Save Money Now: It’s easier than ever to retrofit your house, room by room

Feature by Brian Rademaekers, illustrations by Robb LeefEveryone wants to live in a home that is comfortable and energy efficient. The best way to get there is to look at your house as a whole. That's the approach embraced by programs like EnergySense from Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) and Smart Ideas from PECO. These programs include rebates, incentives, educa-tional programs, energy audits and even free energy-saving items. Together with super low-interest financing from Keystone HELP, homeowners now have the tools to make any home more comfortable, energy efficient and affordable. 


Three Big Ways to Save!

Rebates, incentives and financing save you money while you save energy throughout your home.


PGW: EnergySense

Rebates, incentives and discounts, on investments big and small! Program benefits are available to all income levels. Get a home energy audit for just $150 and learn which rebates, incentives and financing are available to you.  Rewards customers who follow the auditor's recommendations to save energy. Rebates based on energy saved, not money spent. 
(215) 684–6000


PECO: Smart Ideas

Includes a range of tools and incentives to reduce energy use.  Save small on things like high-efficiency light bulbs or save big on investments like geothermal heating and cooling.  With Smart House Call, save on energy audits and even more on insulation, air sealing and heating system maintenance.  Get rebates on ENERGY STAR applianc-es like air conditioners and refrigerators. PECO customers whose primary heat source is electric can get a $300 energy audit for just $100.
(888) 573–2672 


Keystone HELP

Super-low interest loans makes energy efficiency affordable. Available statewide, with special low rates in Philadelphia and surrounding counties.  Loans for home improvements from insulation and air sealing to solar panels and new windows. Backed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Pennsylvania State Treasury. 
(888) 232–3477 


In the kitchen, money should be spent on quality ingredients — not high-energy bills. A clunky old refrigerator can be one of a home's biggest energy drains, in large part because it never stops running. The kitchen can also harbor “phantom load” appliances, which are seldom used but draw energy as long as they are plugged in. 


1. Trade in your old fridge for a new quali-fying ENERGY STAR-rated appliance and you’ll save $150 a year in costs, plus you’ll get a $50 rebate from PECO and $35 when they pick up the outdated model. Refrig-erators and freezers run best when full, so fill empty space with gallon jugs of water. 

2. Unplug coffee makers and microwaves when they aren’t being used. Using a power strip (supplied free from PECO for qualifying customers), you can “unplug” a variety of appliances with the press of a single button.  

3. Many houses have a drafty backdoor in the kitchen. PGW and PECO rebates and KeystoneHELP loans are available for weather-stripping windows, doors and more.

4. Older model stoves can waste electric-ity or gas, especially ones with a constantly burning pilot light. Save money by replacing with a new model.

5. ENERGY STAR dishwashers use as little as 5 gallons of water, compared to as much as 27 gallons of water washing by hand. That’s a savings of more than 4,700 gallons of water a year. ENERGY STAR qualified dishwasher can save up to 10% in energy.

6.  Replace a 2.2 gallon-per-minute (GPM) faucet aerator with 1.1 GPM and receive a $10 PGW rebate while helping cut water usage in half. 7 Special loans from the Keystone HELP program can cover investments in a geo-thermal home well — as much as $35,000. PECO offers rebates of $200 per ton for ENERGY STAR heat pumps — that's $800 for an average house.


Even in the bathroom, there is energy to be saved, and of course there is water to be conserved. Happily, rebates and financing aimed at whole-home improvements even extend to the powder room.


1. A new ENERGY STAR exhaust fan is quieter, works better, uses less energy, and can keep away moisture and mold that would otherwise present health and safety concerns. Covered by Keystone HELP loans if recommended in energy audit.

2.  A leaky toilet can waste up to 200 gallons a day. Fixing or replacing it can save a family of four $2,000 over a lifetime. Save even more with a WaterSense-certified low- or dual-flush model.

3.  CFL and LED lights use less energy and last much longer than incandescent bulbs. A CFL uses 75% less energy and lasts eight times as long as an incandescent. LEDs last five times as long as CFLs, and use even less energy. PECO offers rebates on ENERGY STAR CFLs ($1-$3) and LEDs ($5-$15).

4.  PGW offers rebates (estimate for two showers and three sinks: $132) for low-flow faucet and showerhead aerators, which are free from PECO for qualifying customers who get a full home energy audit. Reduce your flow from two gallons per minute to just a half gallon. Typical energy savings $23 per year. Replacing a 2.2 GPM showerhead with 1.5 GPM on average yields a $35 PGW rebate, and replacing a 2.2 GPM faucet aerator with 1.1 GPM yields a $10 PGW rebate.

WaterSense is a labeling program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency that makes it easier to use less water with water-efficient products and services. Look for the WaterSense seal on products and services that have been certified at least 20 percent more efficient without sacrificing performance.


New furnaces and boilers are close to 99 percent efficient, compared to many still in use that are 72 percent efficient, or even lower. But efficiently produced heat is still wasteful if it leaks through gaps in the foundation — a common problem in older homes. Once an auditor helps you find leaks, the Keystone HELP program’s low loan rates will help cover the cost of patching up the holes, and PGW will pay you for energy saved.


1.  An investment in your heater gives you the biggest bang for your buck. Upgrade and get rebates from PGW up to $2,000, as well as Keystone HELP loans. A new high-efficiency heater can save $350 a year over a standard heater. Over the unit's lifetime, that can mean $7,000 or more. Even if you don’t need a new unit, tune-ups or repairs that improve efficiency and save money are covered by PGW Home Rebates. PECO also offers rebates covering various HVAC components, from $50-$1,000.

2.  The space above a top floor ceiling or in a basement crawlspace can be a major source of air leaks. An energy auditor can let you know if there’s room to insulate your side walls and roof, and PGW whole home rebates (estimated at $270 for insulation), PECO rebates (up to $500) and Keystone HELP loans can help fill the gaps if more insulation is needed.

3.  Leaky ducts result in an overworked system and wasted energy. Receive an estimated $210 in PGW rebates for sealing ducts.

4.  A water heater runs year-round. Save up to $300 a year with a more efficient model, and let PGW energy rebates, Keystone HELP loans, and $50 PECO rebate make it easy. Some PECO customers can get $200 for switching to a gasheater, and PGW offers $500 rebates for gas conversion projects.

5.  A $15 investment wrapping the pipe from your water heater can prevent signinficant heat loss and earn you up to $50 in PGW Home Rebates based on the significant energy savings it can provide.

6.  Look for ENERGY STAR-rated equipment to cut down on utility bills. Replace your electric clothes dryer with a gas model and receive a $150 rebate from PECO.

7.  Full-sized ENERGY STAR washers use 14 to 25 gallons of water per load, compared to more than 40 gallons by standard machines. That's 37.5% to 70% less water.

Inside & Outside the Home
Your home should protect you from the elements outside and keep you comfortable inside. But if it is drafty and inefficient, it won't do either. There are plenty of steps you can take to make your home comfortable, efficient and economical. Now, there is a variety of programs to make those steps more affordable, so you can take comfort knowing your comfortable home isn't wasting resources, or racking up big utility bills.


1.  Special loans from the Keystone HELP program can cover investments in solar arrays and solar hot water heaters — as much as $35,000.

2.  Silver or white rooftop coatings reflect heat and last longer than black tar roofs. Consider a spray foam roof, which is both reflective and adds another layer of insulation. Federal tax rebates cover 10 percent of qualifying improvements, up to $500.

3.  Go digital and make it easy to program your home’s temperature for the most efficient energy use. Switch from a standard thermostat to a programmable thermostat in the Home Rebates program for a PGW rebate of up to $165. A smart thermostat can reduce energy use up to five percent for every degree that isn’t cooled or heated, saving you up to $150 a year.

4.  Move furniture or other items blocking vents to ensure a smooth-running heating and cooling system.

5.  PECO’s Smart Driver rebate will pay you $50 just for letting them know you bought an electric car.