Oregon homeowners can take advantage of energy audits

Having a home-energy audit can help you figure out exactly where you are wasting energy and losing money in your house. During an audit, a professional will spend several hours going over your home, testing it for leaks and checking the insulation. The auditor can suggest ways to make your house more energy efficient.

Oregon customers heating their homes with electricity or natural gas provided by Portland General Electric, Pacific Power, NW Natural or Cascade Natural Gas are eligible to receive a home-energy review, through the Energy Trust of Oregon (www.energytrust.org).

The city of Ashland offers free home-energy audits for residents who heat with electricity. The city's energy analyst will come to your home and do an inspection to determine what can be done to improve its efficiency and provide a list of recommended measures and potential incentives.

The city also will do a free home-leakage test for electrically heated homes ($50 for those with nonelectric heat). The test will show where air is leaking out of the house and the energy analyst will provide a list of locations of the leaks and suggestions on how to repair them.

Ashland also offers a free duct-system analysis for homeowners with electric heat ($100 for homeowners with nonelectric heat). If your home has a central-heating system, a duct-leakage test can determine whether the ducts need to be sealed or replaced. Financial incentives may be available to help defray the cost of duct sealing or replacement.

If you decide to have your home analyzed by an energy contractor, here are a few tips from the U.S. Department of Energy's Web site (www.energysavers.gov), which also has other good information on staying warm and saving money.

To prepare for the energy audit:

  • Check references in advance, just as you would with any contractor.
  • Make a list of existing problems, such as drafty rooms or condensation on windows.
  • Have available copies of your energy bills from the past year.
  • Talk to your family about their energy issues and questions so you can use the opportunity to speak to an expert about solutions.

Inside: Tax credits for 'green' improvements. Page 2C

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