Over 7,000 structures were destroyed in the October 2017 fires in Napa and Sonoma Counties, most of them homes. This page provides information and resources for people who are rebuilding, so that their homes can be safer, more energy efficient, and less expensive to operate.
|Disaster Recovery and Energy Efficiency: Lessons Learned from the North Bay Fires|
|After the North Bay Fires of 2017, the Bay Area Regional Energy Network (BayREN), and especially its representatives from Napa and Sonoma Counties, began thinking of ways to improve energy efficiency and energy code compliance during the rebuilding process. This document summarizes what we did and what we learned from that work, so that others can benefit from our experiences when recovering from other fires or disasters. The intended audience is local government staff, especially those working on sustainability and energy efficiency programs. For more information about anything here, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.|
Energy Efficiency Rebates
Incentives are available to help pay property owners in Napa and Sonoma to rebuild homes that are energy efficient, comfortable, and ready to run on renewable energy. Residents of Sonoma County are eligible for incentives up to $17,500; click here to learn more. Residents of Napa County are eligible for incentives up to $12,540; click here to learn more.
Home Energy Features Everyone Should Consider
Build Your House to Use Less Energy
Building Structure – Smaller homes usually use less energy, so consider how big your house really needs to be when redesigning. For the house itself, high performance windows, air sealing, and well-insulated walls and attics will provide more comfort inside your home and reduce noise. High performance windows are often fire rated, meaning they can withstand high temperatures and add protection to your home.
Building Operations –
- High efficiency appliances are the way to go. Ultra-efficient electric appliances (such as heat pump water heaters, ovens, induction ranges, and heat pump dryers) save money, increase your home’s efficiency, and improve safety by eliminating combustion fuels on site. High efficiency gas appliances are another option.
- Look for direct vent, sealed combustion gas appliances, and install and use properly sized kitchen exhaust fans for gas ranges and ovens to keep unhealthy exhaust gases out of the home.
- Many water-saving measures will also save energy and lower bills. Consider installing high-efficiency fixtures, clothes washers, and toilets.
- For hot water heating, look at heat pump water heaters for electric, or tankless water heaters if you use gas.
Build Your House to Use the Sun’s Energy
Passive Design – Consider orienting your home to use the sun’s energy for heating and cooling. Passive design can save money, provide more comfort, and supply natural lighting during power outages.
Solar or Solar Ready – California’s energy code requires new homes to be “Solar Ready” so that at least a portion of the roof is oriented and designed specifically for installing solar panels. Take the next step and install solar to harness energy from the sun to power your home and save on utility bills. If you’re not installing solar right away, keep in mind that you may want more space for solar than just the minimum required by code; ask your builder or architect to ensure your home has plenty of space to meet your energy needs with solar.
Features that Make Sense with Solar – There are some features that anyone who installs solar panels should also consider. Even if you don’t want to put these in now, you could have your system sized and designed to make it easy to add these later. Pairing these with solar can decrease your energy bill and your carbon footprint as well. Installing these features could also decrease your carbon footprint if you purchase renewable energy.
- Electric vehicle charging station. When your car is powered partially or completely by the sun, you will reduce gas costs, tailpipe emissions, and greenhouse gases.
- Electric heat pump hot water heater. These efficient water heaters can be difficult to fit into existing homes, but make a lot of sense for new homes, especially when paired with solar panels.
- Energy Storage. Solar panel systems paired with batteries improve resiliency and help control energy costs every day. In emergencies, electricity stored in batteries can be used to keep refrigerators cold, keep lights on, charge cell phones, and power emergency medical equipment. The cost of electricity depends on what time of day you use it; batteries can charge when electricity is plentiful and let you use that power when you need it. If not ready to install energy storage systems now, consider dedicating space to allow for future installations.
Advanced Energy Rebuild Sonoma | https://sonomacleanpower.org/advancedenergyrebuild/
Advanced Energy Rebuild Napa | https://www.mcecleanenergy.org/rebuildnapa/
Ecological Building Network Green Rebuild Resources | https://www.ecobuildnetwork.org
The Case for Rebuilding Green | http://rebuildgreenexpo.com/the-case-for-rebuilding-green/
Sonoma County Recovers | https://www.sonomacountyrecovers.org/green-building-incentives-resources/
Napa County Rebuilding | https://www.countyofnapa.org/2225/Rebuilding-After-the-Fire
FireSafe Sonoma | www.firesafesonoma.org
Napa Communities Firewise Foundation | http://napafirewise.org/
County of Sonoma Energy and Sustainability Division | www.sonomacounty.ca.gov/energy
Sonoma-Marin Water Saving Partnership | www.savingwaterpartnership.org
Energy Code Ace Residential Rebuild Fact Sheet | https://energycodeace.com/download/23256/file_path/fieldList/ResRecoverRebuild.pdf
Department of Energy | www.energy.gov/energysaver
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