Home Energy Audits

By Rachel Braaten

In late September, I decided to have a home energy audit conducted on my home. I wanted to know what we could do to help us save energy, and reduce our consumption of fossil fuels. I chose to go with the Home Energy Squad. This is the story of how it went.

First off, it was in late September when I made the appointment, and they finally visited my home on January 11th. So I waited quite a while for this to actually happen. The day of, they gave me a 20 minute notice, and when they arrived, they were friendly (and dare I say patient). There were two people, and they worked on different things during their time in my home. The audit took three hours.

One of them was looking all around my house, finding little fixes that could be done immediately while they were here. She changed three incandescent light bulbs to LEDs, put weather stripping around my front door, installed a sealer along the bottom of my front door, AND replaced my kitchen faucet nozzle and my show-er head! This is the part of their trip that I actually paid for, and all this work was only $100. The other worker didn’t cost anything.

The other worker found a lot of ways to improve the efficiency of my home, and also found some safety issues. It turns out, when we run our dryer or our exhaust fan in the kitchen, carbon monoxide is being pulled into our house from the top of our water heater and furnace! I also learned that our water heater is 20 years old, and is quite inefficient anyway, so this will be at the top of our list for replacement. The recommendation was to switch to a water heater with heat pump technology, which has become ultra-efficient over the years. This will switch us away from gas, to electric, and we’re already paying for renewables through Xcel.

Probably the most interesting part of the visit was when they did the blower door test. They installed a big fan inside our front door and sucked air to the outside. This thing can measure how much leakage is coming through our house! While the blower door was running, they went around taking infrared images, finding areas where air was coming into our home! Very cool…cool indeed, we need caulking above our back door. And we will benefit from getting our room joists in our basement insulated. This will probably have the effect of making our basement much more comfortable, and usable.

If you’re interested in getting a home energy audit conducted on your home, you can do it through the Home Energy Squad, but the actual visit is through a third party called CEE (Center for Energy and Environment). Any-way, the website is here: https://www.mncee.org/home-energy-squad

All this for $100. After the visit, they followed up with an email, which lays out all their findings, and will be assisting me with next steps. I have been paired with a home energy advisor, who can help find rebates for energy efficient appliances, and can also help me find the right professional who has passed CEE’s standards for proper installation. So now, I just need to make that call.