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When Is it Time for a Residential Energy Assessment? or Home Energy Score?

By Suzie Romig, YVSC

For a few years, I hesitated to change out the incandescent light bulbs in our tool shed not wanting to be “wasteful” by throwing out functioning bulbs. When in fact, not throwing out incandescent bulbs is wasteful. Switching two bulbs to LEDs lowered the shed’s power use from 175 watts to 17 watts, a 90 percent energy savings, and long-lasting LEDs are less expensive to purchase than ever.

Procrastinating about switching to new lighting technology is something local certified energy auditors Greg Pohlman and Ivars Mikelsons encounter in homes across Routt and Moffat counties. Residents think they should wait until incandescent bulbs burn out, but in the meantime, they are wasting money and valuable energy.

Changing to all Energy Star-rated LED bulbs is one of five top recommendations by the energy auditors. Correctly setting a programmable thermostat, replacing an inefficient refrigerator with a new Energy Star model and sealing well around doors are all important too. Stopping heat loss into an attic rounds out the top five, including sealing and insulating attic hatches and fireplace flues and retrofitting unsealed canned lighting.

“The most commonly asked question is ‘show me where warm air is leaking,’” Pohlman said of his conversations with homeowners.

Mikelsons said problems that should prompt a home energy assessment include cold or hot rooms, unusually high energy bills, a furnace that runs too much, drafts, pipes freezing, ice dams or bare spots on roofs that should be holding snow.

The auditors also are certified raters for Home Energy Score, a U.S. Department of Energy program that provides a “miles per gallon” energy efficiency score. A HES rating is a great way to market an efficient home to stand out to potential buyers or to let real estate agents and homeowners know what they can do to boost a home’s energy efficiency. New granite countertops don’t matter if families end up wrapped in blankets during cold winter months because they can’t afford to heat a leaky, poorly insulated house.

For information on a Home Energy Score or to find a local energy efficiency contractor, visit www.yvsc.org/energy. Sign up for a residential energy audit year-round at www.EnergySmartColorado.com.