Your spring home maintenance should include an energy audit – The Washington Post

by | Apr 21, 2022 | Energy

Placeholder while article actions loadWhen Karina and Calvin Jenkins Jr. bought their townhouse in Gaithersburg, Md., in 2018, they knew it would need some improvements.What they didn’t realize was how cold two of the bedrooms in their house would be in winter, and how warm they’d be in summer. And these were the rooms where their sons, ages 4 and 1½, slept.“I noticed it right away,” said Karina, 37. “We thought if we turned the heat higher in winter and the air lower in the summer, that would help. We put a fan in one of the bedrooms, and it didn’t help at all.” They wondered: What else we could do?Their real estate agent had mentioned when they were buying the house, it would be good to replace the insulation in the attic but they hadn’t done it.Want to make your home more energy efficient? An architect took your questions.Since then, they read about a home energy assessment that their local utility, Pepco, offered. Last November, they decided to move forward.AdvertisementThe couple worked with an approved Pepco contractor, Zerodraft Maryland, which focuses on energy efficiency, and conducted the Home Performance with Energy Star program assessment. For $100, an auditor came to their all-electric townhouse to inspect every part of it, install energy-saving products, including LED lightbulbs, and gave them a detailed report of recommended improvements as well as the program rebates that would be available. Once they upgraded their townhouse, they would receive a certificate from Pepco outlining the changes they made to make their space more energy efficient and more comfortable.They wanted to spend no more than $3,000 on the improvements.Their report recommended:Air sealing their attic floor.Adding new insulation on top of the sealed attic floor.Applying spray foam insulation on their basement rim joist and overhanging cantilevered floor.Installing a new bathroom exhaust fan and insulating the ductwork around the new fan.Adding a new exhaust-fan timer switch to eliminate moisture and ensure that adequate air was being exchanged in and out of the townhouse.Upgrading the HVAC system.Keeping within their budget, the couple moved ahead with all the recommendations except the upgraded HVAC system, which was the most expensive item on the list.AdvertisementThe cost of the energy-saving recommendations was $3,718, and with the rebates, their cost was $2,584.65. Through the Pepco program, the rebates can either be assigned to the homeowner or the contractor. In this case, Zerodraft applied the discounts to the homeowners’ cost, and Zerodraft received the rebates from Pepco.Biden closes landmark summit with a message: Climate action equals jobsFor Karina and Calvin, the changes were welcome. “It did make a big difference,” Karina said. “I was impressed that I noticed the difference as quickly as I did.” The floors were no longer cold to the touch, she said.They’ve already noticed dollar savings as well. This past winter, they realized a $30 savings per month in 2022 over 2021, and the savings continued in their March bill but they weren’t as significant. When energy demand is typically higher, the cost per kilowatt hour is higher while in times of lower demand, the cost is lower.Basically, there are two major reasons people decide to schedule an energy assessment, also called an energy audit, on their home. “Often, it’s comfort that leads to an audit,” said Ryan Meres, program director of the Residential Energy Services Network, which sets standards for how people become certified as a Home Energy Rating System rater.The other reason is cost savings, a reduction in their energy bills, he said. “You decide which things you implement, which will give you the biggest bang for the buck based on doing the upgrade.”AdvertisementThere are a variety of ways to save energy, and what you choose depends on your home’s needs, what will remedy the problem and your budget.The amount of energy a household uses depends on its location and climate; the type of home and its physical characteristics; the number, type and efficiency of the energy-consuming devices and how much they are used; and the number of people in the household, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration.Experts say heating and cooling consume approximately half of the energy used in your home. For example, water heating consumes …

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