Letter to the editor: Energy audit can save big bucks

I love my home and wanted it to perform better. So I scheduled a professional energy audit from a BPI certified Home Performance with Energy Star contractor (also known as an energy auditor). I had no regrets.
Energy auditors know their building science. These professionals use diagnostic equipment valued at thousands of dollars to precisely measure your home for heat loss. It starts with a blower door test called a “test in” that measures the rate at which air leaks from your home based on BTUs/square foot. They can use an infrared camera to see missing insulation, but can assess much of this through a careful visual inspection and by taking measurements. They use combustion analysis equipment to test your heating appliances for efficiency and, more importantly, for health and safety as well as your ventilation equipment for adequacy.
To stay certified, energy auditors must do what other professionals do and be monitored, take ongoing coursework and retest every three years. This is what you are paying for when you get an energy audit. Energy audits cost $300 to $600 depending on the size and complexity of your home or small commercial building and are well worth it. I recovered every penny of it in fuel savings in my first year after starting weatherization measures recommended in my energy audit report, which I spread out over a few years. It’s better to do it all at once if you can. Some of this was through conservation steps any of us can take like setting back my thermostat at night and doing a better job with sealing and covering my old windows. I learned the bigger bang for my buck was air sealing and insulating my basement first and attic next rather than replacing my windows. I also learned that heating water was a major energy hog and added a solar hot water heater.
Energy auditors will often use the blower door equipment while air sealing is being done to be sure leaks are plugged adequately. They can’t always get all leaks due to access or expense constraints, but they typically reduce your heat loss by at least 10 percent and, in many older homes, by much more. On average about 380 gallons of fuel oil are saved annually by Vermonters after weatherization. This is true for me. I was burning as much as 800 gallons in my 1,700-square-foot home before 2007 and am now averaging 420 gallons. A final blower door test is done when work is complete to measure how much heat loss reduction was gained. This is called a “test out.” You need a “test in” and “test out” by a certified energy auditor to qualify for up to $2,500 in state rebates from Efficiency Vermont. On average it costs about $6,000 to $8,000 for weatherization.
Addison County residents can now get an energy audit for only $75 through NeighborWorks of Western Vermont HEAT Squad if you schedule between now and the end of February. Simply call 797-8604 and leave a message and they will schedule it and work with you throughout the whole process, which is outlined at heatsquad.org. They assign you an energy advisor who coaches and advocates for you every step of the way and have a great loan. You can do all or some of the work yourself to save on these costs and still get a state rebate provided you get an energy auditor to do a test in before you start work and a test out after you complete it.
Give your home an energy check up (audit) as soon as you can this year. You’ll learn how your home performs, how much fuel you may be wasting to heat the sky, and what you can do to improve it. Those of you who have completed projects could help by telling your neighbors about the many benefits of energy audits and weatherization and how to get started so they can love their homes even more. You can also join me in supporting HEAT Squad’s statewide expansion in order to bring affordable energy to underserved communities.
Laura Asermily
Former chair of the Middlebury Energy Committee

Share this story:

More News

Bernard D. Kimball, 76, of Middlebury

MIDDLEBURY — Bernard D. Kimball, 76, passed away in Bennington Hospital on Jan. 10, 2023. … (read more)

News Uncategorized

Fresh Air Fund youths returning to county

The Fresh Air Fund, initiated in 1877 to give kids from New York City the opportunity to e … (read more)

Obituaries Uncategorized

Mark A. Nelson of Bristol

BRISTOL — A memorial service for Mark A. Nelson of Bristol will be held 1 p.m. on Saturday … (read more)

Share this story: