Saturday, August 15, 2009

My Home Energy Audit

I've always been curious about doing a home energy audit, but my husband beat me to the punch by ordering one this July! Through the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund,, 2 contractors came out to my house early one morning and for the price of $75, these 2 gentlemen ran a special fan (the blower-door test) to create a vacuum in my house, identified the areas that were the greatest "energy suckers" by walking around and checking each door, window, staircase, and gap in the floorboards (did I ever mention my house is 100+ years old?) and then went about with their weatherstripping and caulk guns and sealed those leaks.

Afterwards they ran the test again, to determine the new airflow, which had improved significantly. The before rate was 4523, which they said wasn't bad at all for a house our age, and the after was 4163.

In an old house like ours, the worst culprit is usually the windows, but we replaced all of them 10 years ago just after we bought the house. We used wedding gift money and my fantastic uncle (who installed windows for a living) installed them as his gift to us.

The biggest leak of all came from the door to our walk-up attic. When they turned on the fans it felt like the Mistral winds were blowing out from under our attic door! So while the weatherstripping helped tremendously, the company recommended insulating the old part of our attic. We're investigating how to do this without ripping up the lovely old floorboards, and it looks like a blown in insulation will do the trick.

Another big leak came from the staircase that leads upstairs where below it are stairs to the basement. We knew there was a gap - you can actually see the light from the basement through them (it's how we know if Scott's left the light on down there.) Apparently a little caulk from under the stairs will do the trick.

They also offered to check our pipes, which we'd already insulated, and discussed low-flow shower heads, but since we're on well water they didn't recommend it (we don't have a whole lot of water pressure to begin with.) Since we don't have any duct work, they didn't have to test that, but they would have, had it applied to us.

Lastly, they changed out all of our light bulbs that weren't on dimmers (and in our case, my brother Steve the electrician had installed A LOT of dimmers for us) with compact fluorescent lightbulbs (CFLs.) I think I counted 14 bulbs.

This is Timothy, from NECS, who very kindly allowed me to photograph him changing the lightbulb in my lamp.

To wrap up the visit, the contractors reviewed everything with us and gave a folder full of information on energy rebates, solar panel leasing programs (because we're interested in that) plus lots of reading materials on lowering energy bills.

As a fun bonus, they also left us a Kill-A-Watt meter, which measures how much energy each of our appliances uses. We're generally very good about unplugging appliances when not in use, but there are certain things like the coffee maker that I'll be curious to check!

For more information on the program, follow this link:

What was our favorite part of the experience? The fact that what could be fixed there and then was taken care of. On the spot. Left up to us, it would have ended up on the mile-long "to do" list that comes along with home ownership. That alone was worth the $75.

I'll be watching our oil use this winter to see if this has made a difference!