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July 3, 2020
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Helping homeowners with energy efficiency

By: Stephanie Derammelaere
January 10, 2020

On Jan. 15 the Rohnert Park Cotati Regional Library will host a workshop aimed at helping residents make their homes energy efficient and resilient. Just one of many workshops that have been facilitated by Sonoma County’s Energy and Sustainability Division, the event will also cover financing options and incentives worth thousands of dollars and will feature a drawing for a free home energy score valued at $350.

The workshops have been offered for several years, originally to educate homeowners on how to finance energy and water conservation measures through line item assessments on property tax bills. 

“This was all towards reducing greenhouse gases in Sonoma County which is our ultimate goal,” says Dori Estrella, Energy Analyst with the Energy and Sustainability Division for the County of Sonoma. “Our workshop series now is specifically geared towards homeowners making those energy improvements. Since we’ve had the wildfires and have been talking about seismic safety we’re expanding the program to include those types of measures, but the workshops really focus on improvements to make your home more resilient and energy efficient.” 

The workshop, which will take place from 6 to 7:30 p.m., will cover topics including evaluating energy use, making a plan, solar photovoltaics, battery back-up systems for storage or when the power goes out, fire hardening and seismic strengthening. The presentation will also include information about alternative financing programs and other resources such as rebates and incentives that are available to homeowners. According to the Energy and Sustainability Division, single-family residents can be eligible for incentives starting at $300 up to $5,000 with the BayREN Home+ Program. Eligible improvements include air sealing, duct sealing, attic insulation, high-efficiency furnaces, cooling systems, and wall insulation, among others.

The Sonoma County Energy and Sustainability Division, in collaboration with the Sonoma County Water Agency (SCWA), Sonoma Clean Power (SCP), and the Sonoma County Libraries, also put together the do-it-yourself toolkits to reduce energy and water usage which are now available in all 12 libraries in the county system. The toolkits include tools and a guidebook to help residents manage their own home energy conservation projects to help save energy, water and money. The kits include items and directions to weather strip windows and doors, monitor electrical usage, find water leaks, install aerators and make homes more efficient with dimmable LED light bulbs and low-flow showerheads.

“We’re super proud of that,” says Estrella. “We always start with learning about what you can do at home, and learning about your energy use, and then moving on to talk about energy improvements you can make and energy audits – the things you can learn to connect deeper on any issues your home might be having, even health wise, to be comfortable in your home.”

The workshops also go in depth on solar systems, and how they work. Given that the county is offering unbiased information, it is a great opportunity for homeowners to evaluate different solar companies, help them understand the process and purchase, and be able to ask questions, without feeling pressured. 

“Now we’ve incorporated the battery back-up systems as we’re seeing more people wanting to do storage with the power shut-offs,” says Estrella. “We want to help homeowners be more resilient and be more prepared for disasters such as wildfire safety or seismic strengthening.”

For more information or to RSVP for the workshop call 707-565-6470 or email GSenergy@sonoma-county.org. For information on future workshops, visit sonomacounty.ca.gov/energy.