Program can help insulate older homes at low cost

The Sustainable Living Center has qualified 175 homes for the insulation retrofit program.

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WALLA WALLA - Old-home owners who want to insulate to new-home standards might qualify for 90 percent of the work to be covered by rebates and other incentives.

The Sustainable Living Center, Cascade Natural Gas and Pacific Power are all offering incentives for qualifying homes built prior to 1993.

"It was a great deal. And we could tell immediately from the heating bill that we weren't running the furnace as much," College Place resident Phil Muthersbaugh said.

Muthersbaugh, who has an older home with natural gas and central air recently qualified for rebates from both power companies, as well as having the Sustainable Living Center pay for a third of the work.

According to Sustainable Living Center advanced energy advisor Dave Dahlin, Muthersbaugh's home insulation project cost $3,570; the Sustainable Living Center paid $1,071 directly to the contractor; and Cascade Natural Gas and Pacific Power rebated about $500 each.

The end result was that 58 percent of the project was paid by the combined incentive programs.

Dahlin said in some cases homes can qualify for up to 90 funding, but those homes usually have little or no insulation in the attic and floors and usually were built prior to the 1950s.

"There aren't a lot of homes out there that have no insulation. Every once in a while there is some with no insulation in the attic," Dahlin said.

So far this year, the Sustainable Living Center has qualified 175 homes for the insulation retrofit program, with 141 retrofits completed.

Dahlin said of the 500 homes inspected so far, 85 percent of them ended up needing some type of insulation improvements.

Once a qualifying inspection is completed, one of two local contractors is brought in to make recommends, establish costs and perform the work.

"This is work that can be done with the home owner there, but usually the amount of time is about two days. And usually most of the work is done from the outside," Smith Insulation Inc. owner James A. McEwen said.

Dahlin said the Sustainable Living Center is planning on doing 100 more homes, but the incentive program is a pilot program that ends this year.

For an initial qualification inspection, call the Sustainable Living Center at 524-5228.

Alfred Diaz can be reached at alfreddiaz@wwub.com or 526-8325.

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