How an Energy Audit Can Honestly Save You Money

Video Transcript

Video Transcript

RON HAZELTON:

Now, more than ever, cutting energy bills at home makes good sense.  In a typical home, 50 to 60 percent of the energy used goes for heating, cooling and lighting and often, well, much of that is wasted.  Well, local utility companies, like the one here in Connecticut where I live, are trying to change that by offering home owners home energy audits to help them find out where that energy is being lost and what to do about it. 

Chris Ehlert, the Manager of Residential Energy Services for the United Illuminating Company or UI, explains why.

CHRIS EHLERT:

UI provides programs, like Home Energy Solutions funded through the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund to help consumers lower their energy costs.

RON HAZELTON:

One of the key parts of these audits is the “Blower Door Test”.  First, this insert is placed in the door opening and snapped into position.  Then a blower is installed in the insert and sealed in place.  Finally, a control box gets mounted on the frame.  Next, the furnace is turned off, exterior doors are closed, fireplace dampers are put down, heating and cooling systems and exhaust fans are switched off and windows are closed and latched.
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When the fan is started, it begins to pull air from inside the home, lowering the interior pressure and creating a vacuum. 

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A smoke wand is then used to detect air leaks from light fixtures, fireplace dampers, windows, doors, electrical outlets on exterior walls, and gaps around heating and cooling ducts.  Once the leaks are detected, they can be reduced or eliminated.
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Duct work, for example, is reattached where it’s loose, and then sealed to the surrounding opening using foil tape.
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As part of the service, technicians who perform energy audits for the United Illuminating Company, use an expanding foam to seal around pipes that penetrate basement, ceilings and attic floors.  In addition, the technicians fill any gaps or openings that could allow air to leak through. 

They also install foam gaskets on electrical outlets and switches located in exterior walls.  Audit technicians may also install other energy-saving measures, such as door sweeps and weather stripping and may even apply interior caulk.

They will also advise home owners on how and where to apply exterior caulk and how to adjust door thresholds for a tight seal. 

Another important part of a home energy audit is something known as the “duct blaster test”.  For this diagnostic, a fitting is taped to a return register and all supply vents are sealed.  A section of flexible duct with an attached fan is connected to the fitting.  When the fan is turned on, the home’s duct system is pressurized.  Any escaping air is detected using the smoke wand.  These leaks, such as this joint, are then eliminated by applying a quick drying sealant. 
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A typical energy audit by UI and the Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund, includes an inspection of existing attic insulation.  If more is required, be sure to use the type without the paper vapor barrier.  Lay it in the same direction as the existing insulation until you reach the top of the joist.  Then run it perpendicular to the material underneath. 
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Also, doors and hatchways in attics that are not heated or cooled can be made more energy efficient by adding rigid insulation to backside.
Some energy leaks, such as those through exterior walls, can best be detected using an infra-red camera.  Walls that fail this test can be made more energy efficient by adding blown-in insulation. 

Twenty percent of the energy used in the average home is for lighting.  Replacing incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescents can cut lighting costs by up to seventy-five percent. What’s more, newer compact fluorescents come in a variety of styles and shapes that closely resemble their incandescent predecessors. 

The Connecticut Energy Efficiency Fund Program, like many others, includes some bulb replacement. 
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I decided to put the compact fluorescent lights to a test myself.  Now here are twelve standard incandescent lights.  As you can see, they’re drawing 636 watts.  Now, I’ll replace the incandescent bulbs with the same number of compact fluorescents.  These compact fluorescents are putting out the same amount of light as the incandescent bulbs but consuming only one quarter as much power – 160 watts. 
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CHRIS EHLERT:

When we look at washers and dryers, we’re really focusing in on the washing machine.  The traditional washer uses 50 gallons of water to wash one…one load of clothing.  If you were to upgrade to an Energy Star model, you reduce your water usage by fifty percent.  Through our program, we do offer consumers rebates to encourage them to replace their old inefficient models to Energy Star models.  If they act within forty-five days of our visit, we’ll actually double those rebates so you can receive up to $300 in appliance rebates through the program. 

RON HAZELTON:
Technicians will also install pipe insulation and point out other ways for home owners to save energy by explaining, for example, how to clean refrigerator coils, replace central heating and air conditioning filters, and clean the filters on window units.  The program also provides the home owner with their own watt meter so they can check for other energy hogs around the house. 

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The cost of the Connecticut Utilities version of the home energy audit?  Well, about $75.  Not a bad investment when you also consider:

CHRIS EHLERT:

There’s also federal tax credits available to consumers who upgrade heating systems, your central air conditioning, insulation, windows, doors, even getting into vinyl siding, there’s federal tax credits for vinyl siding as well.  And there are many states throughout the country that offer similar home assessment programs and I would encourage folks to check with their local utility for such programs.

Free or Low Cost Energy Audits Can Save a Bundle on Heating and Cooling Costs

A modern energy audit puts your home through a stress test of sorts to find out if, how and where it might be leaking heating or cooling dollars.  The technicians who perform this investigation draw a vacuum on the entire house, pressurize air ducts, employ infra-red temperture sensors and use numerous other techniques to track down potential energy wasting situations.  Often, this service is available from your local utility comnpany at little or no cost.  A thorough audit not only identifies problems, but also provides recommendations on how to correct them.  This video demostrates many of the methods and procedures commonly used.

More Informaton
to learn more about the energy audit t featured in this video click here.   Check with your local untility company to find out what's available in your community.