Homeowner Tish DeValliere likes saving time by not dusting her home constantly and clearing surfaces of the black dust that comes in through the attic. She also appreciates the quiet, now that her ducts have been properly sealed, considering 70 percent of the ducts were not connected in her 50-year-old home. DeValliere and her family are members of the EnergyFit Nevada program, which helps assess and finance energy improvements to residential buildings.
“I wanted to better conserve energy,” DeValliere says. For around $200, homeowners in the EnergyFit Nevada program can get a home assessment, also often referred to as an energy audit (“Homepowered,” Aug. 9). An assessment will target specific improvements a homeowner can make to reduce wasted energy, improving heating/cooling and saving money on energy bills. Then, EnergyFit will help homeowners finance retrofits through rebates or low interest loans. Homeowners can receive $3,000 in rebates if homes meet a 15 percent energy savings. The program is organized by HomeFree Nevada, an organization that serves as the Nevada branch of Home Performance with Energy Star (HPwES), and is funded by the Nevada State Office of Energy (NSOE).
“This is a check-up for your home,” says Stacey Crowley, director of NSOE, relating the home assessment to receiving a diagnosis from a doctor. Crowley also says energy efficiency is “really an economic development driver” because it employs people trained in the construction industry who may be unemployed because of the housing market. But Crowley notes that it’s not just about money—energy efficiency also contributes to better home comfort by improving air quality and better maintaining temperatures within a home.
Bob Conrad, energy outreach coordinator for NSOE, agrees. Conrad had his home assessed earlier this year by the EnergyFit Nevada assessors, who were able to target several areas in need of improvement. After changing the can lighting in his home, which had been letting air in through the garage, Conrad says the difference “was almost instantaneous.”
“We’ve noticed an improvement with the air quality, and the house is much quieter.”
Oct. 22, 23 and 24 were proclaimed as EnergyFit Nevada days by Reno, Sparks and Washoe County. According to Denee Evans, director of HomeFree Nevada, these days are intended to bring awareness to financially feasibly options homeowners have for retrofits.
Energy experts encourage homeowners, who are considering adding renewable energy resource to the homes, to start first with an energy audit, in which an auditor will survey a home to find areas where energy is being wasted.
“It’s like putting a Band-Aid on a shotgun wound,” Conrad says. “You’re not addressing the air being let out unless you look at that first.”
During the fall and winter season, hot air generated by heaters escapes through poorly insulated windows, through vents leading to garages or attics, or other features, like skylights or screen doors. After existing problems have been dealt with, then a homeowner can invest in new appliances or energy generators like solar panels.
EnergyFit Nevada recently announced a winter rebates program to help tackle winterization projects. The organization reported that around 150 residents have made home improvements since the program’s inception last fall.