As a solar energy consultant and REALTOR®, I encourage clients to have a home energy audit done before purchasing solar because the cheapest energy is the energy that you don’t use. As a homeowner, the best home improvement money I’ve ever spent was the investment in attic insulation recommended in our 2017 home energy audit. Our house is noticeably more comfortable. Our air conditioning rarely turns on. In fact, as I write this article, it is 3p on an 89-degree day, and my air conditioning still hasn’t kicked on. The money that we spent on insulation will save us far more than we spent.
What is included?
Columbia Gas offers a complete home energy audit for $50 (over $500 value): three-hour complete home inspection, 8-page personalized home performance report, and selection of energy mitigating supplies. The LED light bulbs, low-flow shower head, and “smart” power strip were worth more than $50.
What to expect?
Our home energy performance report was impressively detailed. In addition to results, it contained specific recommendations, and an analysis of savings-to-investment ratio (“SIR”) on recommended improvements. In our case, thermal sealing and additional insulation were recommended. The SIR on these improvements was 3.25, or $3.25 saved for every dollar spent. My thermostat is a daily testament to these savings.
While I initially balked at the three-hour time commitment, I feel it was worth every minute. The process was fascinating to watch. A blower door kept constant air pressure, while a trained energy auditor scanned every wall, window and outlet with a thermal camera. Watching this process is very enlightening, as it becomes clear where leaks should be sealed. Small leaks will not be individually listed in the report but observing the thermal scanning process allows you to note leaks that could be DIY-sealed.
Choosing the professionals to execute the larger projects was easy. Columbia Gas provided a list of ten capable contractors. Each company is familiar with the home energy audit process and the incentives that come with it.
We took advantage of incentives provided as a bonus for having the home energy audit done. The incentives were generous, offsetting 16 percent of the cost of recommended projects. Columbia Gas has special incentives for customers who complete improvements within 90 days, so we acted quickly and saved $150.
Cost savings is just one of many benefits of a home energy audit. You can rest in a much more comfortable home, knowing that you are doing your part to take care of the earth. When that home is listed for sale, its low utilities and energy efficiency are strong selling points that could boost sales price.
Columbia Gas consumers are eligible for the $50 home energy audit. Unfortunately, homeowners who do not have gas service are not eligible. AEP used to offer the same, but now only offers online home energy profiles. Homeowners who complete the AEP profile receive a similar selection of energy mitigating supplies. I highly recommend it for yourself and your clients. Information on audit vs. profile can be found at sunnysideofcbus.com/blog.
The City of Columbus Needs your Help!
Did you know Columbus was selected as a Bloomberg American Cities Climate Challenge winning city (one of only 25 nationwide) in January of 2019? Thanks to an innovative climate action plan to reduce air pollution and city-wide greenhouse emissions, the City has been accepted into a two-year accelerated program that provides resources and cutting-edge support to help the City meet or succeed near-term carbon reduction goals.
In addition to transit and business sector projects, the plan has an ambitious goal of completing 30,000 home energy audits in Columbus by the end of 2020!
Do your part: Direct clients (and yourself) to the program’s website for a list of available opportunities offered by Columbus Gas and AEP, including a free online assessment, multi-family unit audits, and more information on how you can help our City meet the goal!