Home Improvement Options in Fairbanks

BY Susan Keltner, Portal On Retrofits Training And Loans
Energy Focus: Fairbanks Daily News-Miner December 18th, 2008, Section A3

Have you decided on a New Year’s resolution yet? Here’s an idea: resolve to make your home more energy efficient in 2009. It’ll save you money, make your home more comfortable and more valuable. Afraid you’ll lose motivation by the time spring rolls around? Not a problem. Now is actually a great time to start planning improvements.

You can start making good on your resolution by visiting the Portal on Retrofits Training and Loans (PORTAL). The PORTAL offers free help to homeowners wanting to gain access to the knowledge and programs that can help improve home energy efficiency.

PORTAL staff can help you pick a program that will make the process a little easier on your wallet. If you meet certain income requirements you might be eligible for the weatherization program that will make energy upgrades for you at no cost. Alaska Housing Finance Corporation (AHFC)’s Home Energy Efficiency Rebate program is available without income requirements and offers up to $10,000 back for improving your home’s energy rating.

To be eligible for rebate you must first have your home rated by a certified rater. Don’t worry too much about the wait or the cost. The average wait time for an appointment for a rater has been reduced to just weeks and most, if not all, of the cost of the rating will be reimbursed by AHFC. PORTAL staff is available to help you schedule an energy rating.

The energy rater will evaluate the energy efficiency of your home and recommend improvements. The amount of the rebate is based on the amount of improvement. For example, if you were to bring your home from a 2 star plus to a 3 star, you’d be eligible for $4,000 back after you’ve made the improvements. However, if you brought your house up from a 2 star plus to a 4 star you’d be eligible for $7,500 back. PORTAL staff is available to help you understand your energy rating.

You can start making upgrades to your home as soon as you receive your energy rating and you have a full 18 months to complete your projects. You are able to perform the work yourself, but you’ll want to make sure the job is done right or you may not achieve the energy savings or rebate you expected. The PORTAL offers free classes to help homeowners understand important energy efficiency retrofit considerations. These classes are helpful for both those going through the rebate program and homeowners who want to learn more about improving the energy efficiency of their home.

Even if you are not going to consider retrofitting until summer, now is a good time to start planning. It is expected that retrofitters and other specialty contractors will be in high demand this construction season. The PORTAL can help direct you to licensed and bonded contractors.

If you need help paying for the improvements now is a good time to line up your financing. AHFC has a second mortgage loan up to $30,000 and many banks are offering special home improvement loans as well.

The final step in the rebate program is to have a certified energy rater perform a post rating (AHFC will reimburse most or all of this amount). PORTAL staff is available to help you schedule a post rating and help you fill out your rebate paperwork.

AHFC will review your paperwork and send a rebate check. However, the real reward is in knowing you made a New Year’s resolution you actually followed through with AND it paid off.

For more information call the PORTAL at 455-HEAT (455-4328) or stop in at 326 Driveway Street in downtown Fairbanks.