JOPLIN, Mo. —
Homebuilders and homeowners in the Joplin area are taking advantage of Energy Star programs at a higher rate than they were before the 2011 tornado.
For its effort in offering the Energy Star rebate program, the Empire District Electric Co., based in Joplin, was recently recognized with an Energy Star Leadership in Housing Award.
Julie Maus, spokeswoman for Empire, said the program, which encourages energy efficiency on multiple levels, “is contributing to the sustainability and affordability of homes in our community. These homes will operate in a more energy efficient manner than what existed prior to the tornado.’’
Empire began offering Energy Star programs for customers in 2006. Since then, about 400 new homes have been constructed using the Energy Star New Homes Program. About 186 of those homes were constructed in 2012. Under that program, the builder receives the rebate for complying with superior energy efficiency standards.
Maus said the Energy Star New Homes Program has been used by 28 different builders in Empire’s Missouri service area. The program focuses on superior energy efficiency in these three major categories:
• Thermal envelope, which includes insulation, air infiltration and windows.
• Heating, cooling and ventilation systems.
• Lighting and appliances.
A major user of the program after the tornado was Redwood Development. It used the energy rebates to help build 38 single-family homes and 142 multi-family units. Also using the program is the Parkwood Apartments on North Range Line Road.
In addition, more than 400 homeowners have used the Home Performance with Energy Star program since 2006 to make upgrades to existing homes in Empire’s service area. About 155 homeowners used that program in 2012. Under that program, the homeowner receives the rebate.
Under the programs, auditors certify that the energy-efficiency measures are needed and completed to qualify for the rebate. The measures can lead to a 20 to 30 percent reduction in energy usage.
Additional Empire programs include Low Income Weatherization and High Efficiency Central Air Conditioner Rebates, which have assisted more than 1,400 and 2,100 customers, respectively.
Together, the use of these programs has resulted in estimated annual savings of more than six million kilowatt hours, or nearly $600,000.
To learn more about Empire’s energy efficiency programs, visit Empire’s Smart Energy Solutions page at www.empiredistrict.com.