A Home Energy Audit: What Can You Expect?
On October 17, 2007, Donnie Bouchie from Progress Energy (PE) paid a visit at our house for a free home energy audit. The whole process takes about an hour and entails the service technician doing the following:
- Examines your past energy use and compares it to an equivalent size home
- Question you about your power use: A/C temperature, # of people in home
- Examines the attic vents, looking for leaks or tears in the material
- Checks the attic insulation for sufficient R-value (thickness) and consistency
- Examines the A/C air handler for:
- Compares the A/C capacity vs house size
- Is the A/C filter clean?
- Looks upward toward the coils (past the filter) to see if things look clean
- Checks outside of window surface looking for air leaks at the gaskets
- Check the hot water heater temperature
- Wrap up where the representative discusses available rebates and course of action.
To give you more of a feel, I recorded the whole event with Donnie's agreement, with my trusty MP3 recorder. The recording is available here:
In the attic, he found that rodents (which were previously taken care of) had chewed some small holes in the A/C junction boxes which were letting cold air escape into the attic. (Donnie explained that squirrels or rats use the insulation to lie in but prefer to travel on the vents, often sitting on the junction boxes.) It's a little hard to see but notice the yellowish areas in the black along the edges.
The point of his examination is to recommend real solutions which address the real problems without wasting the home owner's money on fixes that aren't needed.
Near the end, Donnie recommended us having an inexpensive attic vent pressure test. A contractor lowers the pressure in the house and pressurizes the vents looking for air leaks which will then be fixed. (PE has a rebate to pay for half of this cost.) After the leaks are fixed, Donnie recommended raising the attic insulation, which again Donnie offered rebate information depending on the choices we are willing to make.
PE has many rebates available for solar heating, solar cells, insulation, and power saving devices using their list of approved contractors. The incentives are geared for different customers, including those with limited incomes, including apartment renters. Donnie left us with a goodie box (see picture) which contained a EnergyWise info, rebate forms, weather strip insulation for doors and windows, insulation for light switches, a thermometer to check both the refrigerator and water heater temperatures, along with two CFL bulbs.
As part of their Save the Watts program, PE offers the EnergyWise program. Essentially, the program is a series of items that are hooked up to the home that allows PE to back down your energy use during their peak demand periods. Obviously, power use is uneven throughout the day where say at 4 AM power use is very low. However, at 6PM people arrive home and turn on their A/Cs, televisions, computers, and fix dinner. It is during these times that they can back down your power use and reallocate that to other customers. This program offers some monetary savings for the home owner (on their bill), along with some pre-qualifiers. Conservation along with programs such as these offer the potential for delaying construction of new power plants.
The various utilities offer audits (online or to your place of residence) to cut your energy use.
Progress Energy- Home Energy Check Make sure that you have your bill accnt # and pin# available for sign up.
OUC- Home Energy Audit
These rebates and programs, along with the obvious power bill savings, act as strong incentives for the customer. If you're interested in both cutting your electric bill and helping to reduce pollution, then by all means avail yourself of these free programs.
Gary- UUUS Green Sanctuary Chair