BRANFORD — The town’s Clean Energy Ad Hoc Committee and Peoples Action for Clean Energy, or PACE, are collaborating on a new HeatSmart program, a joint effort to help residents optimize their home energy efficiency and offer a range of simple cost-effective energy solutions.

The program also will help Branford residents contribute to Connecticut’s energy goals of decreasing reliance on fossil fuels and sharply reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the Clean Energy Committee said in a release.

Fossil fuels contribute to climate change, which is an ongoing threat to coastal communities, the economy, agriculture, and public health, the release said.

The Clean Energy Committee has drafted a Clean Energy Plan which maps out Branford’s energy landscape and charts a path forward. It is available on the town website for public review and comment.

The first step in the HeatSmart program is a Home Energy Solutions audit to evaluate home energy efficiency, the release said. Residents can apply at www.HeatsmartBranfordCT.org and a preferred HES contractor will make contact to schedule an appointment.

CMC and NECS are Branford’s HES partners, the release said. (Call 203-915-1377 and mention “HeatSmart.”) The HES process provides up to $1,000 worth of home energy services as well as yearly energy savings of up to $250. HES is available free of charge until the end of 2020 or until funding runs out.

After the HES evaluation, the contractor will share detailed information about recommended upgrades and financial incentives. Upgrades may include heat pumps, insulation, appliances and solar panels.

Heat pumps are an eco-friendly solution that efficiently heat in the winter and cool in the summer. Contact information for a qualified heat pump installer also will be provided, the release said. The homeowner can decide whether to proceed.

Prime candidates for saving money with a heat pump include residents who heat with electrical baseboard, propane or oil; are installing a new furnace; are adding air-conditioning; or who are constructing an addition or a new home. Grants, rebates and financing are available for qualified residents.

Solar energy is another way for homeowners to reduce their electric bills and help contribute to Connecticut’s energy goals, the release said. In 2018, the state set a goal of producing 40 percent of its electric power through renewables by 2030, rising to 100 percent by 2040.

Branford has made renewable energy upgrades such as solar arrays and a geothermal heat pump at town-owned facilities and is committed to adding more systems soon. More than 350 Branford residents have installed solar panels since 2006.

Most residential solar electric systems work with the electric grid, sending electricity back to the grid when it produces more than what a home is using..

For information on how to get started with a free energy audit, go to www.HeatSmartBranfordCT.org and click on the “I’m interested” link, the release said.

Connecticut Media Group