DC's Home Energy Audits Are Free...For a Few More Months

  • July 24th 2012

by Shilpi Paul

DC's Home Energy Audits Are Free...For a Few More Months: Figure 1
Courtesy of Elysian Energy.

For years, the District Department of the Environment (DDOE) has been offering free energy audits to single-family homeowners in the District.

The audits (you can learn more and apply for one here) are quite comprehensive: the auditor examines all indoor areas of the home, including the attic and basement, and also examines the outdoor environment. They perform various energy-efficiency tests, make recommendations and even outfit the inspected home with efficient light bulbs and faucet aerators. Audits are restricted to homes of 4,000 square feet or less, and condos and co-ops are not eligible. (UrbanTurf reached out to DDOE to see if this included condos in converted row houses, but has not heard back yet.)

Come September 30th, however, DC Sustainable Energy Utility will be taking over the audit program. The new audits will be more comprehensive, but will no longer be free. Instead, they will cost anywhere from $350 to $500 depending on the size of the home.

Before these fees went into effect, this writer decided to take advantage of the service. A few weeks after submitting an application, I was visited by DJ Soriano, a Green Building Project Specialist from Elysian Energy. Soriano spent two hours examining everything in the home for deficiencies and areas of opportunities, looking at equipment, insulation and potential leaky areas. He went up into the attic to see what, if any, insulation was up there, checked the water heater and oven for carbon monoxide leakage, and went from room to room changing out old lightbulbs for energy efficient CFLs.

The most effective diagnostic tool he used in finding leaky areas was the blower door test. Soriano attached a large, strong fan to one of the home’s external doors and pulled air forcefully out of the house. Sucking out forced air from the outside allowed Soriano to easily diagnose areas in the house that were leaking. In my old row house, those areas were many: under the door, by the stairs, around the windows, just to name a few problem areas. In the report that came back earlier this week, along with a slightly depressing photo essay of my sieve-like home with the leaks outlined in neon green, Soriano determined that we have the equivalent of a 1.2 square-foot hole in the wall.

Luckily, the report also comprehensively outlined the steps that need to be taken to repair those gaps, including recommendations on what kind of material to use, as well as Energy Star’s Do-It-Yourself guide to air sealing.

All in all, a two hour audit yielded some important knowledge about the house. DC homeowners would be wise to apply for the valuable service while it is still gratis.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/free_energy_audits_available_for_a_few_more_months/5810.

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