Thursday, July 8, 2010

Saving money with home energy audits

By Eli M. Levitt, Climate Policy Group

Last year, my wife and I decided to trim our energy budget and save some money. Our family goal has turned into a series of on-going projects.

We challenged ourselves to find cost-effective ways to reduce our energy use. Before getting professional advice, we started to “green” our 1913 craftsman home. In the past two years, we have:
  • Insulated the attic, first floor and most of the furnace ducts.
  • Installed energy efficient lights.
  • Gradually replaced the grass lawn with native and edible plants.
  • Consistently turned off power strips for laptops, stereo, and other gadgets at night and whenever we leave the house.
But we knew we could do more, and we wanted to learn about all of our options before investing too much sweat equity. We wanted a clean set of priorities.

So we signed up for a home energy audit with a nonprofit called Thurston Energy. It was fast and cheap. Local contractor Bernie Miller completed the audit in a few hours. And the price of $95 is hard to beat – it’s about 75 percent off the retail value.

The report form was clear and useful. We plan to follow up on a number of recommendations like sealing the sill plates in our basement, insulating and taping the last of our air ducts, and repairing leaks around windows and doors.

If we follow up on all of the suggested improvements, we could save about $300 per year by reducing our energy use by about 200 therms of natural gas and 87 kilowatt hours of electricity per year.

We’ve learned a lot by doing the projects on our own. We even made it into the local paper (June 1, 2010 ). With good data in hand we’re confident there is still room for improvement.

Here’s to saving money, cutting our carbon footprint, and learning new skills along the way.

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