By Rep. Chuck Kruger
September 16, 2010
Last years winter was fairly mild compared to what Mainers are used to. Heavy snowfalls and bitter temperatures that usually weigh down on our state were mostly absent. And although the Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a moderate winter for some areas, New England cannot expect the same. Instead, they predict we are to have a bone chilling winter, which is never good for anyone trying to save money in these difficult times. Therefore, it is critical that Maine stay ahead of the curve in developing better weatherization techniques and strategies.
Over the past several sessions, the legislature has worked hard to promote energy efficiency and home weatherization. This session the legislature enacted legislation to consolidate several energy efficiency programs into the Efficiency Maine Trust. The trust is an independent program run by a board of directors that was created to oversee the states efficiency programs.
One of the programs from Efficiency Maine is the Home Energy Savings Program. This program provides up to $4,500 for approved energy efficiency projects, regardless of income, with new incentives. This opportunity is only available for a limited time and eligible residences include multi-unit structures (up to four units) with a maximum of three stories. Some of the eligibility requirements include homes being heated year-round and energy audits and efficiency improvements must be performed by an approved contractor.
There is also a renewable energy incentive program that provides direct cash incentives for wind energy systems, as well as solar heating or electrical systems that have been installed by professionals. However, in order to receive these incentives from Efficiency Maine your building needs to be connected to the power grid. Wind and solar energy are two great efficient energy sources for Mainers to consider during these financially difficult times.
Maine State Housing Authority has a weatherization program and Central Heating Improvement Program (CHIP) that they have been promoting to those lower-income homeowners and renters. These programs provide grants to encourage owners and renters to reduce energy costs by improving home energy efficiency. Weatherization improvements that qualified residents can do include weather stripping, caulking and some safety-related repairs. CHIP grants can be used to repair or even replace a central heating system.
Another program specifically for those with lower incomes is the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). This program provides money to assist low-income homeowners and renters pay for heating costs. Those who are eligible include those with a household income that falls within 230 percent of the federal poverty guidelines or 75 percent of the state area median income, whichever is less. These numbers can be found at Maine Housing. With a long cold winter ahead of us, this program is ideal for those who need the help.
To find out more about these programs, visit at: Efficiency Maine or Maine State Housing Authority.
Also, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions about energy efficiency programs or any other local and state issues and I will do my best to assist you. I look forward to hearing from you and working hard on your behalf.
Rep. Chuck Kruger represents South Thomaston, St. George, Thomaston and Matinicus Isle in District 48 in the Maine House of Representatives. He can be reached at 354-8159 or at Rep. Kruger.