Energy auditor matches property owners with funding, services

When she’s not giving public presentations about energy efficiency, Toni Winston, founder of Tiburon Energy & Construction is trying to convince wary homeowners that making their homes more efficient doesn’t require a large outlay of cash up front.

Winston and her company offer energy audits – comprehensive whole-house inspections to determine the efficiency of the house as a system – and recommends ways you can save money on your utility bills by making your home more efficient.  She’ll even do the work for you. “We do everything except equipment replacement. We don’t replace heaters and air conditioners; we bring in subcontractors,” she says.

Most of Tiburon Energy & Construction’s business comes from homeowner-to-homeowner referrals and, in general, the older the home, the more the potential savings. Some businesses also take advantage of Tiburon’s services. Unlike private homes, businesses typically see the best return on investment from lighting improvements.

One problem, Winston says, is that people simply don’t know that there are government funds available for these types of home improvement and even for assessments. She works closely with the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance, a steward of federal funds which helps connect qualified homeowners with up to $4,200 for energy conservation improvements.

In addition, “Hamilton County has a wonderful property improvement program, which buys down home equity loans by 3 percent; the Greater Cincinnati Energy Alliance also has a financing component called the GC-HELP Loan,” she says. So, if you, like Winston, have been dreaming of green roofs, urban agriculture and long-term community sustainability, it may come with a very reasonable price tag.
By Robin Donovan
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