As 2010 begins, many homeowners may be able to benefit from incentives to make their homes warmer and more environmentally friendly — by saving on valuable energy resources and reducing carbon emissions — through the Maine Home Performance Program, administered by Efficiency Maine.

Homeowners who make specific, eligible weatherization improvements to their homes may receive up to $3,000 in rebates and can save between 25 and 50 percent in home-heating costs.

There is no income limit to participate in the program. To qualify for a rebate, however, homeowners must have an energy audit performed by a certified auditor and the improvements made must achieve at least 25 percent savings in heating and hot water fuel usage.

“Dependence on unstable foreign energy is dangerous for our economy, environment and national security,” said Gov. John E. Baldacci at a Jan. 8 Statehouse kickoff for the new program.

“There’s a better way. The resources that flow out of our state could sorely be used here at home, and that’s why my administration has been aggressive in energy efficiency and renewable energy development. The Maine Home Performance Program will help ensure Maine families stay warmer, safer and more economically secure.”

The governor was joined by guests who took the podium, including Speaker of the House Hannah Pingree, who recently had her house weatherized, and Stuart Finkelstein and Jane Funk, who also recently weatherized their Warren home.

Richard Burbank of Evergreen Home Performance, a qualified weatherization contractor who installed the improvements for Finkelstein and Funk, was also on hand.

“I am so proud of the state of Maine for taking this huge step today,” said Pingree.

The program is the result of the Legislature’s passage last year of the governor’s energy bill that set the goal to weatherize all Maine homes and half of Maine businesses by 2030.

“We have a vision and a plan. We are at the beginning now, and going down that road immediately,” Baldacci said, explaining that the program will also create jobs for qualified weatherization auditors, installers and retailers.

Pingree spoke highly of the changes to her home, as did Finkelstein of the improvements made to his house. Finkelstein and Funk lightheartedly said that they could now wear regular clothes in the morning, rather than winter gear, because their house was finally warm.

“It is very exciting to have this program; weatherization is making homes more energy efficient,” said Burbank.

Pingree added, “When homeowners see how much they will save on heating bills, it is a big win.”

For a list of eligible improvements and eligibility requirements, go to efficiencymaine.com/mainehomeperformance.htm or call 877-334-6583.