Solvang residents may be 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 50 Home Challenge, which will kick off with a special event Wednesday at City Hall.

The 50 Home Challenge is a joint initiative of the Santa Barbara County’s emPower Central Coast program and the nonprofit Community Home Energy Retrofit Project, or CHERP, aimed at engaging an entire community and retrofitting 50 single-family homes to make them more energy efficient, said an emPower spokesman.

Solvang residents can learn more about the 50 Home Challenge at the community kickoff set for 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at Solvang City Hall, 1644 Oak St.

To reserve a seat, visit or call 568-3556.

Attendees will learn about resources made available by the Challenge and benefits from making such energy improvements as upgrading a home’s insulation, furnace and air conditioner and installing solar power cells.

Third District Supervisor Joan Hartmann and Solvang Mayor Jim Richardson are scheduled to attend to help launch the initiative.

“Buildings are among the biggest consumers of energy in the country, with the residential sector accounting for about 36 percent of the electricity used in Solvang,” Hartmann said.

“The 50 Home Challenge is a way to make a notable impact on reducing energy use, while also creating more comfortable and healthier living spaces for homeowners,” she said.

The event will also offer residents the opportunity to sign up for a home energy assessment with an emPower energy coach and receive a detailed report on their home energy use.

California Tacos food truck will be on hand serving complimentary tacos, and attendees can enter a drawing for a Nest Learning Thermostat.

“We’re hoping that Solvang is just the beginning and we’ll be able to hold the 50 Home Challenge in as many communities in Santa Barbara County as possible,” said Devon Hartman, executive director of CHERP.

“We want everyone to know that their decisions at home have real global impacts, and those can be positive impacts.”

This report was compiled by News Editor Mike Hodgson. He can be reached at


Mike Hodgson is news editor at the Santa Ynez Valley News, where he writes about local government, special events and the people who live in the Valley. He has been a photographer, writer, news editor and managing editor at weekly newspapers since 1972

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