(Source: By Alex Breitler, The Record, Stockton, Calif (MCT) – STOCKTON – When Fritz Grupe started building houses in the 1960s, energy efficiency standards were pretty modest.
“You needed to put 2 inches of insulation in the ceiling and none in the walls,” he said this week. “That was the code. Because the utility bills in those days were eight bucks a month.”
We can yearn for those good old days, Grupe said, or we can bring all those good old homes up to code to make summertime energy bills – and summertime heat – more bearable.
Grupe’s Green Home Solutions and the Bank of Stockton have partnered on a new low-cost loan program to help residents do just that, hopefully saving enough money on their utility bills each month to offset the cost of paying off the loan.
Grupe said he hopes the program will also help Stockton in its ambitious goal to retrofit 8,500 homes – almost 10 percent of the city’s housing stock – by the end of 2013. (Homeowners outside the city also could be eligible.) “That’s a lot of homes, unless we have a plan,” Grupe said. “It’s not a lot of homes if we do have a plan.”
Equally important is getting people to understand that plan. Recent efforts such as the Stockton Energy Challenge, in which advocates canvassed Lincoln Village West to see if large-scale retrofits could be achieved in a single neighborhood, failed to gain momentum.
“People should be doing this, but if they don’t know they can do it, they won’t,” Grupe said.
The new loan program includes 15-year financing at a 5 percent interest rate the first seven years and 6 percent for the duration of the loan. A $10,000 loan would end up costing homeowners about $80 a month. “You could knock that off your utility bills,” Grupe said.
An energy assessment would be conducted first to determine what work needs to be done and whether it really would be cost-effective. The assessment is free if residents proceed with the retrofit; otherwise, it costs $99, said Mark Fischer, CEO of Green Home Solutions.
That organization completed more than 130 retrofits last year under a state program that offered similar low-interest loans but has since expired.
This new program will take its place, Fischer said. “When the city’s going through a rough time, this is a way to help homeowners live comfortably in their homes and, quite frankly, put a lot of people to work,” he said.
The new program, backed by $25 million in state assistance for lenders, is expected to be available for a couple of years.
Contact reporter Alex Breitler at (209) 546-8295 or email@example.com. Visit his blog at recordnet.com/breitlerblog.
©2012 The Record (Stockton, Calif.)
Visit The Record (Stockton, Calif.) at www.recordnet.com
Distributed by MCT Information Services