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Utility's program rewards those who save as they build

Published August 30, 2012 7:43 pm

Energy • Rocky's wattsmart effort offers new rebate options.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Rocky Mountain Power has unveiled another program designed to encourage construction of energy-efficient homes in Utah.

The wattsmart New Homes Program provides cash rebates to builders who include features such as efficient lighting, premium insulation, high-efficiency appliances and heating and cooling systems. The rebates are based on the installation of specific upgrades, ranging from $20 for an energy-efficient refrigerator to as much as $1,750 for a geothermal heat pump.

Rocky Mountain Power has been offering incentives to builders that construct Energy Star-rated homes, a federal designation that demonstrates a home saves energy in multiple ways. The new effort provides options to builders who may not be involved in the Energy Star program but still include a number of energy-saving features in their homes, said Jeff Hymas, a spokesman for Rocky Mountain Power.

Amelia and Jared Hill own an energy-efficient home in Grantsville built by Mountain Vista Homes, which is participating in the wattsmart program. The couple's utility bills for their three-bedroom property are about the same as they paid for a one-bedroom apartment.

"It makes a big difference in our budget," Amelia Hill said. "We never pay more than $100 a month for our electricity and natural gas together."

The new homebuilder incentive program is in addition to other programs that provide rebates directly to homeowners and business owners that make investments to save energy.

The wattsmart New Homes Program is available only for homes built in Rocky Mountain Power's service area — communities such as Kaysville, Bountiful and St. George and Provo are served by other municipal power providers and aren't eligible.

Hymas estimates that dozens of builders of all sizes in Utah will qualify for rebates under the wattsmart initiative.

Kirt Harmon, senior construction manager for ICO Construction in Salt Lake City, said the new program makes sense. Not all builders want to go through the process of gaining an Energy Star rating, yet they meet or even exceed the program's energy-efficient home-construction standards. His company's custom homes and condos, for example, all have an array of energy-saving features, many of which would qualify for the rebates.

Harmon said the program helps builders deliver the more-expensive "green" home features that buyers desire but often don't want to spend extra money on.

"Everyone wants the most energy-efficient, the most green home they can get," he said.

lesley@sltrib.com

Twitter: @cheapchick —

For more information

Want to learn more about the wattsmart New Homes program? Go to http://www.rockymountainpower.net/newhomes

Residents and businesses also can receive cash incentives for purchasing high-efficiency appliances and equipment. For details, go to http://www.rockymountainpower.net/env/epi.html