Program to help county residents become more energy efficient

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) Kern County officials have been making a push for residents to conserve water. A new state program is allowing homeowners to make the needed improvements without breaking their budget.

From the heat of the summer to the cold and wet winters, coping with the county's vast range of weather has presented a challenge for residents such as Amanda Phillips.

Phillips and her husband, who bought their home a year ago, quickly realized the high cost of energy efficiency.

"Summer started to kick in and we were running $500 or $600 a month in energy bills," said Phillips.

It was an amount that put a negative tilt on the family's budget.

Their search to become efficient led them to a program called HERO, which stands for Home Energy Renovation Opportunity.

"The goal with the HERO program is to make energy efficiency more affordable," said Matt Messina, spokesman for the program.

Over 150,000 products qualify for upgrades, including solar, energy and water efficiency measures.

Repayment of HERO financing is included in your property tax bill. Beyond becoming efficient, county administrator Allan Krauter sees potential for jobs.

"As this thing takes hold, it's going to provide a lot of good paying skilled jobs, which are badly needed," he said.

The program is currently available to the thousands of residents living in the un-incorporated areas of the county, as well as Ridgecrest and Taft.

Talks are underway for deals in Delano, Arvin and Bakersfield by May.