Wilmington Property Owner Lands Thousands in Rebates for Energy Efficiency Upgrades

Date: June 21, 2016
Ed Friedman, Principal, Overbrook Properties

Wilmington Property Owner Lands Thousands in Rebates for Energy Efficiency Upgrades 

WILMINGTON, Del. (June 21, 2016) — "It sounded too good to be true—but it is!” That’s what Ed Friedman, a principal with Overbrook Properties, says about Energize Delaware’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program.

A self-described “small investor,” Friedman owns nine properties in the Wilmington area. He heard about the utility-sponsored program when he and a room full of other members of the Greater Wilmington Housing Providers attended a presentation by Tony DePrima, director of the Delaware Sustainable Energy Utility.

DePrima was the featured speaker at one of the group’s monthly meetings, where he told the gathered real estate investors, landlords, and property managers about the heavy subsidies available for improving energy efficiency in residential properties in Delaware’s Downtown Development Districts.

Residences and mixed-use buildings—those with both commercially and residentially metered spaces—in Dover, Seaford, and Wilmington can receive rebates to cover up to 75 percent of the cost of qualifying upgrades. Projects ranging from installation of high-efficiency heating and cooling equipment to air sealing and adding insulation could be eligible for rebates as high as $9,100.

The first step is a home energy audit, which itself is discounted at $50. The audits are conducted by Energize Delaware’s energy advisors or specially trained contractors who use advanced, state-of-the-art equipment to identify energy leaks and hidden causes of comfort problems.

After hearing from one tenant that her heating bills were astronomically high over the winter, Friedman saw an opportunity to discover the source of his tenant’s comfort woes and get some help from the utility for making the needed improvements. Shortly after attending the presentation, Friedman called an Energize Delaware energy advisor and scheduled a home energy audit at his tenant’s rowhome.

“The biggest surprise,” Friedman says, “was that there was no insulation in the attic!” The energy advisor also pointed out a live wire in the attic, a potential safety and fire hazard. Following the audit, Friedman hired a participating contractor to add insulation in the attic and throughout the rest of the home. The projects qualified for rebates totaling $2,325.

“The process was easy,” he says. “There’s very little paperwork, and what paperwork there is the contractor handles. I paid $50 for the audit and signed a few pages. The audit and testing took maybe a couple of hours.”

Pleased with the results of using the Energize Delaware program at this first property, Friedman scheduled a home energy audit for another rowhome in his portfolio—this one a completely rehabbed property. As with the first property, insulation and air sealing were identified as key opportunities to improve energy efficiency. Rebates totaling $1,260 would cover 75 percent of the cost of the recommended upgrades.

During the audit at the second property, the energy advisor noted a gas leak in the basement. Combustion safety testing is among the routine tests performed during each audit. “I would never have known if he hadn’t done that audit,” Friedman says. “My tenant is a woman with five kids. I don’t want to imagine what might have happened if the leak went unnoticed.”

Friedman recently completed a home energy audit at a third property, a three-family rowhome. The audit revealed a malfunction in the heat pump that resulted in a two-bedroom apartment with an electricity demand of 3,800 kilowatt-hours a month. (The average Delaware home uses about 950 kilowatt-hours.) “That’s got to be replaced, or some tenant is going to walk out of the place seeing bills like that,” he says. In addition to a new heat pump, Friedman plans to air seal and add insulation at this property. 

Moving forward, Friedman plans to use Energize Delaware’s Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® program whenever possible. “Money is the motivation,” Friedman says. “I can use the program to get new equipment at a greatly subsidized price. If I have to buy a new heat pump or water heater, why wouldn’t I use this program?! It’s a no-brainer.”

Plus, he adds, energy efficiency makes better tenants. How? “It saves them money, so they can pay their rent! It’s a win for me, for my tenants, and for the greater community.”

Visit our website to schedule your property’s Home Energy Audit  or call (877) 524-1339 to speak with an energy advisor today. For more information about the program, visit our Home Performance with ENERGY STAR page.