What is Community Power Works?
Community Power Works is an innovative pilot program testing new models for energy efficiency in the residential, commercial, and institutional sectors.
We provide a “one-stop shop” for energy upgrades in single-family homes by offering low-cost energy assessments, rebates, financing, and pre-approved contractors.
Our partnership with HomeWise, the City of Seattle’s low-income weatherization program, funds energy efficiency improvements in multifamily buildings.
By June 2013, Community Power Works aims to facilitate energy upgrades for 2070 Seattle homes.
How does Community Power Works work?
It’s as easy as 3 simple steps:
- Step 1 - Sign up for a $95 energy assessment ($400 value). Work with an energy expert to identify upgrade opportunities and incentives, averaging $2,000!
- Step 2 – Connect with approved Community Power Works contractors to do the job. Learn about built-in financing options.
- Step 3 – Receive a free quality assurance inspection. Apply rebates & incentives to the bottom line and enjoy your comfortable home!
Am I eligible to participate in Community Power Works?
That depends on where you live and the age and type of house you live in. Community Power Works is currently able to serve homes that meet the following minimum criteria:
- Located within the Seattle city limits
- Single-family, detached structure (duplexes are permitted)
How is Community Power Works Funded?
Community Power Works is one of 41 Better Buildings Neighborhood projects around the country funded by the U.S. Department of Energy as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act . Community Power Works was awarded $20 million to create a scalable, replicable and self-sustaining model that contributes to the transformation of energy-efficiency finance markets. To learn more, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s BetterBuildings website.
What upgrades can I make through Community Power Works?
We’ve focused on the upgrades that not only save the most energy, but are most likely to make a home more comfortable. This includes, but is not limited to:
- Attic, wall, and floor insulation
- Air Sealing – caulking and sealing gaps and leaks around windows, pipes, electrical outlets and anywhere else that lets in hot or cold air
- Duct Sealing – insulating and sealing gaps in the ducts that move hot or cold air from your heating or cooling system to other parts of your home
- Home Heating – high-efficiency gas furnaces, heat pumps, and ductless heat pumps
- Water Heating – high-efficiency electric water heaters, gas tank water heaters, and tankless on-demand gas water heaters
- Windows – high-efficiency and tight-fitting storm windows
Is solar included among possible Community Power Works upgrades?
Even though solar is not included in the CPW program, many customers have had solar systems installed at the same time as CPW upgrades. If you’re interested in solar here are two options:
- Seattle City Light’s Community Solar program offers rebates and incentives to help homeowners increase their access to solar energy.
- Some Community Power Works-approved contractors also install residential solar systems. If you’d like, we can give you their contact information and you may get in touch with them directly.
How long does the upgrade process take?
Some homeowners have gone through the process in as little as one month. But on average, it is taking about 4 months from the time a homeowner signs up to the end of the process. Part of this depends on you, the homeowner. Some homeowners need more time than others to review their bid and determine financing options before they are comfortable signing them. If you move more quickly than others, you can get through the program in considerably less time.
How much will it cost?
The cost of the upgrades depends on your home’s unique situation. That’s why the first step is to test your home’s performance so we can pinpoint opportunities for energy savings. Homeowners can finance between $1,000 to $50,000 in energy efficiency upgrades using loans offered by Community Power Works partners, Craft3 and Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union.
How do I sign up?
Visit our easy online form to sign up. The sign-up process includes an optional credit check and review of your Seattle City Light bill-payment history (when applying for a Community Power Works loan) so it may be two weeks before we are able to notify you of the results.
Is there any commitment when I sign up?
No. There’s no commitment when you sign up. If you’re approved, you’ll be contacted by a Home Energy Auditor to arrange a time for your discounted home energy assessment. Based on the results, a Community Power Works-approved contractor will follow-up and present you with a custom proposal that includes a cost estimate. At that point you can decide whether to proceed with the work your contractor recommends and choose a financing package if needed.
What happens at the home energy assessment?
Your Community Power Works Energy Auditor will assess the energy performance of your home. This assessment is valued at $400, but costs you just $95 thanks to a special rebate from Seattle City Light. For starters, your Energy Auditor will ask you about your home and review your energy bills. Then they will conduct a thorough inspection to identify ways to reduce your home’s energy waste and improve your home’s comfort. The assessment may include:
- A “crawl through” inspection of insulation in your attic, crawlspace, and other places where energy might escape from the home
- An infrared camera to search for hot and cold spots inside walls
- A building leakage test with blower door to depressurize your house and bring those hidden air leaks to life
- Duct leakage evaluation to assess unseen leaks in the home’s duct system
- A safety test of heating and cooling equipment, including carbon monoxide levels and combustion appliance back-drafts
Your Energy Auditor will then prepare an Energy Performance Score (EPS) report based on the tests completed above. The EPS demonstrates how a home performs relative to benchmarks, much like a car’s mileage rating or the popular Energy Star system. You will receive the report via email within seven days of the completion of the audit.
Do I really need a home energy assessment? Can I skip this step?
The energy assessment is required for participation in Community Power Works. With a professional home energy assessment there’s no guesswork. Your Energy Auditor will pinpoint how to reduce your home’s energy waste and improve your family’s comfort. It’s all spelled out for you in the easy-to-understand Energy Performance Score.
How do contractors work with the program?
Community Power Works program staff work closely with contractors to ensure a high level of customer service and quality assurance. Community Power Works for Home manages a group of qualified contractors based on a series of requirements; including energy upgrade experience, building science and safety training, living wages, and adherence to the program’s Community High-Road Agreement.
Contractors interested in learning more or applying to the Community Power Works for Home contractor pool can find the application and more information about the Community High Road Agreement on our Contractors page.
Do I get to choose my contractor?
Once your application is approved you will be paired with a contractor. If you were referred by a contractor, and during the signup you entered a referral code that they provided to you, then you will be paired with that specific contractor. If a contractor did not refer you and/or during the signup you did not enter a referral code from a contractor, then we will pair you with one of our approved contractors. Of course, you are welcome to select another contractor or receive an additional bid from our list of participating contractors if you like, at any time in the process.
Who are the participating contractors?
You can find a list of participating contractors, as well as resources for contractors interested in participating, on our Contractors page.
How do you select the contractors that are offered?
All contractors that participate in Community Power Works have at least one employee on staff that is certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI)—an independent, not-for-profit organization and the nation’s leading developer of technical standards for home performance and weatherization retrofit work using the House as a System approach. Our contractor partners have also met stringent labor standards to ensure you are working with contractors of the highest integrity. Our contractors and auditors help determine the best solutions for your home’s comfort, indoor air quality, safety, durability and energy efficiency without bias to a specific product or measure.
All Community Power Works Contractors must:
- Employ key staff who are BPI certified
- Commit to pay a living wage
- Pledge to employ highly qualified minority and historically under-represented workers
What if I am unhappy with my contractor and want a different one?
You can change contractors or add additional contractor bids at any time during your home energy upgrade process. Customer choice and satisfaction is of utmost importance to Community Power Works and we strive to help our customers connect with the contractor that best suits their individual needs.
Can I get multiple bids?
When will I receive my bid/cost estimate and financing package?
Your contractor will present these to you after your home energy assessment has been performed. The bid is usually presented between a month and a month and a half after you sign up for the program, depending on scheduling and the measures selected.
Does Community Power Works offer financing to help with the cost of energy efficiency installations?
Yes. You can learn more about loans available for Community Power Works through our lending partners, Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union and Craft3 by visiting our Financing page.
How is Community Power Works different from other rebate programs run by Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy?
Community Power Works offers rebates and customer service that complement programs offered by Seattle City Light and Puget Sound Energy. In addition, single family homes that are not served by utilities for heating fuel are eligible for energy upgrade rebates through Community Power Works.
Why should I upgrade now?
Funding from Community Power Works is only available until September 2013, offering you a limited time to take advantage of the comprehensive assistance, great financing terms, and incentives available through Community Power Works.