Weatherizing Your Brookside Home–With a Free Energy Audit

We Brooksiders love our neighborhood, but dislike our non-energy efficient homes.  I’ve read so many articles on how making just a few changes in your older house can make a big difference.  This year I helped energy-conscious Matt and his wife buy a home just off Gregory.  Matt is in the process of an energy audit, and we thought it would be good to write about his experience in the blog. The best thing about this energy audit is  there are two programs that essentially pay for upgrades to weatherize the house!

Matt’s home recently went through  a free energy analysis  with Jon  of Community Energy Heating and Cooling.  (sometimes links don’t work via this blog, irritating!  The site is www.communityehc.com) This process took a few hours and was conducted on a Sunday morning.  Part of this audit resembles a home inspection:  Jon first did a walk around of the exterior of the home, looking for grading at the foundation and leak points.  He measured all  rooms, and then creates a ‘footprint’ of the house using special software so he knows how much cubic square feet he’s working with.  This helps determine the return on investment for the suggested improvements.  Inside the house, John looks for safety issues and pointed out various places where heating/cooling can escape (through the floor joists, attic space, vents, fireplace, etc).  He also did a blower test of the entire house, which pinpoints where the air is leaking out of the structure.  In Matt’s home, the primary air leakage is in the basement on the east wall. Also, his daughter’s room has too large of a return with the vent going into the attic.  A new attic hatch will also keep warm (and cool) air inside the main part of the house.

Currently there are two sources of funding for the energy audit programs available to KCMO residents.  Kansas City Power and Light along with Missouri Gas Energy sponsor the Home Performance with Energy Star program.  This plan will pay $400 for the audit, up to $500 for insulation and up to $400 for air sealant and window upgrade incentives.  The homeowner doesn’t receive cash–the money comes in the form of credit on your gas and electric bills. 

The other fund is handled by EnergyWorks KC. This is a city funded program which expires March 31 next year.  Once the homeowner can verify a 15% drop in energy usage, s/he receives up to $1000 in cash; and another $1000 if there is a 30% energy use savings.  Matt plans to take advantage of both programs. 

The next step in the process for Matt is to wait for the written energy analysis.  After reviewing the document and suggested improvements, he will have one year to make some energy saving improvements to be eligible for credits through the Home Performance with Energy Star program.  Since the EnergyWorks KC program ends in March, he has less time to prove increased energy efficiency for a cash reimbursement. Part Two of this blog will outline the suggested improvements from the audit, what improvements were made and how the energy savings will be measured.  I’m also scheduling an audit of my own home so I can report first hand about the experience.

It may sound unusual to read about essentially ‘free money’ to upgrade your home, but it’s out there.  Some research and paperwork is involved, but it’s well worth the time to save money on your heating and cooling bills..especially since KCP&L is asking for a rate hike!

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