Lincoln County residents have an opportunity to save money with a free or low cost home energy audit.
Energy audits evaluate a homeâ€™s air leaks, insulation, and the heating/air conditioning unit. Professional auditors then make recommendations on what the residents should do to make their home more energy efficient. Recommendations can include anything from adding insulation, caulking house holes, using a programmable thermostat, servicing the furnace, or changing personal energy use habits to reduce energy use and save money.
There are two programs for Lincoln County residents:
First, the U.S. Department of Energy offers its weatherization program for low income families, the elderly, and disabled. Most families save around $300 a year after professionals conduct an energy audit and then the professionals install insulation, seal house holes, modify or replace heating units, and make minor safety repairs.
For the weatherization program, renters and home owners qualify; houses and mobile homes qualify. Families and individuals qualify according to income. For example, a family of four making $30,000 a year would typically qualify for weatherization. Families and individuals receiving SSI or AFDC automatically qualify. To see if you qualify for the Department of Energyâ€™s weatherization help in Lincoln County, call I-CARE at (704) 748-6444. They are located in the United Way offices in downtown Lincolnton.
The second opportunity is through â€œE-Conservation â€“ The Power to Control What You Spend,â€ an ongoing project of NC Cooperative Extension and NC State University. The Extension office is pleased to offer energy audits to qualified home owners in Lincoln County. Professional energy auditors will conduct a three to four hour inspection of your home including a blower door test to check for house holes and energy leaks. Auditors will provide homeowners with a written evaluation and recommendations on ways to improve the homeâ€™s energy efficiency. Then, the homeowners will be responsible for acting on those recommendations, making energy efficient changes in their home and habits. A $500 value, these audits will cost homeowners $100 through this special program; there are a limited number of audits available. Extension will be scheduling the audits for April.
To participate in the Extension project, the home must be no larger than 2,000 square feet; have only one heating/air conditioning system; be 5-years-old or older; and be in Lincoln County.
Next, the homeowners must attend an energy conservation workshop through NC Cooperative Extension Service. The next classes will be in Denver and in Lincolnton on March 26 and 27. There are day and evening classes available, and reservations are required. Deadline to register is Thursday. Call (704) 736-8461 or email: Leigh_Guth@ncsu.edu
Next, homeowners provide a year of utility bills (available through your utility company). They must agree to be present at the home during the four hour audit, pay the auditor $100 and to participate in surveys with me after the energy audit.
by Special to the LTN