LESLIE: Mike in Missouri has a house that’s over 100 years old and is spending a ton of money on heating. Tell us about it.
MIKE: Well, I tell you what. I have a house that was built in 1895. That’s the best I could do; they think it’s actually a little bit older. But my house is brick (ph), two-story, about 3,500 square feet. I have three furnaces and three air conditioners that I use to cool and heat the house. And I mean what we do – you know, we put plastic over the windows; we put draft things underneath the doors. And our heating bills, especially, and cooling bills, in the peak seasons are just outrageous. And I’m thinking about adding some more insulation up in the attic but I don’t know what else I can do to – I mean I feel like I’m putting the utility company’s kids through college, you know, with what I’m paying. (Leslie chuckles)
TOM: Yeah, yeah, I hear you.
MIKE: So …
TOM: Well, I tell you what. And the problem is here, Mike, you’re doing the same thing that so many people do in this country and that is they guess at what they think the energy-efficient improvement is that they need. There’s a way not to guess and it’s called a home energy audit. And in your situation, it would be very wise for you to invest a little bit of money in this.
Now there may even be some TARP money out there to help pay for this because I know that in our state, the homeowner pays about 100 bucks and the state pays another $300 to the auditor to get this whole thing done. It’s a pretty comprehensive process; involves checking not only insulation and doors and windows and things like that but even doing what’s called a blower door test, which can check how drafty your house is.
What you need is a comprehensive assessment so that you know what are the biggest, weakest links, in terms of energy-efficiency, in your house. And then you can direct your dollars to attack the biggest one first and work down the list that way.
MIKE: That sounds about the right way of what I need to – what steps I need to take to get this resolved.
TOM: You know, a home energy audit can actually help make you a much smarter investor in the energy-efficient upgrades of your house because it’s very sophisticated. It can even predict return on investment so that you’ll know if you spend $500 in insulation, how long it’s going to take to make that money back. So that’s where I would start. I’d contact the utility company to begin with, see if they have a home energy audit program and, if not, hire a private home energy auditor that’s not too expensive and you’re going to get a very comprehensive report that’s going to tell you what you need to do to make your home more energy efficient and save yourself some money and be more comfortable at the same time.
MIKE: That sounds great. That’s exactly what I’m going to do. I’ll call them tomorrow.
TOM: Alright, Mike. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.
LESLIE: Mm-hmm. And tell those utility guys that their kids need to get a scholarship.
TOM: (chuckles) Good point.