A Year of Green Living – Is a Home Energy Audit Worth it?
On Wednesday, I received a $362 check (woohoo!) from the Energy Trust of Oregon. This isn’t the first check I’ve received, but it’s been the biggest so far. And why did they grace me with this new found money? For insulating my attic. The 1957 home I purchased in 2012 still had its original, now much compacted, insulation and was leaking heat. This October, I finally upgraded to R38 insulation before another winter set in.
The surprising part of completing this project is how the living room “cold zone” almost instantly became the same temperature as the rest of the house. Even better, my heating bills are down 25% this winter over last! I hadn’t honestly believed it would make that much of a difference. And while it’s unseasonable warm right now, we had a good snow and freeze early in January that I’ve already seen the bill for.
While conscious consumerism is an essential part of green living, we have to look well beyond shopping to make our largest impacts. So to answer my own question; Yes, getting a Home Energy Audit is well worth the time and money. Here’s a good intro video, though each state handles them a little differently.
In my case, I didn’t have the full-blown audit like the one shown, but I did have an inspector point out areas of concern. Since I was already doing some renovations, I had my contractor make suggestions and then compared the two to determine which areas would have the most impact. In addition to the attic insulation refund, I was able to take advantage of a rebate on an Energy Star refrigerator and a tax credit for upgrading to an energy efficient water heater.
If you’re not quite ready to have someone do something as extensive as in the video, you can also try Energy Star’s self-assessment test. If it looks like you can make some improvements, whether from windows, appliances, heating and air-condition, insulation or elsewhere, there’s a good chance you can get some financial help for it. Here’s a list of incentive programs by state.
This is a great green step that not only has environmental impacts, but can also be a good financial investment for the long haul.
As a side note, we steered away from compact florescent light bulbs in favor of the more expensive, longer lasting, and much greener LED bulbs. This Light Bulb Showdown has LEDs winning on price alone, with other benefits like no heavy metals in LEDs, being icing on the cake.