Home Energy Audit program under way

PARKERSBURG – Representatives with the Home Energy Efficiency Project, providing energy assessments for qualifying middle income neighborhoods in the county, demonstrated some of their equipment for Wood County commissioners Monday.

The commission is collaborating with the West Virginia University at Parkersburg Energy Assessment Program to administer and partially fund energy assessments for middle income targeted neighborhoods in the county.

The commission secured grants to assist Smart Energy Solutions, which subsidizes 50 percent of the $400 cost for the assessment, so the homeowner pays $200 to have an assessment of their home’s energy.

Gary Thompson, Building Performance Instituted Certified Building Analyst, is assisting the students in completing the assessments.

“It took us about 1 1/2 years to develop this project under the leadership of Commissioner (Wayne) Dunn,” Thompson said.

“The program helps citizens with diagnostic and identification of problems areas. Seven assessments have been performed so far. They are figuring out ways to actually put money back in the homeowner’s pockets, by identifying these problems,” Dunn said.

“On a per capita basis, West Virginia has been identified as the highest home energy resource consumer of any state of the Appalachian area and that is significant. We want to bring that down to moderate levels,” Thompson said.

In addition to the diagnostics program, WVU-P public relations program students are simultaneously working on a public awareness campaign.

“We are trying to teach the public about energy consumption, energy efficiency and the role that home energy audits audits play in that area,” Thompson said.

“In the early 70s and mid-80s homeowners many times could not afford to finance energy upgrades, so these middle income properties and that age homes were initially targeted for the program, as more funding becomes available, we hope to expand that,” Thompson said. Initially North Hills, Willowbrook and portions of north Parkersburg were targeted for the program. Door hangers are being placed on potential project homes.

A visual inspection is completed on the home, the teams looks for structural, drainage problems, using thermal imaging, Thompson said. A “gas sniffer” is used to look for safety concerns.

Larry Wilmoth, with the program demonstrated a combustion air analyst tool.

“We just go around and check everywhere. There are issues like carbon monoxide and other safety concerns as well as energy issues,” Wilmoth said. They check the heating system, and do a draft analysis. The crew checks for flu gases, making sure there is proper ventilation, they check the ducts, furnaces, measure pressure, air flow.

The team then provides a completed report, provides a potential list of needs, including prices and project recommendations, materials needed for projects and has a list of contractors who can do the work. They can also do a post check to make sure the job was done properly, a spokesman said.

Thompson noted the most common energy problems in a residence are air leaks, heat loss and inadequate installation.

For more information, contact 304-210-1528, email ses@wvup.edu or look up the project on Facebook under Wood County Smart Energy Solutions.