Staff Report

Outreach activities for the Solvang 50 Home Challenge have ended, but homeowners who begin energy-conservation projects by Dec. 31 are still eligible for some rebates and savings, program officials said.

The joint initiative of Santa Barbara County’s emPower Central Coast program and the nonprofit CHERP (Community Home Energy Retrofit Project) was launched in the fall of 2017, with a goal of retrofitting single-family homes to make them more energy-efficient. Forty-nine homeowners took advantage of a free home assessment of their energy inefficiencies, while seven homeowners moved forward to complete, or are in progress with, full home upgrades, organizers said.

“It can often take homeowners several months to make a decision to move forward on making home upgrades,” said emPower Program Specialist Marisa Hanson-Lopez. “We expect even more projects to be completed before the end of this year. It’s rewarding to meet so many residents who were curious and ready to do something positive for the environment, as well as make their homes more comfortable.”

“We were the first 50 Home Challenge house done in our area,” said program participant Jutta Aichinger. “While we now love our new insulation and HVAC systems, the execution was a learning experience. My husband and I are both on the 50 Home Challenge energy council and are seeing that our experience further improves the program.”

Solvang-area residents are still able to take advantage of free home energy assessments, group discounts, cash rebates and low-interest financing for home energy efficiency upgrades as part of the program. Eligible energy improvements include upgrading a home’s insulation, furnace, air conditioner, installing solar and more.

Homeowners in Solvang and surrounding communities can get more information or schedule a free home energy assessment online at or by phone at 805-568-3556.