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A Good Investment - Use Tax Refund to Make Home More Energy Efficient

Friday, April 12, 2013
COLUMBUS, Ohio –  If you’re receiving a refund from the IRS, consider investing it in a place that could save you more money in the future.  Your house.  Using all or some of your tax refund to make your home more energy efficient could pay bigger dividends in the long run.  

“Better insulation, sealing major leaks, purchasing higher more energy efficient appliances, even investing in an energy audit—can reduce what you pay for natural gas for many years,” said Paul Racher, Columbia Gas of Ohio existing buildings program manager.  

Columbia Gas of Ohio offers ways to help homeowners know what areas of the house need improvement.  The utility’s Home Performance Solutions program provides diagnostic energy audits and offers rebates for energy efficiency improvements.

The program offers natural gas-heating customers a low-cost home energy audit and provides generous rebates to make qualified energy efficient improvements—such as attic and wall insulation upgrades; air sealing; high-efficiency gas furnaces or boiler replacements; programmable thermostats; and high-performance, energy-efficient showerheads—more affordable.  

Over the last three years, customers have received more than $9.7 million in rebate dollars, and customer satisfaction is currently at 94 percent.  

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) recently honored Columbia Gas of Ohio at its awards ceremony in Washington D.C. for the Home Performance Solutions program and for the company’s WarmChoice program. They were recognized as Exemplary Programs by the ACEEE Third National Review of Exemplary Energy Efficiency Programs.

WarmChoice is a weatherization program provided at no cost to Columbia Gas of Ohio residential gas-heating customers who meet certain low-income guidelines. Since its inception 25 years ago, the program has reached out to nearly 58,000 low-income households to assist with energy audits and diagnostic home energy inspections. The program targets high-use natural gas households that have higher bills and greater savings opportunities.

Nearly 50 percent of homes in the WarmChoice program receive a replacement heating system due to health and safety reasons. Customers also reduce their natural gas use by an average of 28 percent.

Both WarmChoice and Home Performance Solutions are under the direction of Jack Laverty, Columbia Gas of Ohio’s demand side management manager.  “Columbia Gas of Ohio is very pleased to be recognized for these two programs that have been documented as having tremendous benefit to the home dweller’s well-being, while at the same time making a significant contribution to energy conservation,” said Laverty.  “We are especially pleased that we can help the homeowner make improvements to the home that have a direct impact on household expenses.”  

Executive Director of ACEEE Steven Nadel remarked, “Columbia Gas of Ohio has helped residents improve energy efficiency regardless of their household income level and has been exemplary in monitoring, tracking and making improvements to these programs.  The WarmChoice and Home Performance Solutions programs, along with several other programs we recognized as exemplary, are prototypes that other natural gas utilities should consider adopting.”  
About Columbia Gas of Ohio
Columbia Gas of Ohio safely delivers clean and efficient natural gas to approximately 1.4 million customers in 61 of Ohio’s 88 counties. With headquarters in Columbus, it is one of the seven energy distribution companies of NiSource Inc. (NYSE: NI) and is the largest natural gas utility in the state. Columbia Gas of Ohio offers a variety of programs designed to help its residential and small business customers save energy and money on their energy bills, while maintaining the comfort of their homes and businesses and doing something positive for the environment at the same time. For more information about Columbia’s energy-efficiency programs, visit Save Energy & Money!

The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization that acts as a catalyst to advance energy efficiency policies, programs, technologies, investments, and behaviors. ACEEE was founded in 1980 by leading researchers in the energy field. Projects are carried out by ACEEE staff and collaborators from government, the private sector, research institutions, and other nonprofit organizations.