From resident Bruce Daggy:
As new Maryland residents and new homeowners in the Grove, we took advantage of several programs to make our home more energy efficient. Ours is a newer (2005) home, built to modern efficiency standards; these programs are likely to identify more improvement opportunities for those with older homes.
Quick Home Energy Checkup: The Quick Home Energy Checkup Program is is a no-cost service through Pepco. An energy analyst spent about an hour in the home, inspecting the heating and cooling systems (HVAC), windows, doors, etc., looking for ways to improve efficiency. In our case, the main benefit of this program was 14 free LED light bulbs and a smart power strip to reduce phantom power losses when electronic equipment is switched off but not fully powered down. This checkup could also identify opportunities to improve insulation and weather stripping, upgrade appliances, or reduce water use (heating water being a significant energy cost).
Home Performance with Energy Star Program: Also offered through Pepco, the Home Performance with Energy Star Program is a more comprehensive energy audit, costing the homeowner $100. Testing included checking the tightness of the house (with a fan sucking air out through the front door frame), the leakiness of the ductwork, and thermal imaging of the walls. And once again we received 14 LED bulbs and a smart strip; we also received a written report. In our case, little was identified other than the lighting that offered a good financial return. But when it’s time to replace the HVAC system, we now have data we need (e.g., the conditioned volume and the blower door air leakage test) to choose the right unit. Believe it or not, we needed still more LED bulbs, and took advantage of the instant rebates offered at multiple local stores.
The next steps, now that we have a better sense of how much electricity we are likely to use, are to sign up for clean energy, and to find out if rooftop solar is possible on our home. Our former home in California was close to net zero after we made efficiency improvements and installed solar. We have a long way to go to achieve that here!
A few suggestions if you choose to use these programs… Have the consultant install the bulbs before they leave. Some of the bulbs that we received were not the right fit. If you are interested in water saving shower heads or aerators, you may need to ask for them; neither were offered by the energy consultants, despite being on the list. And finally, be aware that companies participate in these programs in the hope that you will hire them for identified upgrades. Therefore, the recommendations you receive should be viewed with that in mind.