Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Fayette County Gets $4.1 million for ‘BetterBuildings’

Homeowners in “Coal Patch” towns in Fayette County can start tapping into $4.1 million in federal grant money aimed at helping to improve their home’s energy efficiency. The US Department of Energy says the money will be spent within the next 2.5 years. DOE BetterBuildings Program Manager Danielle Byrnett says home owners will be able to tap into different levels of support based on their income. All homeowners will be eligible for a free home energy evaluation that will determine where energy can be saved. Higher income families will be eligible for rebates while lower income homeowners will be able to tap into the pot of money to fully fund upgrades such as new insulation, and new energy efficient furnaces and refrigerators.

Homeowners need to apply directly to the Redevelopment Authority of the County of Fayette. After filling out the one-page form homeowners should expect to hear back within four weeks, says Byrnett. The DOE expects Fayette County to be able to help more than 1,000 homeowners.

Byrnett says there are several reasons why the DOE wants to make homes more energy efficient. “Getting home energy efficiency improvements allow homeowners to save energy, which improves the environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants,” says Byrnett, “its also better for communities and homeowners who end up being much more comfortable and have typically improved health and safety in their homes as well.” She says it is also good for homeowners to have a little extra money in their pockets after paying the energy bills.

The Private Industry Council of Westmorland/Fayette will also be providing free training for up to 60 students to become “Building Performance Institute Certified.” The first class will begin later this month. Byrnett says there are many contractors trained in looking at different aspects of energy efficiency but not many who can take the holistic approach that is needed. She says these newly trained workers will be a great legacy left by the program.

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