. Our Energy Audit Eureka Moment by Neil Waldman
In 2011 we took advantage of Pepco and government rebates and incentives to get an energy audit of our home. When the inspector called me into our laundry room I was literally blown away. They had placed a big exhaust fan in our front door and closed every window and exterior door. but I was feeling a major burst of cold air coming down from the ceiling. Even with thick insulation in the attic, insulated windows and vinyl siding over an insulated backing board our house was essentially open. I later learned that 50 years ago when Pulte built our houses there were no insulation building requirements. So it was up to us to act. Our reward was that our gas and electric bills dropped by 30% after engaging an insulation contractor and updating our furnace and air conditioner. To have simply replaced the 12 year old furnace and air conditioner without the audit and insulation work would have been a wasted opportunity.
Read Ted Maker’s guide so you too can take advantage:
Get Free Green by Going Green by Ted Maker
I admit it. I have two passions; saving the planet and saving money. I had no idea that the two passions could merge. To me improving energy efficiency used to mean saving a few pennies a month: turning down the water heater temperature or replacing the worn weather stripping around the sliding glass door. These days that’s not good enough. I want to do more for the environment and I want to save more money. Spoiler alert: You can do both and it’s easy if you know where to look. I searched the Internet and reviewed dozens of lists showing ways to be energy efficient: seal drafts, improve insulation, or reduce electricity. Each item on a list would save some money, but would also require some, none, or a ton of effort. It was maddening to figure out what to do first. But then, I discovered a better approach; go for the biggest bang for the buck, and go for the easy money.
Here’s what I learned: The biggest bang for the buck is with Heating and Cooling. For most homes it represents almost 50% of Energy Consumption. Major appliances -washer, dryer, refrigerator, stove and dishwasher- come in second at 23%, but realistically, I am not going to replace an appliance till it breaks. Same is true for the water heater (14%). Lighting comes in fourth, and while it is only 12%, there are free LED light bulbs to be had. But what improvements should you make, and which ones first? The simple answer: have an Energy Star Home Energy Assessment by an authorized Pepco contractor. It costs $100. The rub: it retails for $400 but part of your electric bill subsidizes it. You have actually been paying for other people to get them! So, you should get one and let others subsidize yours. They conduct a 2-hour assessment with diagnostic tests and give you a Home Energy Audit Report and a Prioritized List of Measurements(PLOM) – just for your home. This assessment lists those changes you can make that will give you the most cost-efficient energy improvements. The PLOM also includes the Pepco Rebates you will receive when the measures are completed. You chose which measures you do. We had an assessment done. The measurements we’re considering would give us Pepco Rebates of over $2000, close to 1/3 of the price to do the upgrades. And the payback period for the upgrades is only 2 to 3 years. This is important! To receive the Rebates, Pepco insists that the work meets certain standards, so use a participating Pepco contractor. Typically, the contractor will be the firm that does the Assessment. (If they don’t credit back $100 Assessment fee, ask for it.) Pepco requires that once the work is completed, the contractor has to reassess your home to make sure the expected improvements are reached. If not, the contractor is obligated to fix it at no cost to you. You are not going to get that kind of assurance with any other home improvement. Click here to see our Pepco Home Energy Audit Report.
I hope I have convinced you of the value of the audit. You can go to https://homeenergysavings.pepco.com/home-performance-with-energy-star-program to “Request an audit” or “Find an auditor.” There are 34 approved Pepco Auditors in Maryland. There you will find further details on each auditing company. We used Complete Home Solutions. Please let me know how it goes! EdwardKMaker@gmail.com