more about emPowerSBC, please visit the emPowerSBC website.

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