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SCEIP: Practical Action for a Resilient Future


SCEIP: Practical Action for a Resilient Future

By Stacey Meinzen

Around Earth Day many of us take time to reflect on how we can be better stewards of the planet. Reducing waste and saving water and energy are always popular notions. What we may not realize is just how much some of our actions to save resources will also serve us in other ways. Ask anyone who has already done an energy efficiency upgrade to their home and you will see how much more comfortable they are and how much it has lowered their energy bills. 

If investing in energy efficiency upgrades doesn’t feel worth it, consider this: In 2014, residential electricity customers in most areas of the country experienced the highest annual growth rate in retail electricity prices in six years. The Energy Information Administration forecasts that prices will continue to rise during 2015, making energy efficiency upgrades a great investment.

Such upgrades also typically make for a much healthier home.

In September of last year a report by the International Energy Administration titled, “Capturing the Multiple Benefits of Energy Efficiency” found that energy efficiency retrofits in buildings (e.g. insulation retrofits and weatherization programs) create conditions that support improved occupant health and well-being. The potential benefits include improved physical health such as reduced symptoms of respiratory and cardiovascular conditions, rheumatism, arthritis and allergies, as well as fewer injuries. 

Many people are overwhelmed when they think about energy efficiency upgrades and they don’t know where to start. Sonoma County’s Energy Independence Program (SCEIP) is a good possibility. They can offer financing for going solar, new windows, insulation, and water conservation measures, which are more important than ever given the current drought.

John and Linda Conley of Petaluma are using the SCEIP program for the second time. When they spoke about their initial experience, they described why they chose to do energy efficiency upgrades and go solar.

 “It was acting on our values. We knew that to put in a solar system to offset our use was the right thing to do. The availability of SCEIP nudged us toward doing it. Having the ability to make a permanent capital investment in our property and have it financed through our property tax was the right fit. It was a really good experience. We see our teeny tiny bills and sometimes our bills are negative. It is great to be able to look at our monthly bills and say, we did this with the help of SCEIP!”

SCEIP will have a booth at two upcoming Earth Day celebrations to answer questions (Saturday, April 18, 2015 12pm-4pm at the Santa Rosa Courthouse Square in downtown and on Sunday, April 19, 2015, 10am-2pm at the Windsor Town Green).

SCEIP is also going to be hosting some free workshops in Petaluma (April 29, 6pm at the Petaluma Library), Santa Rosa (May 3rd, 2pm at the Central Library), and Windsor (May 13, 6pm at the Windsor Library) for folks who are interested in taking that first step towards making upgrades to their home. These workshops are part of the countywide 2015 Community Resilience Challenge (formerly known as the 350 Home & Garden Challenge), which is organized by Daily Acts organization. The Challenge is a collaboration of non-profits, municipalities, businesses and individuals working together to bring awareness to the need for community-based local solutions to the pivotal issues facing our planet, from drought to climate change. During the month of May and culminating in an inspiring weekend of action on May 16th and 17th, Challenge participants are taking steps to Conserve Energy, Save Water, Grow Food, Reduce Waste, and Build Community. Participants register their actions (such as attending a SCEIP workshop) online and all actions are aggregated on a map to build a picture of the growing resilience movement. The 2015 Challenge marks Daily Acts’ 6th year of engaging people to take practical action for a more healthy, just and resilient future. 

While these aspirations may sound quite lofty, the first step is easy – you can attend a free workshop to learn more about starting your healthier, more comfortable, lower energy bill future.  For more information about these workshops, contact the SCEIP office at 707-565-6470.