Museum honors Arthur Wilcox

Wilcox

Now is the time of year when friends and family who live farther north generally tend to regard our weather with a mix of disgust and envy.

So it might be difficult to think seriously about home energy improvements.

But we get our share of chilly nights. If you can hear or feel the wind even when the door's shut, now might be a good time to make those changes. The same leaks that are freezing you out in the winter are probably making your air conditioner work overtime in the summer.

It doesn't have to be that way, and you don't have to foot the bill all by yourself.

Stacking savings

Homeowners can apply through the CharlestonWISE website (charlestonwise.org) to get a home assessment with a report on how much energy could be saved by making various improvements.

As David Slade reported Monday, CharlestonWISE recently has expanded to include all Charleston County residents. The Sustainability Institute program has rebates available for energy improvements that cut a home's energy consumption by 15 percent or more.

More than 70 people had called about the program by mid-day Monday, and about an equal number had applied online, said institute program director Renee Patey.

OK, so maybe the holidays aren't the best time to be trying to find extra money for home improvements. But you don't have to have the work done right away. By applying now, you essentially reserve the rebates.

True, the rebates won't be around forever, but the Sustainability Institute is committed to providing some kind of ongoing incentive.

"I would encourage them to go ahead now and get into the system and make the improvements when the time is right," Patey said. For some people, now might be the time. Or maybe the time is when you get your income tax refund.

And because there are other rebate programs through utility providers, such as SCE&G and Santee Cooper, homeowners have a chance to maximize their savings. Think of it like stacking coupons: instead of using a store coupon and a manufacturer coupon, you get a CharlestonWISE rebate and an electric company rebate for the same improvements.

Short- and long-term savings

If you're available at 6 p.m. today, you can attend this month's energy-efficiency workshop at Bible Way Baptist Church, 2019 Savage Road in Charleston. The next one is at 6 p.m. Jan. 19 at The Charleston Jewish Community Center, 1645 Raoul Wallenberg Blvd. (Reserve your spot for either one by calling 529-3421.)

The free workshops emphasize how to reduce energy use and decrease utility costs, Patey said.

"Everybody can go home and do things that night to help them save energy in their house," Patey said.

And the best part might not be the reduced carbon footprint or the cost savings (though nobody can afford to air-condition the entire Lowcountry on their own, after all.)

Patey said people who've completed the improvements say their homes are just plain more comfortable to live in. Who doesn't want that?

Reach Digital Editor Melanie Balog at mbalog@postandcourier.com or 937-5565.