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Energy audits enable local homeowners to stay warm and save on utility costs

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As winter temperatures plunge lower and home thermostats are turned higher, keeping cold air outdoors while reducing heating costs down is a priority for area homeowners.

A home energy audit is a proven method for homeowners to identify potential sources of energy leaks. It also can deliver significant benefits, including decreased utility usage, reduced energy costs, making your home interior more comfortable and decreasing a family’s environmental footprint.

Rebates provided by Maryland’s Home Performance with Energy Star program can reduce the cost of a home energy audit to $100, down from the typical $400 to $600 price.

Rebates are funded by surcharges from utility companies, including Pepco, authorized by the emPOWER Maryland initiative, the state’s commitment to reduce energy consumption 15 percent by 2015.

Eric Coffman, an energy efficiency expert from Montgomery County’s Department of General Services says homeowners have the option of obtaining an audit, or an audit report, along with an estimate for services to fix problem areas. Coffman said a typical audit consists of:

  • Blower door test - Placing a fan in the doorway to determine if there are leaks. This test will show if your house needs improvements such as weatherstripping, calking, or insulation.
  • Thermal imaging - Some contractors will measures differences in temperature throughout the house. This is another indicator of potential heat leakage.
  • Measuring insulation - Determines if a home has sufficient insulation density to prevent heat from escaping from ceiling or attic.
  • Safety inspection for combustion appliances - Provided for homes with a gas- or oil-fueled furnace
  • Summary report - Contractors provide widely varying reports. Some deliver brief summaries with a list of suggested repairs. Others deliver reports with detailed information photographs and more detailed information about energy leaking that can cause drafts.

Coffman said Maryland’s Home Performance with Energy Star program also provides financial incentives — including low-interest loans and rebates — that can reduce the cost of designated energy-efficiency related home improvements.

Nearly 50 area contractors provide energy audits in Montgomery County. All are certified under the Building Performance Institute, the nation’s premier standards organization for residential contractors. These providers can help keep homes warm and cozy this winter.

For additional information regarding energy audits, visit the Montgomery County Department of Environmental Protection.

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