Property owners and local communities across California are among the beneficiaries of the new statewide energy efficiency program known as Energy Upgrade California.  The program is an unprecedented collaboration between the California Energy Commission, the Public Utilities Commission, utilities, local governments, non-governmental organizations and the private sector to promote and finance energy efficiency and renewable energy projects for homes, reduce energy use, help train contractors and create jobs.

More than $1.2 billion from a variety of funding sources is being leveraged through Energy Upgrade California. These funds include $146 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act State Energy Program and Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grants awards administered by the Energy Commission, $13 million from Employment Development Department Workforce Investment and more than $1 billion from investor-owned utilities for residential and commercial building upgrades.

Through Energy Upgrade California, local governments and utilities are supporting a suite of consumer and contractor resources including a new web features consumer and contractor information on energy efficiency and renewable energy building improvements, residential and commercial financing options and utility incentives, and scholarships and training for contractors.

Energy Upgrade California officials say a home energy upgrade can lower utility bills, increase comfort, improve air quality and increase home value. Thousands of dollars are available for energy upgrades to residential properties through Energy Upgrade California. Homeowners can receive up to $4000 in rebates, incentives and tax credits (even more depending on the utility provider and local programs) available for home improvements that save energy.

The Energy Upgrade California web portal is customized to represent each county in the state. Using the portal, property owners can enter their zip code or county to learn about available upgrade options, rebates, financing options and local participating contractors.

To help homeowners understand the process, the web portal describes a typical homeowner story-the Sanchez family, living in a 3-bedroom, 2-story house built in 1970. Though they upgraded their attic insulation when they bought the house in 2004, the upstairs still felt stuffy in the summer and some rooms remain cold in the winter.

The Sanchez’s decided they needed an energy upgrade. Following the Energy Upgrade California “whole house” approach, an assessment was conducted by an Energy Upgrade California participating contractor. The “whole house” approach emphasizes viewing the home as a complete system. Heating, air conditioning and water systems, as well as structural features like windows, ducts and insulation-should work together effectively to minimize energy use.

The assessment showed the family could achieve 35% energy savings by more effectively sealing and insulating their house, and by replacing their old furnace and air conditioner with a new energy-efficient system. The $12,000 upgrade cost the Sanchez family $7500 after a $3,500 Energy Upgrade incentive, a $500 federal energy efficiency tax credit and a $500 incentive from their city. Their $7,500 investment will net an estimated $7,980 in utility savings over 10 years (based on $190 monthly gas/electric bills), and will likely increase the value of their home. 

Learn more about the Sanchez family’s upgrades at this website.

Rebates & Incentives
Currently, homeowners can choose between two packages that qualify for rebates and incentives: the Basic Upgrade and the Advanced Upgrade. The Basic Upgrade consists of seven required elements to improve energy efficiency by approximately 10%, and includes a rebate of up to $1,000. The Advanced Package includes incentives and rebates based on the energy savings achieved. Rebates range from $1,500 to more than $4,000 for energy savings from 15-40% (depending on utility provider and energy savings achieved).

The Energy Upgrade web portal includes a list of financing options for funding energy efficiency and onsite energy generation projects. One such option is a Residential Energy Retrofit Program loan through CHF (California Rural Home Mortgage Finance Authority). The program is available in most counties, with financing for energy efficiency projects available at a 3% fixed interest rate, fully-amortized over 15 years, with no maximum or minimum on the loan amount. The program also has grants of up to $1,250 available. For more info, visit or call (855) 740-8422.

“Energy Upgrade California is exactly the kind of innovative program that will help Californians do more for less money by encouraging property owners and contractors to take advantage of energy efficiency information, incentives, rebates and financing options,” said Robert Weisenmiller, Chair of the Energy Commission.

Energy Upgrade California on the web: