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MDA focus: Residential energy efficiency

Two seminars remain in a three-part series the Mississippi Development Authority is hosting on residential energy efficiency.

The first session was March 22 and the remaining seminars are March 29 and April 5.

The seminars are open to homeowners, those looking to buy or remodel a home, homebuilders, inspectors and appraisers.

The sessions are designed to inform attendees about proper duct sizing, proper insulation, HVAC sizing, lighting, caulking or air sealing, and water heating, said Linda Perry, the state energy program manager for MDA’s energy division.

“We wanted to start with some of the basics because we’ve come to understand that in Mississippi many people could save 30 percent on their energy costs with these basic changes,” Perry said. “That’s a significant amount.”

She said homeowners should be spending about 5 cents a square foot on energy costs in their homes.

Presenting at the seminars will be experts on insulation, HVAC equipment, residential geothermal energy, utility company representatives, home energy raters certified by RESNET and National Association of Homebuilders green home verifiers.

Energy efficient financing will also be discussed at the seminars, including information on federal energy tax credits available until Dec. 31, which provide credits for new windows, doors, HVAC systems and water heating systems.

Perry said those looking for more information about the tax credits should visit www.energystar.com. She said the site is helpful because it provides ways to measure energy-draining trouble spots in one’s home.

“You can find out where your issues are,” she said, “If one room is hot and the other is cold or if there are a lot of allergies in your family…[When basic changes are made you] will be saving on energy and making a home healthy, too, because you won’t be drawing in pollutants. It’s a more stable home, too, because if your heating and cooling system is putting out too much moisture it can deteriorate your home… That all comes into play.”

Information also will be provided about FHA’s 203(k) mortgages that provide funding for both the purchase of the home and energy efficient improvements.

“At one closing, you’ll get the money to purchase and renovate the home,” Perry said.

Perry said this helps with foreclosures in the state because new buyers can apply for the 203(k) loan and make the necessary upgrades.

“Now’s a great time to make these homes energy efficient,” she said.

Another financing option is the Home Buyer Advantage Program that provides downpayment assistance of up to $40,000 for purchases in neighborhood’s hardest hit by foreclosures.

The MDA administers the program through the Neighborhood Stabilization Act, which was funded by the federal Housing and Economic Recovery Act of June 2008.

“This helps get people back into those homes and gets them renovated to be as energy efficient as possible,” Perry said.

Registration for the seminars is $35, which includes a manual. The meetings are at 6:30 at Electric Power Association of Mississippi, 665 Highland Colony Parkway, Ridgeland.

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