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The countywide emPowerSBC program has helped a Solvang family buy a distressed home in Janin Acres and make energy efficiency improvements.

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, the Rosenthals will host a home energy showcase to help local homeowners learn more about how to make home energy upgrades more affordable, emPowerSBC said in an announcement. The address is 850 Marcelino Drive.

There will be tours of the 2,195-square-foot, one-story ranch-style home built in 1971 and a chance to talk to the Rosenthals about their energy-efficient home and to meet energy efficiency experts.

Attendees can also learn how to take advantage of generous rebates and low-interest financing available for home energy upgrade projects.

The emPowerSBC program offers financial help to residential and commercial property owners for covering the up-front costs of making renewable, energy efficiency and water efficiency property improvements.

When the Rosenthals were considering buying the property, it was in bad shape, they said. All the windows were single paned, there was no burner for the water heater, no insulation and the furnace had been deemed unusable by the utility company.

They were unsure about how they could afford to make the needed upgrades until Kathy Rosenthal attended an emPowerSBC workshop, where she learned about the rebates, financing and tax credits available to property owners and prospective buyers to help improve their homes.

“The program made it possible for me to go ahead and buy the home without having to worry about how I would pay to make repairs,” she said.

The project started with a “whole house” energy assessment by Halsell Builders, one of several residential energy efficiency specialists on emPowerSBC’s list of participating contractors.

During the assessment, Halsell used diagnostic tools to pinpoint building performance problems and identify safety issues. The results of the assessment were used to the help the Rosenthals determine which upgrade measures would make the most sense for their home.

After completing improvements such as whole house air sealing, R38 attic insulation and installing dual-paned windows, a high efficiency furnace and tankless water heater, the Rosenthals received a $4,000 rebate from the statewide Energy Upgrade California program and a $500 federal tax credit. They financed the remaining project costs with a low-interest home energy upgrade loan.

As a result of the upgrades, the Rosenthals have reduced their overall energy use by 52 percent.

“The house is very comfortable now that we’ve participated in the emPowerSBC program,” she said. “The temperature is consistent throughout all the rooms in the house. Plus, because our home is well sealed and ventilated, our dust problem is no more.”

Since the program began in fall 2011, emPowerSBC sought to help homeowners lower their energy use while also supporting job growth in the local residential construction industry. The program provides a range of services to overcome obstacles to home energy efficiency, including rebates, financing, customer service, expert energy advising, outreach and education, and access to a qualified contractor directory.

Additionally, emPowerSBC’s extensive workforce efforts have helped over 400 building professionals advance their skills and expand their business models.

To date, emPowerSBC activities have led to energy efficiency work being done in over 200 homes, giving a $1.7 million financial boost to the local contracting industry.

For more information, call 568-3566 or visit www.empowersbc.org.

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