The City of Summit Shows Us How Energy Efficiency Programs Are Done

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Older homes have a few requisite mainstays: Uneven temperatures, higher energy bills, and of course, drafty rooms. But in Summit, New Jersey, this is beginning to change.

Once known as “Beacon Hill” because of the bonfires lit on its eastern ridge to warn of advancing British Troops during the Revolutionary War, homes in Summit date back as far as the mid-to-late 1800's.

Home building continued in Summit throughout the early to mid-1900's as the migration out of the congested neighborhoods of the city to the sprawling tree-lined streets of suburbia became all the rage.

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What came to be known in the U.S as the baby boom – included purchasing a newly built home in a suburban neighborhood: Nicely appointed homes with plenty of bedrooms, large closets, sprawling basements, and large open attics with a small amount of insulation scattered about.

Energy Efficiency Upgrades

Today, in addition to installing upgrades like new kitchens and expanded bathrooms, these homes are being examined by a new generation of homeowners seeking opportunities to improve the overall comfort and energy efficiency of the home: Including the availability of improved insulation, heating, air-conditioning, and hot water equipment. But how do homeowners know where to start with these upgrades?

The Summit Home Energy Insight program celebrates its first 100 Home Energy Assessments. 

The Summit Home Energy Insight program celebrates its first 100 Home Energy Assessments. 

Summit Mayor Launches Energy Efficiency Program

Summit Mayor Nora Radest knows. As the city's Mayor and long-time Summit resident, Nora Radest has lived in Summit, along with her husband, for more than twenty five years.

Elected as the Mayor of Summit in 2016, Radest is no stranger to volunteering. From the PTO to the Board of Education, Nora has volunteered her time to numerous civic organizations including the Summit Educational Foundation, The Connection, and the PEP Foundation. It only makes sense that, as one of her first acts as Mayor, she volunteered her own home to the producers at Hometowne TV's “See You Around Town” to help get the word out about Summit's new efficiency program.

Program Participation Surpasses 200 Homes

With supporters like this, it's no surprise the program has easily surpassed the participation goals set by the program's designers. Since the first home energy assessment was performed in early 2016, more than 200 Summit homeowners have had an assessment performed on their home, surpassing the stated goal of the program of 150 assessments.

City of Summit Mayor Nora Radest undergoes a Home Energy Assessment at her home in Summit, New Jersey.

City of Summit Mayor Nora Radest undergoes a Home Energy Assessment at her home in Summit, New Jersey.

Summit's Energy Efficiency Program Receives Statewide Recognition 

Considering all of the sustainability programs happening in Summit, the Summit Home Energy Insight program has likely received the most attention, largely because of its tangible benefit to city homeowners and the overwhelming participation rate the program has experienced.

Last month, the organizers of Summit's Home Energy Insight program participated in a panel discussion highlighting the program's success at the New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference held in Atlantic City.

Program administrators share their success with other municipalities at the 2017 New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference held at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Program administrators share their success with other municipalities at the 2017 New Jersey League of Municipalities Conference held at the Atlantic City Convention Center.

Additionally, earlier this month, the statewide non-profit sustainability organization, Sustainable Jersey, featured the Summit Home Energy Insight program as one of their Sustainability In Action Success Stories.

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40 Summit Homeowners Install Upgrades

Of course, the installation of upgrades is optional, and not all homeowners will elect to move forward with those outlined in their assessment report, but this winter, more than 40 Summit homeowners will celebrate the holidays in a warmer and more efficient home after installing some or all of the recommended energy efficiency upgrades.

To date the Summit Home Energy Insight program has performed more that 200 home energy audits.  To date, 40 Summit homeowners have upgraded the comfort and energy efficiency of their home by installing energy efficiency upgrades recommended in their assessment report.

To date the Summit Home Energy Insight program has performed more that 200 home energy audits.  To date, 40 Summit homeowners have upgraded the comfort and energy efficiency of their home by installing energy efficiency upgrades recommended in their assessment report.

Cash-Back Incentives Available

As a participating provider of the New Jersey Home Performance with Energy Star incentive program, homeowners who install the recommended upgrades in their homes will likely benefit from cash-back incentives of either $2,000, $3,000 or $4,000 towards the cost of their project.

National Energy Efficiency Program

With more than 300,000 households participating in the national Home Performance with Energy Star program to date, New Jersey's version of this award-winning incentive program, administered by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities and the New Jersey Clean Energy program, offers some of the highest upgrade incentives available anywhere in the country.

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While participation in government incentive programs isn't always a pleasant experience, skilled rebate specialists facilitate the paperwork as part of their service offering to deliver the streamlined project you want and expect.

Incentive Financing Options

In addition to the cash-back incentives, the Home Performance with Energy Star program also provides financing for the installation of energy efficiency upgrades.

Depending on the projected energy savings of your project, there are a number of financing options to consider depending on the size, scope, and budget requirements of the project.

Zero Interest Loan

The two most popular financing options available to owners of most older homes include a $5,000 or $10,000 zero-interest loan with payments spread out over the course of seven years.

In many cases, these payments are either partially or entirely offset by savings on seasonal household energy consumption as a result of the efficiency gains realized by the installed improvements.

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Similar Programs Happening Across New Jersey

The company administering Summit's Home Energy Insight program, Ciel Power LLC, has administered similar programs in Princeton, Millburn, Glen Rock, Watchung, Woodbridge, Highland Park, and most recently in Madison and Morristown.

Program Administrator

We asked Ciel's Managing Member, Scott Fischer, about his thoughts on Summit's efficiency program.

“The program is a win-win for everyone concerned,” says Scott. “Summit homeowners benefit from discounted rates on a home energy assessments, safety testing of their existing mechanical equipment, prioritized upgrade recommendations, and incentives that can help take some of the sting out of installing these types of improvements.”

Scott continued, “The community benefits by lowering its collective energy consumption and enjoys the positive impacts associated with fewer household emissions and a cleaner environment.”

“We've enjoyed tremendous support in Summit and I would like to extend a heartfelt 'thank you' to supporters of the program, especially all of the residents that had assessments performed on their homes, particularly those that installed the recommended upgrades.”

Additional Resources

For additional information on the New Jersey Home Performance with Energy Star incentive program, visit www.njcleanenergy.com. To participate in Summit's Home Energy Insight program, visit www.cielpower.com/summit . If you reside outside Summit but would like to have an assessment performed on your home, visit www.cielpower.com.