Top Ten Reasons to Go Energy Efficient

In most cases, you don’t have to spend more to save more. Energy-efficient choices are available at nearly all prices.
Think of the next generation. Taking care of your house and family means taking care of natural resources.
In many cases, the more efficient products simply work better.
A mine is a terrible thing to waste. Coal production is destructive, dirty, and dangerous.
Buying oil overseas reduces U.S. political power and wealth. If the U.S. is Superman, overseas oil is kryptonite.
The faster we burn oil, the lower world reserves get.
Older, inefficient technology was okay when energy was cheap and its climate impacts unknown. But energy prices are going up and so are average global temperatures.
A new power plant can cost $4 billion to build. Customers foot the bill.
Using energy efficiency measures alone, the U.S. can go a long way toward rolling its contribution to global climate change back to safe levels.
If you’re going to waste money, waste it on something more fun than your electric bill.


Low Interest Loans for Charleston Home Energy Improvements

Charleston homeowners receive an exclusive interest rate DISCOUNT on HUD PowerSaver Loans up to $25,000 exclusively from CharlestonWISE home performance contractors for a limited time only.
CharlestonWISE is buying down interest rates on Power Saver loans — Homeowners can borrow $25,000 with a monthly payment of around $200 for energy upgrades that save at least 15%.
Eligible improvements include energy efficiency (insulation, air sealing, duct sealing), high efficiency heating and cooling systems, renewable energy and Solar PV systems.
CharlestonWISE customers qualify for the lowest interest rate based on today’s rate sheet, as low as 4.625%.
Sign-up online for a free consultation from a CharlestonWISE energy advocate who will evaluate your home and connect you with highly qualified contractors authorized to participate in the Power Saver loan program.

Best Fridge: Super Efficient Energy Star Refrigerator Review and Buying Guide

Super Efficient Refrigerator list from the Consortium for Energy Efficiency was updated in December.
Through the Super-Efficient Home Appliances Initiative (SEHA), CEE is promoting energy-efficient refrigerators that use significantly less electricity than the federal standard. SEHA appliances are defined as the upper end of the ENERGY STAR® spectrum, based on energy efficiency.
View the PDF of the Super Efficient Refrigerator list.
View the PDF of the All Energy Star Refrigerators
Private labels for energy efficiency are growing. EnerVee has published a grapic buying guide that illustrates how to choose efficient fridges:
Energy Efficient Refrigerator Buying Guide

CharlestonWISE and SCE&G Rebates add up to $3000

CharlestonWISE contractors now offer homeowners instant discounts of $500 plus utility rebates up to $2500 for home energy upgrades in Charleston County that achieve 15% savings or more.
A program of the Sustainability Institute in partnership with City of Charleston, Southeast Energy Efficiency Alliance, and Dept. of Energy, CharlestonWISE is a community based energy program to help homeowners save energy, lower utility bills and solve comfort and mold problems using solutions based on proven building science.
In January, the program offers a free in-home consultation from a CharlestonWISE energy advocate ($150 value) to help homeowners qualify for up to $25,000 in low interest loans and assist them through the entire upgrade process, including insulation, air sealing, duct systems, spray foam, heating and cooling, renewable energy and solar PV systems.
The energy advocate is an independent advisor who simplifiess the process and ensures the job is done right for complete homeowner satisfaction.

South Carolina Recognized by ACEEE for Energy Efficiency Improvements

October 3, 2012

South Carolina has been recognized by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) sixth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard for significant improvements in electric energy efficiency program budgets during 2011. South Carolina moved up six places in the ranking to #40.

CharlestonWISE, a program of the Sustainability Institute helps homeowners take advantage of utility energy efficiency programs and incentives to achieve an average 25% reduction in energy use with impartial advice and guidance from start to finish.

Other states making significant progress this year include Oklahoma, Montana, Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, and Pennsylvania, all of which increased budgets for energy efficiency under their statewide energy savings goals.

The announcement from ACEEE said States continue to move strongly in 2012 to advance energy efficiency initiatives regardless of which political party is in control of state legislatures and governors’ offices.

Available online at, the ACEEE State Scorecardshows that the top 10 energy efficiency states are Massachusetts (in its second year atop the rankings), California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota.

Home Energy Score a 10 for North Charleston Mixson LEED Gold Home

Charleston scored its first 10 on the Home Energy Score label today for a 2006 LEED Gold home in the eclectic North Charleston neighborhood, Mixson. Sustainability Institute Home Energy Score qualified assessor Colin Jones reports the Mixson house, due to the size and proper building components has scored the first 10 he has seen in the county. The score projected utility costs to average $85/month. front view of home

Reducing Energy Bills at the Waste

I met Big Bill and Little Bill during a community energy conference on the brink of Lake Champlain last fall. These guys are authentic Chicago comedy and genuine home energy advocates. CharlestonWISE community energy program measures home energy performance at the waste, too.
Big Bill and Little Bill portrait
Meet the energy Bills on youtube

DOE Home Energy Score from The Sustainability Institute in Charleston, SC

Home Energy Score from The Sustainability Institute is the nationally recognized label for residential energy performance — is a low cost, apples-to-apples comparison of a home’s energy performance — much like the miles-per-gallon rating for new cars.

The simple 1 to 10 scale compares the scored home relative to all homes in the local market and climate zone. Homes that score 10 cost the least to operate at normal energy settings. Homes scored 5 or less waste lots of energy and are great candidates for whole-house energy improvements, reducing wasted energy dollars and improving indoor comfort, air quality, occupant health.

The Home Energy Score report will identify cost effective home energy upgrades with 10% to 30% or better return on investment and refer clients to the CharlestonWISE program for unbiased advice and trusted contractor referrals for quality-assured home energy upgrades, financial incentives and low-interest financing.

Homeowners can access up to $25,000 for energy improvements — heating, cooling, ventilation, duct and air sealing, insulation, and renewable energy systems through CharlestonWISE PowerSaver Loan with interest rate buy-downs, now below 5%, for applicants with FICO scores less than 700.

The score is based on computer modeling at the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab to evaluate total energy consumption based on the local climate zone. Homes are ranked on total energy consumption, so a large home is expected to score lower than a small home with similar energy attributes. Actual Energy use will depend on how the home is operated and maintained, including number of occupants.

A certified Home Energy Score Assessor will collect home data to evaluate the energy-related components of a home, consisting of the Building Enclosure (walls, attic, basement or crawl space) and Mechanical Systems — heating, cooling, ventilation systems and major appliances.

The Dept. of Energy Home Energy has partnered with The Sustainability Institute as the only Home Energy Score provider in South Carolina. Currently, the Home Energy Score is only available in Charleston County, and available state-wide next year. The cost is $120 for the score and home energy upgrade report, which includes blower door diagnostics and thermal bypass inspection using a FLIR camera.

Right now, the Home Energy Score is available only through the CharlestonWISE program of The Sustainability Institute. Call our hotline at 843-724-9014 speak with program advisor Lindsey Graham to qualify for a free Home Energy Score through CharlestonWISE, an innovative community energy programs in partnership with the City of Charleston and South Carolina Energy Office.

Hot and Bothered by summer utility bills? Keep your cool and save 20%

WISE Charleston households are keeping their cool and saving an average 20% off utility bills with CharlestonWISE, a community energy program of the non-profit Sustainability Institute, the City of Charleston, the Department of Energy.

Home Energy Score Assessor in Charleston

CharlestonWISE Energy Advocate Colin Jones evaluating a home at Mixson in North Charleston

CharlestonWISEnhas expanded service to offer free, in-home energy consultation for 200 Charleston County households. The pilot program features bonus rebates, low interest loans, trusted contractor referrals and Quality Assurance to support home energy upgrades in Charleston.

How it works:

Consultation: The CharlestonWISE program offers free, in-home consultant to identify where the home is wasting energy and causing indoor environmental concerns. The CharlestonWISE energy advocate will create a prioritized list of home performance upgrades and referrals to quality-assured home performance contractors.

Rebates: Up to $3000 in total rebates are available from CharlestonWISE and SCE&G. CharlestonWISE contractors give customers instant discounts on home energy upgrades and the program assists with mail-in utility rebates.

Financing: CharlestonWISE home energy upgrades are made affordable with low interest financing through the SEEA/SunWest PowerSaver loan program. Homeowners can finance projects up to $25,000 at current rates under 5%. Eligible improvements must include energy efficiency measures and may include renewable energy systems such as solar, ground source heat pump or high efficiency heating and cooling replacements.

Quality Assured Contractors: CharlestonWISE works only with selects home performance contractors certified by the Building Performance Institute, who guarantee their work meets the CharlestonWISE program standards. The CharlestonWISE program has a full-time Quality Assurance coordinator to perform a quality assurance check on every job, including field inspections of installations.

Limited Offer: CharlestonWISE is available to only 300 households as a pilot program to grow the market for home energy upgrades by making the process simple, affordable and reliable. The WISE tag is an acronym for Worthwhile Investments Save Energy and highlights the economic, health and comfort benefits of home energy improvements.
Sign up now and join the CharlestonWISE community of savvy homeowners who save money while enjoying better indoor comfort and environmental quality.

Brian Brainerd