Focusing on Savings With Focus on Energy

whatever kind of dwelling you have, Focus on Energy can save you energy and money

Barbara Arnold

 

DOORWAY TO SAVINGS. A blower door test during a home energy audit. (Photo by EE
DOORWAY TO SAVINGS. A blower door test during a home energy audit. (Photo by EE Image Database | CC BY-NC 2.0)

 

Wondering how to save energy and money on your utility bill? Whether you’re a renter, homeowner, landlord, business owner, farmer, or more, your first stop should be the Focus on Energy and ENERGY STAR® programs. 

Now in its 21st year, Focus on Energy is Wisconsin’s energy efficiency and renewable resource program. It is funded by Wisconsin’s investor-owned energy utilities as required by state law, and participating municipal and electric cooperative utilities, 107 utilities in all. Its website provides customized solutions  for homeowners, renters, landlords, commercial and industrial building owners, schools, government facilities, farms, wastewater operations, and new construction.

Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® is a national collaborative program between the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Since 2001, this program is the trusted source that helps contractors and energy programs deliver home energy upgrades. There also are thousands of ENERGY STAR® energy efficient appliances listed at EnergyStar.gov.

Residential Focus on Energy options include a free Simple Energy Kit, where you can choose one of six packs: Lighting, Décor Lighting, Kitchen Lighting, Baths, Showers, or Electronics; or a Smart Thermostat Incentive; or Whole Home Improvements, which involves a Home Energy Assessment, also known as a Home Energy Audit.

“The only way to know how your home is performing is with a blower test,” said David Geissler of On Site Performance Testing. “It measures the tightness of a building. In our profession, we say ‘build them tight and ventilate them right.’ ”  

According to Nat Peplinski, northern regional manager for Focus on Energy, the Home Energy Audit consists of a walk-through of the entire home assessing the insulation levels, and identifying safety and health issues, such as asbestos, carbon monoxide, and mold. The energy assessor conducts a blower door test that measures a home’s air leakage and a combustion safety inspection. A Home Energy Audit helps pinpoint where the home is losing energy so improvements for greater comfort and savings can be prioritized. Upgrades such as air sealing and insulation and HVAC replacement can save 15% or more on your utility bills while increasing home comfort, safety, durability, and resale value. Focus on Energy also offers cash incentives for qualified improvements. The process takes two to four hours depending on the complexity of the home. For example, a 1960s single story ranch home takes less time than an 1886 three-story Victorian home. The average cost is between $300 and $600.

Peplinski oversees the Building Performance Institute (BPI) trained Trade Ally contractors. These are energy experts who understand every aspect of home performance and how the many components from the number of occupants to local climate, age of the home, size and layout, all interact.

One of the 10 trade allies in the Chippewa Valley is On Site Performance Testing, in Chippewa Falls. The firm was founded by David and Barbara Geissler as an energy consulting firm for existing and new home construction/certification with more than 40 years building experience. They aim to make homes more energy efficient via data-supported testing, which not only includes a blower door test, but also infrared scanning, combustion safety checks, and ventilation system checks. The blower door depressurizes the home, and with the infrared camera, air leakage and lack of insulation can be detected.

There are several reasons a home owner may request an audit, according to David Geissler. “High energy bills, moisture issues, comfort issues, ice damming, or if a homeowner is going to re-roof or re-insulate or remodel the home,” he said.

“The only way to know how your home is performing is with a blower test,” he said. “It measures the tightness of a building. In our profession, we say ‘build them tight and ventilate them right.’ ”  

His most unique audit was done on three new homes, less than two years old, because of comfort issues, and he discovered the attics were uninsulated. His most bizarre audit was for moisture issues in a home, not from roof leakage or condensation, but from bat feces and urine.

To start your audit, call Focus on Energy at (800) 762-7077 or visit www.focusonenergy.com

Chippewa Valley Home & Garden is sponsored by:

Down to Earth Garden Center & Shops
6025 Arndt Lane,
Eau Claire

Down to Earth Garden Center
Down to Earth Garden Center

Chippewa Valley Home & Garden is sponsored by:

Down to Earth Garden Center & Shops
6025 Arndt Lane,
Eau Claire

Down to Earth Garden Center
Down to Earth Garden Center