Bloomington to provide free energy assessments
Thirty to 40 participants will be chosen through a lottery system and will be provided with a holistic inspection of their home’s energy efficiency on behalf of the city’s Housing and Neighborhood Development Department.
“They look at the house as a whole and try to identify some short term lower cost improvements people can make, but also give them some steps they can use to make the house efficient over time,” said Jacqui Bauer, City of Bloomington sustainability coordinator.
As a result of audits done during last year’s Beat the Meter Blitz, 55 percent of participating households completed at least one improvement, and 25 percent completed all of the improvements included in their sustainability pledge, which they are asked to sign as part of the program, according to a press release.
To be eligible, participants must live in an owner-occupied home located within Bloomington city limits, Bauer said. Assessments will be scheduled during the second and third weeks of December.
During the hour-long audit, inspectors will use a thermal camera tool and a blower door to locate areas of energy inefficiency in a home, she said.
The thermal camera tool takes an image of the structure, showing where the temperature differential is. It allows home owners to locate either cold spots on an interior wall or warm spots on an exterior wall that indicate heat leakage, Bauer said.
A device called a blower door is placed on an exterior door and uses a fan to evacuate air from the house, revealing cracks and holes in the wall that are allowing air to inefficiently leave the home, Bauer said.
The Housing and Neighborhood Development Department performs similar assessment services throughout the year for lower-income households aiming to lower energy costs. Aside from financial and environmental benefits, the assessments help households tackle concerns about health, safety and accessibility in homes.
“Residential properties use the most energy out of all the properties in town,” Bauer said.
Although large buildings and businesses might use more energy when compared to an individual home, the large quantity of residential properties in the city leave a much larger footprint on energy usage, Bauer said.
“One of the barriers for residents is finding out where they’ll get the best bang for their buck,” Bauer said.
Since home energy assessments can cost from $200 to $400, many homeowners are not willing to pay the price when they are unsure of the long term economic benefits, Bauer said.
“We decided we wanted to take away that barrier,” Bauer said.
Interested homeowners can enter in the lottery by emailing their name, phone number and address to firstname.lastname@example.org or by calling the Housing and Neighborhood Development Department at 812-349-3420. All lottery entries must be received before noon on Nov. 21.
— Samantha Schmidt