Alaska Housing Finance Corp adds $10K energy rebate
June 20, 2013
On July 1, Alaska Housing Finance Corp., or AHFC, will add a sixth, $10,000 level to its Home Energy Rebate Program for new home construction, the state finance authority announced.
Currently, the highest level a new home can achieve for energy efficiency is the 5 Star Plus rating, which awards homeowners up to a $7,500 rebate for investments made to reduce home energy usage. The 5 Star Plus rebate will drop to $7,000 on July 1, as well.
“Previously, we had a system that rated homes on a hundred-point scale, zero to 100, and the top 92 to 100 points was our 5 Star Plus,” AHFC energy program spokesman Jimmy Ord said. “So we took the upper echelon of 5 Star Plus homes and went from 95 to 100 points is now 6 Star.”
At a June 12 presentation to the public policy forum Commonwealth North, AHFC Executive Director and CEO Dan Fauske said rebates have been awarded for more than 1,900 5 Star-rated homes since the program’s inception in 2008.
Ord added that “not many” of the homes enrolled in the Home Energy Rebate would have met the 6 Star requirements.
The additional level to the new home rebate was done to further incentivize homebuilders and buyers to invest right away in energy efficiency, according to Ord. It was also done in conjunction with a rebuild of the computer program used to calculate a home’s energy rating, he said.
This was done in an effort to incorporate renewable energy generated for home use into a home’s net energy use. Ord explained a scenario in which a home may not meet 6 Star efficiency standards, but solar panels or a small wind turbine offsets the energy loss and qualifies the home for the maximum rebate.
“Builders have a product to sell,” Ord said. “It takes an informed consumer to ask for an energy efficient product and a lot of times people buy things on the up front cost as opposed to the operating cost — same thing with homes.”
When the $51.5 million appropriated in the recent state capital budget to AHFC’s Home Energy Rebate and Weatherization programs is added to the total, the state has contributed roughly $500 million to AHFC for energy efficiency, Fauske said.
Homeowners applying for the existing Home Energy Rebate have received an average rebate of $6,389 Fauske said. They can apply for up to a $10,000 rebate. The final rebate amount is determined by the home’s energy rating after the efficiency improvements are implemented.
Fauske said changes made to existing homes have saved homeowners an average of $1,464 per year over the life of the program. He also cited a University of Alaska Institute of Social and Economic Research study that found 12 permanent jobs were generated for every $1 million the Legislature has appropriated to the rebate program.
“(The rebate) program, I will defend it whenever someone wants to sit down and have a debate with me. I’ve never seen a better use of public money. Not only are you reducing the use of energy, you’re improving the quality of the home stock,” Fauske said.
AHFC’s energy rebate program is unique to Alaska, Fauske said.
“We stand alone in the country on this program. We have advised other states; we’ve advised the federal government. We’ve been copied, we’ve been emulated and we share the data,” he said.
The change to the new construction rebate coincides with the implementation of an April decision by the AHFC board of directors to increase the Building Energy Efficiency Standards, or BEES, for homes, according to the corporation’s release. BEES sets energy standards for thermal resistance, air leakage, moisture protection and ventilation. Ord said all homes financed by AHFC are audited and must meet BEES.
Elwood Brehmer can be reached at [email protected].