Austinites Try to Remain Financially and Physically Cool as the Central Texas Summer Heats Up

May 19, 2010 (PRLEAP.COM) Lifestyle News
Coming off one of Austin's hottest summers ever, some Austinites are preparing for this summer by making a forward looking financial decision to weatherize their homes. The summer heat could mean high energy costs, so by weatherizing their homes and taking other efficiency measures, they hope to insure that their utility bills will be lower and their home more comfortable. With Austin Energy's rebates and Federal tax credits often covering close to half of the upgrades' expense, property owners are getting these improvements at a cost that could pay for itself within a couple of years.

William Marshall, owner of Austin Auditors and manager of the the Texas E Team, has seen an up tick in business and he thinks it's partly because the weather has started to warm. "Well, with the heat, peoples' homes become less comfortable and their bills get more expensive. Then they start thinking, why is my house hot? Or, man, my bill last month sure was high. That usually provides them with the impetus to give us a call. The same thing happens when it starts to get cold in the winter," said Marshall.

According to Marshall, Austinites can often expect to pay for their home's upgrades through energy savings within a couple of years of having work done. "A lot of Austin's housing stock is from before 1985 and those houses are just begging to get efficiency upgrades. I think people would be amazed at how little money it takes to get big savings on your monthly City of Austin bill," said Marshall.

The City of Austin has one of the most lucrative rebate programs in the nation. Austin Energy rebates are available on a great number of home improvements, such as attic insulation, solar screens and film, air conditioning duct sealing, solar photo-voltaic electric systems, and more.

Summer time often brings higher demands on the electrical grid and along with the increased demand comes increased prices. But Austin Energy's rate increases would not necessarily be a seasonal occurrence, as Austin Energy expects to have a major electrical rate increase some time before 2012. This comes due to the fact that Austin Energy has not substantially increased rates for 15 years. At the recommendation of City Manager Marc Ott, Austin Energy expects to hire outside consultants who will, among other things, help determine the rate increase.

The confluence of rebates and expected increases in electrical rates makes the time ripe for Austinites to do the "green" thing and go through with their home upgrades. Marshall suggests that they hire an energy auditor to perform a home energy audit on their home prior to making upgrades. "People often have a misconception as to where they should spend their money. Without fail, when I go to someone's house they will think that replacing the windows and insulating the walls are of primary importance. Actually, in our climate, it will be the rare occasion when a homeowner will see savings that are equal to the cost of doing either of those things," said Marshall. According to Marshall, an energy auditor can find the inefficiencies in a home, help the owner prioritize the upgrades, and often facilitate or execute the upgrades and the rebate process. "I would be wary though because the market is flush with people who have entered this business and you most often get what you pay for. I would recommend assuring the individual or company you hire is reputable and not just looking for a quick buck," said Marshall.

Austin Auditors specializes in providing energy audits in Austin. Their home energy audits determine inefficiencies and pinpoint improvements that could save you thousands of dollars in home energy expenses. They are also registered with Austin Energy to give the mandatory Austin energy audit.

Austin Energy is the public utility providing electrical power service to a 421-square-mile area including Austin, Texas and parts of the surrounding area in Travis and Williamson counties. It has been owned by the City of Austin since its inception in 1893.

The Texas E Team specializes in energy efficiency upgrades, such as weatherization and insulation in Austin. Their goal is to improve Austin's energy savings, knowledge, and home comfort. They are registered with Austin Energy's Home Performance with Energy Star program to do rebate eligible work.