By Jennifer O’Gara
Working for the past seven years in the energy industry, I knew the financial and comfort benefits of improving my home’s energy efficiency, not to mention my small contribution to lowering carbon emissions.
Saving energy can be one of those things we all tend to put off — like planning for retirement, eating right and exercising. Every month I would save the energy audit flyer in my electric bill. Every month I planned to call. This spring, I received a post card that finally inspired me to pick up the phone and schedule an appointment.
I approached getting an energy audit as a step toward a more healthy lifestyle. Not only are we shedding unwanted energy expenses, my family now has a far more comfortable home.
PECO, my local energy utility, was running a special. For a cost of $25, the audit included a comprehensive evaluation of my home, including its physical structure, heating and cooling system, appliances, and more. I was then given a report summarizing the findings and recommendations to help improve my home’s energy efficiency as well as an action plan with a list of approved contractors.
During the inspection, the auditor upgraded my lights to LED bulbs in the bathroom, kitchen, living room, bedrooms and family room. My family received two new, water-saving handheld shower heads. Plus, the auditor wrapped the pipes to my hot water heater. The value of all these services far exceed what I paid for the audit!
Among the most interesting parts of the audit, a blower door test was performed to measure the airtightness in my circa-1982 house. In response, the auditor recommended we Insulate the attic cavity to R38 or better, to obtain 13 inches of insulation and to weather strip and insulate the pull-down staircase to the attic.
The findings did not come as a surprise. Our second floor, compared to the rest of the house, gets much hotter in the summer and far colder in the winter. To sleep comfortably, we turn the thermostat up or down at night depending on the season. The morning comes and the rest of the house is then either too hot or too cold respectively.
The entire process was so easy. I sent the PECO report to an approved contractor on a list given to me from the PECO auditor. Green Stone Energy came to our house on a Saturday and reviewed the recommendations. We received a cost estimate right on target with the PECO projection.
After the installation was complete, we qualified for $600 in rebates. The nice thing is the contractor files for the rebate, so there was no paperwork for me.
The results were noticeable right of way. Since adding the attic insulation, I have kept my thermostat about 5 degrees higher. I do not have to wear a sweater downstairs to keep it comfortable upstairs. I expect to lower the thermostat this winter.
My only regret is that I could not do this 25 years ago when we moved into our house. We would have saved so much energy, not to mention increased the comfort of our home. My family appreciates the improvements now, but I regret not making the house more comfortable especially when my children were younger.
The entire project was very easy and reasonable. Plus, an added benefit I had not expected, I got my attic cleaned out!
Do not put off to tomorrow what you can do today. Especially when it will save you money, increase your comfort, and make an impact on the environment.