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

Small Business Kilowatt Smackdown!

Small Business Kilowatt Smackdown!
Through November 18th, the City of Takoma Park is offering a student competition open to all local college and university students in and around Montgomery County.  The students who complete the most energy assessments for businesses in Takoma Park can win weekly green prizes, internship opportunities, and a grand prize scholarship.  Download the Kilowatt Smackdown Flyer.  

What is the Kilowatt Smackdown?

With the support of the City of Takoma Park, the Green Impact Campaign (GIC) and Nextility, two DC-based energy organizations, are coordinating a community initiative to help Takoma Park small businesses save money on energy while reducing their environmental impact. The effort — Kilowatt Smackdown — will include a community-wide competition between student groups from local universities and colleges to complete free energy assessments for Takoma Park-based businesses from October 3 to November 18. The outcome will be custom, actionable plans to save money and energy for each business. Over the remainder of the year, Kilowatt Smackdown partners will help small businesses with resources to complete these low- to no-cost recommendations, aid businesses in choosing a lower-cost, green energy supplier, and determine if their buildings are suitable for free solar energy systems. Businesses will also be connected to state and local rebate programs, and to the Montgomery County Green Business Certification program for further assistance and help for deeper energy savings. Green Impact Campaign and Nextility will train students to conduct energy assessments using their various assessment tools. Kilowatt Smackdown Logo  

Student Prizes

The top three students that complete the most energy assessments during the competition period will be awarded the following scholarships, presented by the City of Takoma Park:
  • 1st place – $3,000
  • 2nd place – $1,500
  • 3rd place – $500
  Top performing students will be given the opportunity for an informational interview or paid internship at the following organizations:
  • City of Takoma Park – Sustainability Programs (2-paid winter internship positions)
  • Nextility (informational interview)
  • AtSite (informational interview)
  • Community Power Network (informational interview)
  Throughout the competition, students will be able to win small and large weekly “PowerUp Prizes” provided by sponsoring local businesses, which may include:
  • Gift cards to local restaurants
  • “Green” resume writing workshop presented by 20 Minute Resume
  • Tickets to sporting and music events
  • And more!
  To participate as a student competitor, or to sign your Takoma Park small business up for the free energy assessment and help a local student, go to or contact Takoma Park City Sustainability Manager Gina Mathias at