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Energy help: State program offers rebates for upgrades

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Posted: Wednesday, December 12, 2012 11:21 pm | Updated: 4:15 pm, Fri Jan 25, 2013.

Fairbanks Daily News-Miner editorial

Every gallon of fuel oil you don’t have to burn is a gallon you don’t have to buy.

There is no simple and overall solution to the energy problems in Fairbanks, but one of the simplest and most direct actions for individuals to take is to conserve.

To increase energy efficiency, the Alaska Housing Finance Corp. has a program that pays real dividends.

If you own a home and have not taken part in the home energy rebate plan, it’s an excellent opportunity to have the state provide a rebate of up to $10,000 for energy-efficient improvements that will reduce your fuel bills.

The first step is to request an energy rating by going to www.akrebate.com or calling 1-877-REBATE. There is about a six-week waiting period to get a rating once you get on the list.

Statewide about 775 homes are on the waiting list, with about 65 of those in the Fairbanks and North Pole areas.

An energy rater will visit your home, perform an audit of its insulation qualities and suggest specific steps that would make it more energy efficient. You pay the energy rater and submit a form to AHFC with details on what you plan to do. Up to $325 of the cost of the audit will be reimbursed by the state agency.

In the meantime, you can select from the measures suggested by the auditor and improve the efficiency of your home. These can range from adding insulation and weather stripping to a new furnace.

The amount of the rebate is determined by how much improvement is shown in the energy efficiency of the building, based on an energy rating scale developed for Alaska. The greater the improvement, the higher the rebate. Statewide, the average rebate has been more than $6,500.

If you can’t afford to make the energy improvements, AHFC has a loan program you can use to borrow up to $30,000 on a second mortgage.

In a study released earlier this year on rebates issued since 2008, the average home energy savings in Fairbanks and other northern Railbelt communities was estimated at more than 25 percent, ranging from about $2,000 to $3,000 per year.

About 3,000 homes have been audited over the past four years in the Fairbanks area, which means that thousands of other homeowners have yet to seize this chance to do something now about energy costs.

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