Written by Denise Ryan
I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but getting a home energy audit has been on my to-do list for at least three years. So what got me moving? What got me to face the “inconvenient truth” that my house leaks like a sieve.
The answer: guilt, a growing concern about global warming, and my public policy co-worker, Patrice Frey.
Patrice leads the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Sustainability Initiative, which recently launched the Preservation Green Lab in Seattle to preserve (sustainably, of course) older and historic buildings. Now, it probably won’t surprise you that we do “talk shop” at work. Thanks to these water cooler conversations, it wasn’t long until I was sufficiently inspired to, as Mahatma Gandhi would say, “be the change [I] wish to see in the world.”
As a first step, I visited Angie’s List, an independent website that provides hundreds (maybe thousands) of reviews for service companies in D.C. and beyond. I’ve had great experiences with them looking for everything from plumbers to pet sitters, so I logged on and searched for an energy audit company. And that’s how I found Pascale Maslin with Energy Efficiency Experts, an expert/entrepreneur who conducts all of the audits herself. Much to my surprise, we were able to schedule an audit just one week later. No chance to backslide now; we were moving ahead.
Now for some background on my house. Built in 1956 and located in Cheverly, Maryland, it’s a detached, three-level Cape Cod with three bedrooms, two baths and a full basement. In addition to some high bills, I’ve got very little attic insulation, original windows, an old furnace, an old air conditioner, and an odd temperature discrepancy between the main floor and the upper level. I’ve done some starter improvements here and there (installed a programmable thermostat, replaced light bulbs, put a blanket around my hot water heater, etc.), but I knew that nothing would compare to the expertise of a professional home energy audit.
On audit day, the first thing Pascale did was conduct a blower door test, which sucks all of the air out of the house so that drafts, holes and cracks are easier to detect. She built a custom frame around my front door and inserted a shockingly powerful fan through an elasticized hole. Once she flipped the switch, we (very systematically) walked the entire house checking for air coming through any and everything. Among other things, we found a leak in my fireplace’s flue vent and a good size hole around the pipe under my kitchen sink. Oh, and the door to the basement was a veritable wind tunnel! What was that about?
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