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Towns come together to help homeowners take advantage of federal funding with home improvements: 'Meeting people where they're at'

The pilot program will help residents save money over the long run.

The pilot program will help residents save money over the long run.

Photo Credit: iStock

Five towns in southern Maine are banding together to help residents make energy-efficiency upgrades.

Kittery, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, Wells, and Ogunquit — along with two regional nonprofits — were awarded a three-year, $800,000 grant from the Department of Energy as part of the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program, Grist reported.

They're using this money for a pilot program that will fund AmeriCorps members who will provide one-on-one coaching to residents, including finding the best cost- and emissions-cutting solutions for their households. They'll also help residents apply for tax credits, rebates, and other incentives. 

Though rebates and other incentives may cover thousands of dollars per project, they still may not cover everything, and some energy bill savings can take months or years to materialize. To help offset these challenges, the grant also provides $500,000 to fund any remaining costs.

The Southern Maine Planning and Development Commission is one of the nonprofits involved in the project. According to sustainability coordinator Karina Graeter, who spoke with Grist, "The idea is to have a 'no wrong path' sort of option for people; meeting people where they're at in terms of their energy needs, and figuring out what assistance they need most."

Another challenge that the program hopes to help townspeople navigate is the ever-evolving nature and complexity of many available incentives.

The pilot program will help residents save money over the long run. For instance, weatherizing your home conserves around $1,100 over a decade while removing 16,500 pounds of pollution, which negatively impacts our health and adds to the overheating of our planet. 

It's also big news for Maine, which relies more on home heating oil than any other state, according to Grist. The publication reported that the state's residential emissions are second only to transportation when it comes to planet-warming pollution.

🗣️ Which of these factors would most effectively motivate you to buy a heat pump?

🔘 Lower energy bills 💰

🔘 Better temperature control 🌡️

🔘 Helping the planet 🌎

🔘 I'd never buy a heat pump 🚫

🗳️ Click your choice to see results and speak your mind

Maine isn't the only state or municipality looking to green up its act for people and the planet. For instance, towns in rural Virginia are adding over 1 million new jobs by focusing on clean energy instead of coal. In New York, all Lyfts and Ubers are required to be electric by 2030. And Los Angeles outlawed gas power in all newly constructed buildings.

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