If conservation is the lowest hanging fruit on the energy tree, picking that fruit could be taking the time to find out just how energy-efficient your home or office is. Whether you’re a renter or an owner, an energy audit can tell you if and where your building’s heating and cooling energy, and dollars are being wasted, escaping into thin air. Join us to learn how, with the reality of climate change closing in, a professional energy audit is an inexpensive way that everyone can save energy, pollution and money.
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Welcome to Good Dirt Radio, reporting on positive solutions… taking root.
If conservation is the lowest hanging fruit on the eco-tree, picking that fruit could be taking the time to find out just how energy-efficient your home or office is. Whether you’re a renter or an owner, an energy audit can tell you if and where your building’s heating and cooling energy, and dollars are being wasted, escaping into thin air. With the reality of climate change closing in, a professional energy audit is an inexpensive way that everyone can save energy, pollution and money.
Taos, NM resident Bill Brown worked as an Earth Scientist for the United States Geological Survey for 36 years. He specializes in climate change solutions, the New Energy Economy and consults with communities upgrading their energy policies. He played a major role in creating the Taos High Performance Building Ordinance, designed to create more energy efficiency. Brown describes what’s involved in an energy audit.
Brown: An energy audit is a comprehensive examination of a residence or a commercial building to determine all of its energy uses. The audit looks at electricity use for heating and cooling and for appliances electronics and lighting. It also looks at the use of natural gas, propane, wood and other fuels that are used primarily for heating and cooking. The audit examines hundreds of factors in the building that could be responsible for energy waste such as insulation and leaks for example. And in some cases, even an energy leak can be dangerous, such as an electrical short or a gas leak. The buildings in our society our homes and our commercial buildings are responsible for about 50% of our greenhouse gas emissions in the United States and that’s a big chunk that we can take care of by doing things that really don’t cost a lot of money or take a lot of time. The big three things are insulate, insulate and insulate.
Brown says that while energy audits are becoming part of building codes in many areas, consumers can quickly recoup the cost in several ways.
Brown: Increasing the energy efficiency of your home is usually and often a fairly easy thing to do with a big return. The benefits are lowering your utility bills, you can cut your energy bills in half in most homes rather easily. You can qualify for energy efficiency rebates, you can qualify for lower mortgage interest rates through an energy efficiency loan, you can reveal any maintenance issues that you have, you can reduce the demands on the amounts of coal and oil, natural gas, nuclear energy and water that are required to supply power.
A professional energy auditor uses specialized equipment to find exactly where your building is leaking costly energy in summer or winter. Taos resident Asha Stout is a hands-on supervisor for the Rocky Mountain Youth Corps who, with funding from the Corporation for National Service, helps folks upgrade their buildings.
Stout: The typical tools of the trade would be a building envelope tester, it’s called a blower door, that gets set up in an exterior door to the building and actually pressurizes or de-pressurizes the home. This measures the amount of air that leaks in or out of a building under a certain pressure and how much air leaks through these walls, around these windows, around the doors. With that test running, it’s really easy for an energy auditor to find what leaks and to assess how easy it’ll be to fix it. Reducing energy that’s wasted is a no-brainer. It supports local businesses by buying materials to make this work happen, it introduces new and cutting edge technologies to conserve our resources. It reduces pollution and it helps to reduce the need for government assistance in the low-income housing where we have been working here with Rocky Mountain Youth Corps.
Some auditors also use infrared cameras to see energy leaking out of a building. Stout says his work helps folks realize their values about energy conservation and see their personal link to climate change.
Stout: Making the connection between energy audits and climate change activism is a really exciting this for us to do. And what we work to do is to help them understand that the difference that we’re making for them in their home is also a difference for the whole world. It not only makes these clients more comfortable but it saves energy and reduces pollution in the environment.
Brown: This is going to go a long way towards helping us in fighting the climate crisis that we’re very much involved in right now. This is one of the biggest ways that we can all take part, it doesn’t take a lot of time and effort to do it, it just takes some thinking about doing the low-cost and no cost things that you can do right now to stop wasting fossil fuel energy.
Whether you rent or own your home or office, we urge you to consider an energy audit to help you save energy, money, pollution and the threat of climate change. For more information, please visit us at gooddirtradio.org.
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