Energy-efficient homes can save their owners money, improve comfort and contribute to better family health and safety. Learn more about how the BGE Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program works by viewing our homeowners’ most frequently asked questions below. What is Home Performance with ENERGY STAR®? Created by the federal government, the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program uses a whole-house approach to make a home more energy-efficient, thus lowering its energy consumption. Each participating contractor has staff certified by the Building Performance Institute (BPI). Only contractors with BPI certified staff can participate in the Program. These specially trained professionals use advanced diagnostic equipment to test the home and identify optimal energy efficiency improvements. What is a Home Performance Energy Audit? The Home Performance Energy Audit is the first step toward improving your home’s energy efficiency and reducing energy bills. During this comprehensive energy audit, the BPI certified contractor tests and evaluates the home using advanced diagnostic equipment and building science principles to determine which areas would benefit from energy efficiency and health and safety-related improvements. Features to be tested include but are not limited to heating and cooling equipment, insulation levels, air infiltration, appliances and lighting. Included in the $100* audit fee, the contractor will install a number of energy saving features, such as light emitting diode (LED) bulbs, faucet aerators, smart power strips, and efficient-flow showerheads. If the home is more than 3,000 square feet or has more than one combustion appliance zone, additional fees may apply at the discretion of your contractor. Specifically, the contractor tests for air-leakage using a blower door; may identify primary leakage areas with an infrared scan; conducts a series of combustion-related tests; and looks for opportunities to improve the home’s insulation, heating and cooling system, windows, appliances, and lighting. The contractor will then explain to you what improvements can be made, and what they will cost. Why should I consider upgrading my home’s energy efficiency over other types of home improvements? Energy efficiency upgrades will improve the comfort of your home while making sure the occupants are living in a safe environment—thereby protecting your most important investment, your home, and its treasured occupants, your family. As a result of the improvements, you will reduce your energy usage every month. How do I know whether I can participate? To participate, the homeowner must be a residential BGE customer with a BGE account number for the home they want to have the audit and receive rebates for energy efficiency improvements. The offer is open to all BGE residential electric and/or gas customers regardless of their electric and/or gas supplier. Only BGE electric or natural gas distribution customers are eligible to participate. (You can, however, use any natural gas and/or electric supplier.) This offer is not valid for new construction, multifamily homes, or commercial properties. Should I accompany the contractor during the Home Performance Energy Audit? The program strongly encourages you to accompany your contractor during the Home Performance Energy Audit and to ask questions and learn about other energy savings opportunities. Your participation will help you when discussing the audit findings, your contractor’s recommendations and how you can reduce energy use. I'm concerned about the health implications of contractors entering my home. What safety precautions will they be taking? To better serve you, all BGE Participating Contractors have put health and safety measures in place that meet or exceed public health guidelines. In addition to keeping technicians safe, these measures help protect you and your family. They include (but are not limited to) strict physical distancing, technician wellness screenings, proper hygiene, and the wearing of face masks and other protective equipment. As a further precaution, your contractor may ask screening questions when scheduling your energy audit or home improvement project. When scheduling your appointment, ask your contractor about other specific health and safety questions or concerns you may have. What if the contractor visits my home but I choose not to move forward with any improvements? Once your energy audit is complete and you receive the contractor’s recommendations, it is your decision whether to move forward with the improvements and sign a contract. Your only responsibility then is to pay the $100* audit fee to your contractor at the time of the audit (Note that if your home is more than 3,000 square feet or has more than one combustion appliance zone, additional fees may apply at the discretion of your contractor.) But remember, the recommended improvements can improve the energy efficiency, indoor air quality, and comfort of your home, while reducing your energy usage. Therefore, you and your family can greatly benefit from moving forward with the recommended improvements as soon as possible following your Home Performance Energy Audit. How long will it take for the improvements to be made to my home? The improvements and the time to complete them will vary by participant and the type of energy efficiency improvement(s) you select. To complete the contracted improvements to your home, your contractor may have to visit your home on multiple days. At a minimum, BGE strongly recommends that you meet with the contractor at the beginning of each day before work begins, and at the end of the day to review progress and to help you better understand the impact the work will have on your home. Be aware that the normal routine of your household may be disrupted while the contractor performs the improvements. What does it cost to participate? Your participating contractor will charge a $100* fee for the Home Performance Energy Audit at the time of the audit. Additional fees may apply if your home is larger than 3,000 square feet, has more than one combustion system (excluding the oven) or is subject to specialty services from the contractor. You also will pay for the improvements you agree to as part of a contract. Those costs depend on your home (including size, age, etc.), the recommended improvements, and those you choose to install. Homeowners can receive cash incentives to help offset some of the costs of improvements. Why are health and safety testing important when conducting home energy improvements? BPI-certified contractors perform critical combustion safety-related tests before and after performing energy improvements to the home. Inspecting and testing combustion appliances—such as heating equipment, ovens, and water heaters for proper performance and carbon monoxide emissions—helps ensure safe, efficient operation and prevent dangerous combustion gases from being introduced into the home. Such tests are critical when tightening up the home to make it more energy-efficient and comfortable. What are some cost-effective improvements that a contractor can make to my home? Depending on the home, improvements may include sealing gaps, cracks, and other leaks that let outside air into a home; adding insulation; and sealing, insulating, or replacing air ducts that run through attics or crawlspaces. Improvements may also include repairing or replacing old or poorly functioning heating and cooling systems and appliances. Installing ENERGY STAR® certified lighting is another commonly performed, cost-effective improvement. Do mobile or manufactured homes qualify for incentives in BGE’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® Program? Yes, mobile or manufactured homes are eligible for incentives through the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program, provided they meet the eligibility requirements of the Program. Customers applying for HPwES rebates must have a central air conditioner, heat pump, or other primary electric heating system and receive electricity service from BGE, or a gas furnace or gas boiler and receive gas service from BGE. I am a potential home buyer and would like to have an energy audit performed on the home prior to purchasing, can this be covered by the $100 audit program? The Home Performance Energy Audit must be paid for and performed under the current BGE account holder’s address. As a potential buyer, you may be able to work with the seller to have the audit performed under their existing account information. To use the sellers existing audit to receive incentives for any work completed the seller must provide you with a copy of the audit. The audit findings are valid for one year from the date of the original audit. I am a seller and would like to have the comprehensive home energy audit performed on my home, but may not move forward with improvements. Would a potential buyer be able to use the original audit information if they should choose to move forward with any future improvements? Yes, in this case you would need to provide the buyer with the audit report for their records. However, the audit findings are valid for one year from the date of original audit. If the buyer does not move forward with improvements within one year, a new audit must be completed prior to implementing any improvements through the program. Can an auditor/contractor charge me additional fees for performing test-out services associated with rebate-eligible work? Yes. An auditor/contractor may charge additional nominal fees associated with performing test-out services. It's important to discuss these additional costs, if any, with your auditor/contractor before signing agreements to begin any rebate-eligible work. Why do I need to retain window stickers and other documentation when upgrading windows, doors and other equipment? Please hold onto any stickers and other documentation for new products and equipment associated with the upgrades you make, because you will be required to submit copies of those documents in order to receive your rebates.