Midcoast Green

Midcoast Green Collaborative > Home > Articles > Alpha House

Alpha House

Paul Kando

Since 2006, Midcoast Green Collaborative (MGC) conducted hundreds of independent energy audits, each one a mutual learning experience. The audit reports recommended actions to improve the energy efficiency of the house. Those actions were well worth taking if they cost less than 7 times the projected annual savings, based on the fuel price at the time of the audit, even if funds for them had to be borrowed.

Air sealing around a vent pipe in an attic
photo credit: Efficiency Vermont

After an independent energy audit there is no sales pressure and the home owner is free to follow or ignore the audit report’s recommendations. He/she can decide to spend or not spend part of what heating oil costs on permanent improvements instead. The right choice has been paying off spectacularly for some of our Midcoast Maine neighbors. In these columns I plan to explore several examples. To protect homeowner privacy, I only identify each house by a Greek letter, without revealing visual features or location.

Alpha house has two occupants and a heated floor area of 2820 square feet. At the time of the audit, the house was fairly leaky, with almost half a natural air change per hour. It burned 1300 gallons of oil annually for heating, at a cost of $5,187. The 5,522 kWh of electricity the house also consumed cost $848, for a total energy bill of $6,035 per year. The energy audit report projected 42% potential first year energy savings ($2,060), provided the following recommendations were followed:

Had they chosen not to act, the owners of Alpha house would have spent more than $32,380 on heating alone since the audit. In contrast, an investment of $9,500 to implement the audit’s recommendations saved them $13,601 over the past 7 years -- a net savings after expenses of $4,101. Looking ahead, compared to having done nothing, these home owners can look forward to saving at least $2,000 off their annual heating bill, year after year.