Energy Upgrade California in San Diego County

Location: San Diego County, California

Seed Funding: $3.9 million—a portion of Los Angeles County's $30 million funding

Target Building Types: Residential (single-family and multifamily)


County of San Diego

City of San Diego

City of Chula Vista

San Diego Gas & Electric

California Energy Commission

Energy Upgrade California Motivates Home Improvements in San Diego County

As the third largest metropolitan area in California, San Diego County plays a significant role in the state's goal to achieve an average of 40% energy savings in existing homes by 2020. A portion of these efforts is being implemented through Energy Upgrade California, a statewide program to support homeowners and contractors in completing energy upgrades on homes across the state. Local pilot programs in six communities under Energy Upgrade California are being implemented with support from a grant to Los Angeles County from the U.S. Department of Energy's Better Buildings Neighborhood Program.

In San Diego County, the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) is the Better Buildings Neighborhood Program sub-grant recipient, implementing Energy Upgrade California in partnership with San Diego County and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E). Through efforts to leverage local partnerships, grow the market for local contractors, and identify targeted outreach specific to their community members, CCSE is putting Energy Upgrade California to work at the local level.

Program Design: Market-Defining Assessment Shapes Comprehensive Approach
Driving Demand: Program Outreach Targets Key Groups On and Off the Road
Financing: Partnerships and Rebates Help Incentivize Participation
Workforce Development: Diverse Training Programs Ignite Local Workforce

Market-Defining Assessment Shapes Comprehensive Approach

To better understand the energy efficiency needs of local homeowners, CCSE collaborated with SDG&E's Local Government Partnership to complete a market needs assessment for Chula Vista, the second largest city in the San Diego metropolitan area. The assessment analyzed housing characteristics, household financial information, and energy usage to determine which households and neighborhoods were potential candidates for energy efficiency upgrades. A similar assessment evaluating all of San Diego County will be used to set energy efficiency goals and target countywide marketing, education, and outreach efforts in the future.

Program Outreach Targets Key Groups On and Off the Road

The program is using its strategic approach to drive demand both locally and statewide. Because San Diego has one of the nation's largest military communities, CCSE is focused on helping military families. Through a program called San Diego Hero Alliance, it uses community-based social marketing strategies to educate military and veterans' families on home energy upgrade benefits, special offers, financing, and rebates. The alliance conducts outreach through veterans associations; at workplaces that employ veterans and military family members; and at community and military events across San Diego County.

CCSE is also upgrading 40 San Diego homes as demonstration homes to educate and inform residents about the benefits of energy efficiency upgrades. These homeowners have volunteered to make their homes available for energy efficiency home tours and open houses.

In addition to local outreach, CCSE created the Energy Upgrade California Roadshow to promote the benefits of the statewide program. The mobile exhibit showcases the residential energy upgrade options and measures Californians can implement at home. Along with extensive representation across the San Diego region, the roadshow went on a statewide tour in November 2012, to educate homeowners on how to increase home energy efficiency, achieve cost savings, and improve home comfort. From a farmer's market in Pacific Palisades to the Greenbuild Conference in San Francisco to the Sacramento Municipal Utility District's homeowner workshop, the roadshow staff engaged thousands of Californians in a quest to make the Golden State a little greener. The statewide grassroots outreach resulted in hundreds of home energy evaluation leads for Energy Upgrade California contractors.

Partnerships and Rebates Help Incentivize Participation

Although CCSE conducts air leakage, duct leakage, and combustion safety testing as part of each home energy evaluation, homeowners looking for a more in-depth assessment can upgrade to an evaluation that includes a Home Energy Rating. The rating allows homeowners to compare their homes' energy performance to current energy code standards and other homes with Home Energy Ratings. To offset the extra cost of this rating, homeowners who work with a participating Home Energy Rating System (HERS) rater can qualify for as much as $300 in rebates through CCSE. Customers also receive an independent, third-party report of their homes' existing conditions, suggestions for improving efficiency, and a scope of work that can be used to secure competitive pricing on energy upgrades from contractors participating in Energy Upgrade California.

In addition to offsetting the cost of a Home Energy Rating evaluation, CCSE administers the City of San Diego's Home Energy Upgrade (SDHEU) program for low- and moderate-income residents through a $2 million American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contract. The program provides a matching incentive to Energy Upgrade California rebates, which range up to $4,000.

Diverse Training Programs Ignite Local Workforce

By implementing Energy Upgrade California in coordination with existing utility and city programs, CCSE has helped to expand the market for home performance contracting companies. Growth of contractors in the region has been significant since the start of Energy Upgrade California, from a few companies to nearly 100. In an effort to further expand the local workforce, CCSE offers online and classroom training, as well as field mentoring. Topics include whole-home assessments, field installations, and software modelling instruction.

One program, TOP HVAC, provides resources to help heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) contractors incorporate home performance into their business model. The program includes free building performance workshops and individualized sessions with sales, marketing, and business development experts. For those San Diego area workers looking for potential full-time positions, CCSE places graduates from its Green Grad Education and Training Upgrade Program into paid internships with local Energy Upgrade California contractors, 80% of which have turned into job offers.


Jack Clark

U.S. Department of Energy
Better Buildings Neighborhood Program