Friday, February 1, 2008

Energy Audit Revealing

An article in the Hartford Courant about the energy audit a home received reveals the value of these audits, which are free to many customers through their utility company. Check out an excerpt below:
The last time I got an "F" was on an algebra test in ninth grade.So when my beloved home built in 1915 failed its energy-efficiency test, I took it personally.I had asked Isaac Torres, a home-energy specialist with the Connecticut Home Energy Solutions program, to "grade" my family's 2,000-square-foot house after he tested it for drafts and leaks.
That's when I had to face up to the truth — something I already knew deep in my heart when I paid the $500 gas bill every month — that the Arts and Crafts house of my dreams was a sieve.He based the grade on a "blower door" test that measures leakage (or drafts) into a house by the number of air changes per hour that occur inside. The test showed that the heat inside our house was being "swapped" for cold air 1 1/2 times every hour. The target level (reached by very few houses) is 0.35 air swaps per hour. My house was losing four times that much.That made it one of the draftiest Torres had seen in his two years with the Energy Solutions program, which is funded by the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund and administered by Connecticut Light & Power.Even this chilling information didn't sway my love for the house, with its dark oak fireplace mantel, built-in leaded-glass bookcases and French doors that open to a huge sun porch.Torres tried to console me. He said he had seen worse.Eager to find out how to button my house up, I followed Torres and his co-worker Chris Graham for the next five hours as they weatherstripped doors and plugged the crannies, holes and gaps where New England's raw winter air flowed in.They replaced incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. They put a low-flow shower head in our bathroom and an aerator on the kitchen faucet to save water.When the two were done, the test showed their work had reduced the cold air "swap" in the house to 1 time every hour — an improvement, but still three times the target level.The cost of the audit and work: free. It's available to customers of Connecticut Light & Power, Connecticut Natural Gas, Yankee Gas or United Illuminating who heat with natural gas or electricity. (The cost is $300 for homes heated with oil.) Customers actually pay for the Home Energy Solutions program through a 0.211 cents-per-kilowatt-hour surcharge on their electricity bill, said program manager Craig Clark, of CL&P.Clark said the 2-year-old program has grown popular as energy costs have soared. Last year, 17 two-person crews visited 4,400 homes — "from trailers to mansions." Clark advertises the program in gas and electric bill inserts, but only sporadically, to keep the waiting list down. (The wait is about one month at this point.)I signed up after seeing a flier that said the program could help lower energy costs in just one visit.Clark said each crew visits two houses a day. Besides working on houses like mine that use gas- or oil-generated radiant heat, the crews seal leaks in houses with duct systems. For the energy companies, each dollar spent on saving energy is more cost-effective than buying fuel to make electricity, Clark said, and burning less fuel causes less pollution.He said efficient lighting and weatherization are the primary improvements needed by most homes the program audits.This surprised me. I had always figured the reason my family wore coats around the house in the winter and issued wool blankets to visitors was because the house didn't have enough insulation.When we moved into the house seven years ago, we replaced 21 windows on the second and third floors to save on energy costs. Clark told me our money would have been better spent on insulation — windows account for only a small percentage of energy loss in a house.
Interfaith Power and Light is a religious response to global warming with chapters in 25 states and Greater Washington, D.C. Find a link to your local chapter at discounts on energy saving products at


Anonymous said...
Energy audit at home - to it yourself!

John said...

If anyone is looking for an energy audit provider near them, i suggest checking out the Energy Audit Directory, which you can get to by googling "energy audit directory" or going right to

Thanks for the post!

Mike Rogers said...

Good recommendations--there are a lot of simple things people can do. And there are deeper improvements that make homes more energy-efficient (and safer and more comfortable at the same time). Regarding the home energy audit, it’s important to get the right audit–accurate and actionable and looking at the right things like duct leakage, air infiltration, and equipment efficiency and combustion safety and an analysis of utility bills. For a bit more background on audits and additional links, follow my post at

Thanks and good luck!