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I spy wasted energy


PrintHome energy audits can help detect air leaks and other issues

If you don’t like people nosing around your house, don’t invite Greg Jourdan in. He opens closet doors, lets the water run in the bathroom sink, feels around your windows, switches lights on and off and even points a gun, albeit an energy-friendly “thermal gun.”

Photo of home energy audit - Greg Jourdan and John Eder

Greg Jourdan shows homeowner John Eder how a thermal imaging camera finds cold spots in his home.

It’s all for a good cause. Greg Jourdan, an energy consultant and Wenatchee Valley College instructor, navigates through local homes upon request to sleuth out wasted energy. He starts by using diagnostic equipment, including a gun-shaped thermal imaging camera, to identify places where energy is being lost. He supplements his investigation with a big blower fan that he sets up in an exterior entry door to create a large negative air vacuum in the home, to find the air leaks. Then he does a complete walk-through, looking at a home’s insulation, windows, ductwork, heating and cooling, lighting, electronics and appliances. To finish, he issues a report that includes recommendations on how homeowners can make improvements.

John and Linda Eder welcomed Jourdan into their home earlier this month. The Sunnyslope couple won Chelan PUD’s drawing for a free home energy audit at the KPQ Home and Garden Show this spring.

Although it’s 26 years old, their home rated high on Jourdan’s scale of efficiency. The Eders have upgraded to vinyl-framed windows and have adequate insulation. They’ve replaced the incandescent bulbs in their recessed fixtures with LEDs, taking advantage of Chelan PUD’s rebates. They use a heat pump for heating and cooling, and just had it serviced.

Photo of Greg Jourdan with blower door

This fabric door and fan create negative pressure in the house to help measure air leaks.

The Eders use more electricity than might be expected because they heat and cool John’s workshop, bringing their total conditioned space to 3,600 square foot. But on a watts-per-square-foot basis, their energy use is relatively low.

Jourdan did make some general recommendations which apply to most homes, including:

• Set the thermostat  for cooling as high as possible while maintaining reasonable comfort levels while home. Set it to 84 degrees when away from home, or install a programmable thermostat to do that automatically.

• Conversely, place thermostat settings for heating as low as possible while maintaining reasonable comfort levels. Set it to 60 degrees when away, or install a programmable thermostat. (Note: If you have a heat pump, make sure you install a “smart” thermostat that will warm the house back up gradually and minimize the use of inefficient strip heat.)

• Replace air filters every two to three months or as needed to keep the indoor unit coil clean.

• Reduce the temperature setting on the water heater to 120 degrees or less.

• Install low-flow showerheads in bathrooms.

• Wash clothes in cold water whenever possible.

• Minimize use of spare refrigerators and freezers. If not needed, consider recycling through Chelan PUD’s free recycling and rebate program.

You can perform your own energy audit by following this checklist. Learn about professional home energy audits here. Jourdan can be reached at gjourdan@msn.com.

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