Colder temperatures are driving up utility bills forcing some homeowners to consider new ways to save energy. The City of Bloomington, the South Central Community Action Program and other agencies are partnering together this week to offer free energy assessments during “Beat the Meter Blitz.”
A typical home energy assessment costs around 3 hundred dollars … but not this one. Homeowners Maarten Bout and Andrea Havill signed up as soon as they heard about the free assessments this fall.
“You can do many things, you can start with the furnace, you can start with the insulation, you can do your windows,” said Bout. “We don’t really know what the first step is and I think where we would need advice is where our money is going to get the biggest bang for the buck.”
Their house was built in the 1950′s with different standards and materials made of different quality. Havill said it makes a big difference in their energy bills.
“In the winter months and summer months, about 3 in the winter and 3 in the summer, it’s at least three times higher than the others.”
An EPA report states residential buildings use about 20 percent of all energy consumed in the country… and about 54 percent of that total is for heating and cooling.
“Energy efficiency is great but not at the expense of comfort, so you want to be comfortable first and then you want to try and optimize what you have,” said Ted Mendoza. He is the local chair of the U.S. Green Building Council and the auditor for this assessment.
Mendoza started in the living room and made his way throughout the house, including the basement and attic.
“There’s a lot that could be done here – just the insulation alone or lack thereof the modern style at least. You could put more down here, you can also put some roll up bat insulation in between the rafters here.”
Bathroom sinks were checked for aerators.
“You see it’s a very solid stream of water, doesn’t have an aerator in it. If you put one in, then it could cut the water usage in half,” said Mendoza.
He also used a temperature detection device to pinpoint drifts of cold air leaking into the house from cracks in the wall seams, windows and doors.
Not all improvements require major renovations. Mendoza used another gadget that shows how much energy an appliance uses. He used it on their computer and soon found out that the idle computer was the same as leaving a 100 watt light bulb on.
In their final evaluation, the homeowners agree that insulating the attic and weatherizing doors is the best investment for now. In the end, saving money but also living greener.
Sustainability Coordinator for the City of Bloomington Jacqui Bauer said the free assessment time slots filled up in 2 days. They hope to find funding for another round in January.
For a more complete video, watch The Weekly Special, Thursday night at 8 / Friday night at 6 on WTIU.