Go Green While Getting Extra Green

When the Beckers of Riva decided to go green, they did not add green to their landscape. They opted to add some extra green to their wallets by doing a home energy audit-- to test for efficiency and identify problem areas, such as air leaks or installation voids. Sure, there is an initial cost, but according to Nicholas Neboshynsky of Improvement Zone, energy audits seek to identify issues that can be repaired at a cost that can be recouped in 3-5 years.

Reducing energy bills is the main driver for most people to hire companies like Improvement Zone to do energy audits. With all the available rebates, the initial cost is actually fairly low. An energy audit costs $400, but the first $300 is subsidized by energy providers such as BGE. This brings your total down to $100. But wait, there’s more! You also get 12 CFL light bulbs, 2 low flow shower heads, and up to 4 low flow aerators. Make sure you are sitting down because it gets even better! Some energy companies such as BGE, will cover up to 50% of the repair costs to fix the problems identified in the audit.

While each house, new or old, is unique, Improvement Zone said that the following are most common:
Air leaking into the basement from unfinished areas and crawl spaces
Air leaks from the living space to the attic
Air leaks from exterior doors
Low insulation in the attic

These problems are identified through a series of tests. The Blower Door Test determines how much air is leaking out of the house by using a large, powerful fan to depressurize the home. The infrared thermal image scan camera, which does make you feel like you have superhero powers, seeks out temperature variations in walls which may indicate an area in need of insulation or sealing. Improvement Zone also tests to be sure gasses are able to leave the house properly along with a watt meter and air quality test. All of the data collected is compiled, put into a complete report, and given to the homeowner.

Why do an energy audit? Emily Becker said “It’s a win-win situation because you save energy, save money, and receive incentives from the power companies.” In Emily’s case, Improvement Zone recommended sealing identified leaks, installing additional insulation in specific areas, along with other small things that can all add up to substantial energy loss. Luckily, all of these modifications are eligible for the 50% tax credit. She would have jumped at this opportunity sooner, but did not learn about it until a friend told her. Clay, an Improvement Zone employee, agreed that not many people know about all the benefits of an energy audit – there needs to be more public education on the benefits.

Do you want to get an energy audit for your home? Call Improvement Zone or any other provider in your area. Improvement Zone recommends scheduling an audit in the summer or winter where the temperature differences between inside and outside are the greatest.

A special thank you to the Beckers for inviting us to their home during their energy audit! Go green at your home? Tell us about it and you could be the next South River Federation’s “Go Green Project of the Month!”

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