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Ameren CILCO Now Offers a $25 Energy Audit

May 26, 2009

Like most utility companies across the United States, Ameren CILCO is now offering a $25 energy audit for its customers to show them how to save money on their utility bills by making the home more energy efficient.  They will make an appointment with a certified energy auditor to inspect your home and give you recommendations on steps you can take to lower your energy usage.  Any reduction of energy usage serves the dual purpose of lowing your monthly bills and reducing your overall impact on global warming.  When looking at the transition of the U.S. economy from one dominated by fossil fuels to one powered by renewable energy such as wind and solar, making homes and buildings energy efficient will be a critical transition point to reduce the overall load necessary to power cities.

There are many different types of energy audits available around the United States.  Some are very comprehensive and will involve expensive equipment like a blower door test or a thermal imaging camera and can cost around $200 to $300.  The audit Ameren is offering does not involve this sophisticated equipment, but will nevertheless be useful in helping you develop a plan to curb your energy usage.  The auditor will examine different systems in the home including:

  • Heating and Air Conditioning
  • Insulation in the attic, walls, or floors
  • Efficiency of appliances like refrigerators and washers

One of the bonuses of signing up for this $25 audit is that you may easily make that money back during the visit if the auditor installs any of the products offered.  Depending on eligibility, they may install the following products:

  • Up to 5 compact fluorescent light bulbs in high traffic areas
  • A faucet aerator to help conserve water
  • Pipe insulation on the hot water pipes from the water heater
  • Water conserving shower heads

Call Ameren at 866-838-6918 to schedule an appointment.

Read on for a review of an Ameren audit performed on a Peoria home in March of 2009.

In March, I had an energy audit performed on my home through Ameren’s ActOnEnergy program.  I felt that the audit was very useful in helping me focus in on the most important areas that will bring me the best efficiency as well as point out some of the low hanging fruit that I can do with almost no cost involved.  However, I still like I might benefit from a more sophisticated energy audit using a blower door test and a thermal imaging camera to detect air leaks in the home and to look for flaws in the insulation.  So, this audit was a nice introduction to making my home as energy efficient as possible, and a full audit might be an effective follow up.

I have listed some of the recommended changes as a result of the walkthrough of with my energy inspector.  I found that the notes I took during the audit were more thorough than the general recommendations made on the report I received in the mail after it was complete.

Notes:

  • Windows: I thought it was interesting to note that once the attic is sealed and insulated properly, it generally isn’t cost effective to replace all of the windows unless you are selling the house. He explained that the air doesn’t really have anywhere to go vertically.
  • Clothes washer: I’m not sure it was part of his report, but he did recommend the next clothes washer we buy be a front loading one as they save a lot of water in the wash cycle and saves energy from the dryer as the spin cycle does a much better job of getting rid of water. He even mentioned that the night before he took his work shirt out of the washer and hung it to be worn the next day.
  • HVAC: We talked extensively about the furnace and ductwork and he recommended sealing the ducts with mastic or metal tape as well as sealing the gap on the outer wall where the air conditioner enters the house.
  • Dryer Exhaust: My collapsible dry exhaust tube is far too long and is wrapped like a snake along the floor.  I asked him about replacing it with a metal one, and he gave me basic instructions of where to do and how to install it.
  • Box Sills: We discussed insulating the box sills in the basement. I could use(1) icynene which is best be messiest, (2) use friction-fit foam insulation, or (3) simply caulk inside the sill. If I use the foam boards, he recommended caulking around the foam once they are installed.
  • Air Conditioner: We looked that air conditioner. He recommended a cleaning of the unit. The pipes going from the unit into the house need new insulation as the old is pealing off and the hole in the brick of the house needs spray foam.
  • Attic Insulation: He did a flashlight inspection inside the attic. I was surprised that I my attic insulation was better than I thought. However, he pointed out that in areas where someone may have done work, the insulation was just pushed aside and not restored. I need vent chutes, he gave me instructions on how to do it myself if I chose.
  • Attic Insulation: The insulation doesn’t look like extended to the top of the walls. He recommended spray foaming around the lights and pipes before finishing up the insulation. Another 2-3 inches of blown insulation might help.
  • Bathroom Exhaust: The bathroom exhaust fan is venting directly into the attic instead of our the roof or through the soffit.
  • Wall Insulation: I don’t have any wall insulation. We talked about options such as putting holes in the walls and blowing it in to dampering rooms that get more heat to rooms that don’t. In fact, he was thinking about this issue AFTER he left the audit and called me to discuss it further on his way home. That sort of “customer service” impressed me. In the end, my options for to help the bedrooms maintain heat are (1) adding wall insulation, (2) adjusting the damper in other rooms, (3) getting the top of the walls insulated, (4) insulating the attic hatch (which has none), and (5) taping the seams in the ducts.
  • Window Caulking: I showed him my efforts to caulk my first window before the winter and asked for his honest assessment. He was very nice about the fact that I could have caulked 2 or 3 windows with the amount I had used on just that one. (I thought as much). Diplomatic and constructive.

Pros and cons

Here are the pros:
— I had a lot of questions and Mr. Whittaker did an excellent job of listening to each with interest and thoughtful responses. He could have rushed through his answers or dismissed me – but didn’t. Major points there. Calling me after he left to continue the discussion was a major plus here.

— He kept the options open on how potential repairs could be taken care of. He recommended getting multiple quotes for insulation work and also gave me some basic instructions on how to make some repairs myself.

—  It’s cheap!  Simply having someone at the house who knew what they were talking about was worth it to me.  If I make even one or two changes, the savings will pay for the price of this audit tenfold.

Here are the cons:
— This wasn’t a full audit with a thermal camera and blower door test. But, we knew that going in. I have wondered if the recommended fixes would have  been the same regardless of the use of the equipment. I won’t know until I decide to pay for a more comprehensive audit.

— It didn’t occur to me until the next day, but he didn’t look at weatherstripping of the doors which need to be addressed.

— He didn’t do a window inspection. If he had, he would have pointed out weather stripping sticking up on one window and condensation inside the bathroom window.

— We didn’t talk about the impact on air quality of the home when its sealed correctly and what impacts there might be from different kinds of insulation.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 5, 2009 7:38 AM

    Nice article…Thanks Green Earl

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