Home energy efficiency possible through state loan program

This past season not included, high daily temperatures in Portland, Maine average figures that are below freezing. Maine residents that live further from the coast – where extreme temperatures are not moderated by ocean currents – may have an even more difficult time staying warm. With this in mind, Maine officials have announced a new program that should help homeowners rein in their energy costs.

The PowerSaver program – launched by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) in conjunction with local energy solutions provider Efficiency Maine – will provide homeowners with 4.99 percent interest loans to fund home energy efficiency projects that save homeowners at least 20 percent off of their prior energy bills. There are no limitations to projects homeowners can embark on, as long as they create worthwhile savings.

"Mainers should not wait until next winter to fix their homes," Evergreen Home Performance owner Richard Burbank told The Associated Press. "High heating oil process and a cold winter next heating season could devastate homeowners in Maine. Now is the time to weatherize."

Across the nation, programs like this are springing up, and they should be utilized by those homeowners with extreme heating or cooling needs. Inefficient windows, doors, insulation and HVAC systems can undermine other improvements that homeowners make.

In the Tri-State area, the pain that comes with harsh winter weather could be compounded by high energy bills that are mostly avoidable. By hiring a Washington, D.C. home inspector to conduct an energy audit, homeowners can learn about simple ways to trim their energy usage. Whether they install energy-efficient lighting or prefer more involved enhancements, they should be able to see savings almost immediately.