Posted in Environment

Have you gotten a free Energy Assessment?

Blower Door DiagramYou may have heard countless advertisements on the radio about receiving a “Free Home Energy Assessment” and wondered whether it was worth your time or not. If you haven’t, stay tuned, because I hope to convince you that it is worth your time. Whereas there is “No Free Lunch” in many states these “Free” Home Energy Assessments have already been financed, so, no they aren’t free, but you as the homeowner or renter do not pay for the visit. Likely, you have already paid for the assessment through a charge on your monthly utility bill. I live in Massachusetts, so, I know more about the MassSave program so this is the perspective that I will speak from, however, by simply Google-ing, “Free Home Energy Assessment (State)” you should receive some information about this process and a number to contact to set up this appointment. Please stay tuned to find out what this process is all about.

As I currently work in the energy efficiency industry, I do have a bias towards this process, however, I do not see how this can hurt anyone. In Massachusetts, we have an initiative set up called, “Mass Save.” Mass Save was set up to further incentivize weatherization for homeowners who live in Massachusetts. Here’s how it works…

  1. When you get your next utility bill, look under “Delivery Services” or a similar phrase. There it should provide five various customer charges…
    • Distribution Charge
    • Transition
    • Transmission
    • Renewable Energy
    • Energy Conservation
  2. We are going to focus on the Energy Conservation charge. This charge is a fund which the Mass Save program mandates Utility companies to collect in the state of Massachusetts and distribute back to consumers through energy efficiency initiatives through local vendors.
  3. This is where the Free Energy Assessment comes in. If you are unsure who provides this service in your area of Massachusetts you can call Mass Save at (866) 537-7267 to find out. Don’t worry, we don’t bite!

Mass Save Logo

So you’re contemplating on calling for a Free Home Energy Assessment or simply an “Energy Audit”. What are the benefits you get for doing this? I work on Cape Cod through the Cape Light Compact with a company called, Rise Engineering, so I will describe what we do, but each area has a slightly different program so make sure to ask the service providers who will be visiting your home exactly what it is that they do, however, it should be similar to what I describe.

Upon arriving at your home we will give you an overview of our visit which will sound like this…

We will ask you what prompted the call for the energy audit, so that we can target our time towards fulfilling the reason you called for the audit in order to address any and all concerns you may have from an energy and weatherization stand-point.

From that point on, we will describe what it is that we will do and why we are at your home. We are at your home to make it as energy efficient as possible, and save you as much money as possible on your heating, cooling, and electricity bills. While at your home we will run a variety of diagnostic tests on your home including an air tightness test referred to as a Blower Door Test. This test requires the energy auditing team to set up a large fan in a door jam attached to an exterior wall and blow air out of your home to determine the “tightness” of your home. Do not fret though, this test is only a few minutes long, and you do not need to leave your home while this test is being conducted. This is a crucial test which will tell the team whether insulation and weatherization recommendations are warranted or if your home is already efficient. In certain circumstances this test cannot be performed due to barriers to performing the test such as Vermiculite which was a form of insulation used around the mid 20th century but has since been discovered to contain asbestos, a fiber which can cause mesothelioma if absorbed through the lung tissue.

Once this test is completed, the energy auditing team will be up in attics and down in basements/crawlspaces to observe those spaces and see how weatherization measures can make your home more efficient.

Combustion safety testing will also occur on your heating equipment including your heating systems and Domestic Hot Water heater if they rely on combustion to complete their reactions.

Various pressure testing will occur throughout this process including turning on and off exhaust equipment so don’t fret if you hear your dryer running and are wondering, “Did I start that load?”

Once this testing is complete, a technician will install energy efficient lighting in your home where ever possible. Below is an image comparing the current lighting technology (residential) and how they compare, cost-, brightness-, and life cycle-wise. During this time the auditor will finish their weatherization recommendations and print out a report to go over with you.

Energy Efficient Lighting Comparisons

What we find more and more often on the Cape is that many people are willing to go forward with weatherization measures for their homes merely because it makes cents. Often times these measure are 75% subsidized and up, leading to very quick paybacks, often as little as two to three years.

All in all, this is a very rewarding process. You get to learn a little more about your home and possibly can receive weatherization which will make your home more snug and cost-effective for you and your family. So, what are you waiting for? Call for a Free Energy Assessment and see how energy efficiency professionals can help save you money and make you more comfortable in your home.

For those that have had this assessment already, what did you think? Let us know! We would love to hear from you.

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