Last updateThu, 18 Jan 2018 4pm


Energy rebates chase away winter bills and chills

Photo By: Courtesy of Green Town Los Altos
Photo Courtesy Of Green Town Los Altos Contractor Ryan Church of AVA Construction performs a blower door test to determine the amount of air leakage in a house.

It’s no fun checking your mailbox these days, because holiday bills have taken the place of holiday cards. It’s cold outside, and you’re chilly inside, keeping the thermostat down so that your energy bill doesn’t shoot through the roof.

But the news isn’t all dreary. You can save up to 40 percent on your PG&E bill, help the environment by conserving water and energy, and make your home more comfortable, all at the same time.

GreenTown Los Altos has scheduled a free Home EnergyUpgrade Workshop to review money-saving programs 7-8:30 p.m. Feb. 1 at the Neutra House, 183 Hillview Ave., Los Altos. To register, visit losaltos-euc.eventbrite.com.

One program, Energy Upgrade California, enables homeowners to take advantage of substantial energy rebates from their utilities – up to $4,000 in incentives with PG&E’s Advanced Upgrade Package. Currently, the rebates are designed for single-family homes.

For a typical California home built before the 1980s, energy efficiency wasn’t part of the equation.

“Energy was cheap, and the consequences of producing and using energy were not widely understood,” said Faye Rachford, an energy upgrade specialist with Energy Upgrade California. “Now, however, we look at the home as a system. We recommend that you begin with an energy assessment. As the saying goes, ‘If you can measure it, you can manage it.’”

Rachford will present details of the program at the workshop.

Los Altos Hills residents can analyze their energy use from the comfort of their own homes. The High-Energy Homes (HEH) program is available through Acterra at no cost to five local communities, including Los Altos Hills. HEH is a web-based software tool that can analyze a homeowner’s energy use in 15 minutes. It identifies hidden energy users, such as electronics that are turned off but still drawing power, pool pumps, recirculation pumps and many others. The analysis can determine if you are a good candidate for the energy-upgrade program, which focuses on heating and cooling efficiency.

“I was pleasantly surprised at the detail of information provided by the analysis,” said Keith Burtscher, a general contractor. “It gave us additional information about which upgrade strategies would be cost-effective in a format that was easy for the homeowner to understand. … It helped us decide what we’re going to do.”

There are three qualifications for the HEH program: You’ve lived in your home for at least a year, you have not installed solar and you have a PG&E SmartMeter. Steve Schmidt, Los Altos Hills resident and the architect of Acterra’s HEH program, will provide a program overview as part of the workshop agenda.

Margie Suozzo, chair of GreenTown Los Altos, invited residents of Los Altos and Los Altos Hills to learn more about the audits and rebates. "GreenTown is offering $50 online audits by High Energy Audits, Inc., for the first 50 homes in Los Altos that sign up to use this tool to assess their energy use. It's a quick way to learn if your home can benefit from the energy-upgrade program. But don't take it from me; come hear from the experts at our Feb. 1 workshop or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Peg Champion is a member of GreenTown Los Altos and principal of Champion Organic Communications. For more information, visit www.ChampionOrganic.com.

Learn more about home energy upgrades

• For details on GreenTown’s free Home Energy Upgrade Workshop, visit greentownlosaltos.org/news-events/upcoming-events.

• To register for the workshop, visit losaltos-euc.eventbrite.com.

• For a description of Acterra’s High-Energy Homes program, visit www.acterra.org/programs/highenergy/index.html.

• For information on PG&E Basic and Advanced Upgrades, visit energyupgradeca.org/images/customer/california/tour.swf.

• To subscribe to the newsletter or to become a member of GreenTown Los Altos, visit greentownlosaltos.org.


– Peg Champion

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