Up to $6,300 rebates available for home energy upgrades

Rebates are available to make your home more energy efficient which in turn will save money

Berkeley residents can claim rebates up to the value of $6,300 for implementing energy efficiency upgrades to their homes. And they can learn all about the what, where and how at a Berkeley Home Energy Efficiency Forum happening tomorrow, November 2nd, in Berkeley.

The City of Berkeley has partnered with Energy Upgrade California to offer the workshop as a one-stop shop for all Alameda County homeowners to find contractors, get information about the rebates and tax credits available and have all their questions answered.

Residents will get a chance to meet participating contractors who are trained and ready to work on their home, as well as homeowners who have already made energy improvements to their homes.

Some key facts about homes and energy consumption:

  • The average home loses approximately 40% of their energy through leaks in the home.
  • Indoor air quality is 2-5 times worse than outdoor air quality according to the EPA.
  • Basic upgrades for homes include air sealing, attic insulation, duct sealing, hot water pipe insulation, thermostatic shower control, combustion safety testing and installing smoke detectors.
  • Advanced upgrades for homes include high efficiency furnace, energy efficient cooling, water heater and windows, wall insulation and installing a cool roof.

The Berkeley Home Energy Efficiency Forum takes place Wednesday November 2nd, 6:30 – 8:30 pm, at the YMCA Teen Center, 2111 Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, bookmark Berkeleyside’s recently launched Events Calendar. We encourage you also to submit your own events.

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  • Bradley Froehle

    And what about the half of Berkeley who rents their house?
    Currently there is little or no incentive for landlords to upgrade the energy efficiency of their properties because most tenants are paying the utility bills.

  • Anonymous

    So very true.  I wish I had double-pane windows in my apartment.  Instead I have single panes that are completely soaked with condensation every morning (and throughout most of the day).

  • Bruce Love

    What a small world!

    The web portal — energyupgrade.org — along with some of the services behind it, are provided by a private third party firm called “Renewable Funding”.   When you hand over private information to that site you hand it over to them.   They say they’ll introduce you to lenders and contractors and so forth.

    Renewable Funding’s president and one of its founders is none other than Cisco DeVries who was for a time the chief of staff to Mayor Tom Bates.

    Do you remember BerkeleyFirst?  That was a program in which Berkeley homeowners could take out (what turned out to be) relatively high interest loans to finance solar projects — with the loan payments tacked on to their property taxes (and so heritable by future owners).   Because the interest rates were high, the program was supposed to appeal to homeowners who already had a lot of debt against their homes — other homeowners can and did find more affordable financing.  The city would “bundle” these loans, assert (unlawfully, it turned out) that these loans had priority over outstanding mortgages, and sell taxpayer guaranteed bonds to lenders to finance the projects.   It promised to be a “free” (for taxpayers) way to finance solar upgrades in Berkeley assuming that the housing bubble wouldn’t burst and assuming that the mortgage regulators wouldn’t object and put a stop to it. 

    The housing bubble burst and also mortgage regulators objected and put a stop to it.

    Renewable Funding acted as general facilitator for programs like BerkeleyFirst, helping to bring together lenders and municipalities.   They also took a bit off the back end:  in Berkeley, they bought approximately $1.5 million worth of the Berkeley bonds they’d helped to design.

    That didn’t work out too well when programs like BerkeleyFirst (aka PACE programs) got shut down nation-wide.  The Federal Housing Finance Agency basically told them to f-off.

    In some states PACE programs went on to try to reconstitute without the loan primacy — that is, in the event of a foreclosure, the energy loan would not take priority over the primary mortgage.

    In California, we went a different way — and the Energy Upgrade California is that way.   Once again, Renewable Funding is acting as the market maker, aggregating demand for credit and trying to leverage municiple support for loans for profit.

    And to think it all started right here in the current mayor’s office.

    (Note: I think that simple energy efficiency upgrades to homes are probably one of The Most Important — almost crisis-level — challenges we should take on as a community, city, county, state, and nation.   I think that sensibly aggregating financing demand is part of the solution here but I also think that many steps can be usefully taken which don’t require that.   I think that BerkeleyFirst and first-generation PACE were shockingly ill-conceived and were tainted by conflicts of interest like DeVries’ path from the mayor’s office to Renewable Funding.  So I’m highly skeptical of Energy Upgrade California and the web of relationships around it.)

  • EBGuy

    Nice job BL.  I’d rant about solar leasing programs, but I think you’ve said enough for now.

  • Bruce Love

    EBGuy, I would not have learned the issue without the support and encouragement of a good editor:


  •  Good editors don’t usually harass their staff into leaving and then run their newspapers into the ground.

  • I doubt your building owner would complain if you wanted to hire a contractor and get the necessary permits and pay for window upgrades in your rented apartment or home. Then you could apply for those rebates yourself.


  • [deleted due to Disqus double-posting error]

  • Condensation isn’t necessarily going to go away by adding glass panes.  It happens because of a difference in the humidity of the air between the two sides.  So, if you have two people sleeping in a room — exhaling humid air — you’d expect to see some condensation on the windows, even double sided windows, especially when it’s cool outside.  Same thing if you have a bathroom or kitchen without good venting to the outside.  Cooking and showering add humidity that WILL condense where the temperature barrier is.   Insulation, such as dual pane glass and wall/attic insulation and air sealing can make this problem WORSE.  That’s why “super insulated” houses often have some kind of moisture control to vent excess humidity from inside.  They may often have a way to draw in fresh air (with a heat exchanger to warm it) so that air quality doesn’t suffer, but that’s another story.

    If you have that much condensation, you might try some cheaper ways of reducing humidity in those rooms — open the window for an hour or two, or run a dehumidifier.

  • Chris

    I got my walls and attic insulated and this program paid 2/3 of the cost. The best part is my house is quieter due to the wall insulation. I’m a happy “customer”…

  • Charles_Siegel

    “Note: I think that simple energy efficiency upgrades to homes are
    probably one of The Most Important — almost crisis-level — challenges
    we should take on as a community, city, county, state, and nation.   I
    think that sensibly aggregating financing demand is part of the solution

    Aggregating financing seems to be working in some places:

    “Open Neighborhoods organization in Los Angeles has organized another
    group purchase of residential and commercial solar PV, bringing the cost
    of solar incredibly close to the cost of grid power. With grid prices
    constantly rising, the lifetime savings of going solar have never looked
    …Even with solar typically being cheaper in California, the group
    advertises savings of as much as 33% on a residential solar array.”

    They are saying that it is very close to the current price of grid power, and they predict that it will save money over the life of the solar panels, as the cost of grid power goes up. See the graph at:

  • Bruce Love

    Thanks.  Very interesting.

    The underlying organization you are talking about is here:


    They look pretty interesting.  Do you know any more about them?  Can you “follow the money” there?

    I’m wondering if they don’t have a model we could import for permaculture / transition town kind of stuff.

    Conversely, I’m wondering if they aren’t in some hidden way corruptly taxpayer subsidized.

  • EBGuy

    With subsidies in California, anyone who uses AC (ie – above baseline usage) could benefit from solar panels on their roof. We’re beyond parity; that’s why VCs are throwing money at solar leasing firms (they also have the added advantage of being able to depreciate the assets).

  • Indeed. I get condensation on the outside of the double-paned windows on my house all the time.

  • Charles_Siegel

    Sorry, I don’t know any more about them.  I just happened to read a news article about them, and I passed it on.  Always happy to read a bit of good news for a change.

  • Bruce Love

    Not usually.  Sometimes, though.

  • Liza

    I’ll believe it when I see it.  Remember that ME2/GETS program, where the City of Berkeley was supposed to offer incentives/rebates for energy efficiency upgrades, and supposedly EVERY home in south and west berkeley qualified?  I filled out the application (twice) never heard a single thing about it.  I called the City, called Rising Sun Energy Center, never got any response at all.  Eventually Rising Sun changed their website to say that you have to pay $200 – $300 deposit (the deposit amount has changed) – I called back, again, asking if I needed to fill out a new application in order to send them a deposit or if they had my old one on file – no response. 

    I would be perfectly happy to shell out a deposit, but the complete and total lack of communication from either the City OR their partners at Sun Energy don’t really inspire confidence that a deposit will ever, ever lead to a rebate.  I’m curious if anyone got anywhere with this program?

  • Dave W.

    I wonder if Community Energy Services Corporation has a relationship with Energy Upgrade California. CESC is another city-supported group. Its former director, Nancy Hoeffer, was terminated for unspecified financial improprieties. She is now on the BSEP P&O committee. A person with that sort of history should not be given the responsibility for oversight of our BSEP money.

  • Suerable

    Get rid of nancy