This week members of the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) Cupertino/Sunnyvale District learned many California cities like Sunnyvale, and regional resources like the Bay Area Regional Energy Network, want to get the word out to homeowners that they can reduce energy and get cash incentives and rebates if they perform energy upgrades.

Nupur Hiremath, sustainability coordinator for the City of Sunnyvale, told members reducing greenhouse gas emissions is a key component of the city’s Climate Action Plan. By taking action to reduce their energy consumption, residents benefit with lower water and energy bills, increased property values and improved comfort in their homes. The city benefits, too, because Sunnyvale is one of 50 cities and counties competing as a semi-finalist in the Georgetown University Energy Prize of $5 million dollars for future energy-saving programs.

Hiremath said Sunnyvale’s Energy Efficiency Retrofit Grant Program provides homeowners with dollar-for-dollar matching grants of up to $5,000 for eligible energy efficiency upgrades like wall, floor and attic insulation, air-sealing, caulking and weather stripping, replacing light bulbs with high-efficient CFLs, home energy audit, insulation of water pipes, installation of energy efficient windows, furnaces and water heaters. The work must be done by a City of Sunnyvale licensed contractor. Applicants must meet income requirements. The City also offers loans to help homeowners make energy and safety improvements.

Sunnyvale residents may check out a Do-It-Yourself Home Energy-Saving Kit from the Sunnyvale Public Library. The kit contains supplies and devices that can help measure and lower utility bills and energy use. Residents get to keep free items from the kit, such as fluorescent light bulbs, faucet aerators, a low-flow showerhead, outlet gaskets, weather stripping and water leak detection tablets.

San Mateo County energy efficiency specialist Rachael Londer shared information about the California Home Energy Upgrade Program, which offers rebates and incentives for home energy upgrades, provides free home upgrade advisors to help homeowners, and connects them to trained participating contractors. Eligible improvements include air sealing, duct sealing, insulation, installing a high-efficiency furnace, air conditioners, water heaters and windows. Rebates are based on a point system. The more points you have by combining upgrades, the higher the incentives you receive. Incentives are awarded at $10 per point up to a maximum of $3,000. Applicants need not meet any income requirement.

Studies show the market value of a home increases as much as $25 for every $1 decrease in annual utility bills. Both Hiremath and Londer said REALTORS® can guide buyers and sellers to consider energy efficiency home remodel decisions. They urged them to share the information on energy efficiency programs with their clients.

REALTORS® can visit the San Mateo County Office of Sustainability website  and click on the “For Realtors” tab for information on energy upgrades and rebates which they can share with their clients. To learn more about the program or find a participating contractor, visit Homeowners can also call a Home Upgrade Advisor at (866) 878-6008.