assessment

Your Story: Homeowner navigates the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program

Your Story: Homeowner navigates the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program
Interested in lowering your home’s energy bill?  Take advantage of your utilities’ Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program.  If you are new to this program, view our recent blog on the steps to apply. Read Julia Kalloz story below for an in-depth look at the program. 

 

The cover of your Energy Audit Report



Homeowner Julia Kalloz walked us through her experience with Home Performance with ENERGY STAR.

Julia lives in a Pepco service territory so she began the process by finding a contractor from the PEPCO website of specially trained, Building Performance Institute-certified contractors.

“You are able to see what certifications and experience they have and that was important to me,” Kalloz said. “It allowed me to vet several auditors and even find out what other people experienced.”

The audit cost $100 (a saving of $300) and, Kalloz said, it is easy to schedule. It took about an hour, but appointments can take a little more or less time, depending on the size of the house (most last between 2- 4 hours).

During the visit, simple and free incentives to help homeowners start saving energy immediately are provided.  The incentives include LED bulbs, water heater pipe wraps, showerheads and showerhead adapters, as well as faucet aerators and power strips.

The contractor also looked at ways to reduce air leakage from Kalloz’s home by evaluating her large appliances, conducting a blower door test to evaluate air loss and a combustion test to see how efficiently the heating system was operating.

Ten days later, Kalloz received a Prioritized List of Measurements – or a PLOM (a report detailing the improvements needed to cut home energy usage and what the potential savings could be) – that had been generated from the audit. Some of the contractor’s recommendations might not be in a homeowner’s budget, but the potential for long-term savings as well as the up to $7,500 PEPCO offers in rebates offer important incentives.

 

Getting Home Improvement Rebates

Estimated Annual Energy Savings



Once you decide which solutions are the most feasible for your home and your budget, the contractor will have you sign a proposal for the improvements and the PLOM before reserving the rebates on your behalf. Once the rebate reservation is approved, homeowners have 60 days to complete whichever improvements they choose.

For Kalloz, improvements included air sealing and insulation in the attic and basement.

After the work was  done, part two of the audit – called a Test Out – is done to determine the final energy savings and rebate. When Kalloz’ auditor did hers, a post air sealing test was done which showed less air leakage from the home.

Next, the contractor submits the application to PEPCO within 30 days of the installation and the homeowner’s rebate check arrives six to eight weeks later.

“I recommend doing the things that are affordable first,” Kalloz, who was able to get about 50% of what she spent on improvements back via the rebates, said. “Do what makes financial sense for you. Even if they are not big dollar improvements, they still make a difference and they are important.”

Even after waiting a few months once her audit was done to begin the improvement process, she said the air sealing and installation installed made a drastic difference in the drafts – and her PEPCO bill went down, too.


Written by Kimberly Hodges and Felicia Hodges

From energy audit to energy savings

From energy audit to energy savings
Who doesn’t dread the day the energy bill arrives?

For homeowners, the arrival of the energy bill can send blood pressure through the roof, especially if they own an older home or are on a limited income.

Thankfully, the state’s EmPOWER Maryland program helps homeowners reduce electricity consumption and save money with the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program.

As a homeowner, it is quite easy to participate in the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Program:

Step 1: Call your utility supplier.

Contact Pepco, BGE or Potomac Edison, and schedule the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR Audit. The cost is the same regardless of your utility at only $100 (a $400 value).  Some utilities may let  you choose your contractor.

 

Step 2: Go through the Home Energy Assessment

A certified contractor will visit your home and perform a Home Energy Assessment. They will walk through your home with diagnostic equipment to perform a comprehensive home energy audit and determine how improvements throughout your home can work together to maximize energy efficiency and savings. Some of these tests may include:
  • A blower door test that uses the combination of pressure and airflow measurements to determine your home’s air leakage, which contributes to higher energy costs.
  • Thermographic camera tests that use infrared images to assess the effectiveness of your home’s insulation, which directly affects your home’s comfort and energy efficiency performance.
  • Combustion and safety testing to detect carbon monoxide and natural gas leaks.
  • Verification of adequate ventilation, which is critical to reducing indoor air pollutants, moisture and odors in your home. Without proper ventilation, some household contaminants can cause health problems, while excess moisture can lead to mold growth and physical damage to your home.


 

Step 3: Receive recommended energy-savings improvements

After the audit, a home energy expert will provide you with a comprehensive report with a Prioritized List of Measures to help you determine the best improvements for your home.  It will also provide a list of available rebates.

The expert will help you identify energy efficiency improvements that may qualify you for 75 percent of the costs — or up to $7,500** — to cover energy-saving home improvements, including air sealing, duct sealing, insulation
 and HVAC equipment upgrades.

 

Step 4: Schedule the work with a participating contractor and start seeing energy and cost savings.

“I have recommended [the program] to many people because people don’t realize how much energy they are losing – especially in older homes,” Murray said. “[The contractors] walk you through what will make your home more efficient and how you can save in the long run.”

 

Seeing Results

For Kathleen Murray of Silver Spring, starting the process was mainly about making her drafty house more comfortable.

“All the houses in [my] community are mostly older and big and…we all say we are freezing to death,” she said. “So I decided to have the audit to see what changes I could make to better the heat situation in my home.”

Even after waiting a few months once her audit was done to begin the improvement process, she said the air sealing and installation installed made a drastic difference in the drafts – and her PEPCO bill went down, too.

“I have recommended [the program] to many people because people don’t realize how much energy they are losing – especially in older homes,” Murray said. “[The contractors] walk you through what will make your home more efficient and how you can save in the long run.”

  For a more detailed story on a resident’s experience with the Home Performance with ENERGY STAR program, read this blog.


Sections of this article written by Kimberly Hodges and Felicia Hodges