This 4th of July, many more air conditioners were humming in homes across New Hampshire as residents hosted non-traditional Independence Day celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted large celebrations and much-loved firework displays. The cooling season in the Granite State is in full swing, but is your AC costing you more money due to an inefficient home that leaks that blessed cold air? Now is an ideal time to consider the energy efficiency of your home, and so Clean Energy NH spoke with our member ABC Energy Savings to learn more.
ABC Energy Savings is run by Bob Eldredge, a seasoned veteran of the industry with over 10 years of experience in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industry. He specializes in independent energy audits and consulting services in the central, southern, and seacoast regions of NH, serving customers in the Eversource, Liberty Utilities, and NH Electric Coop territories.
According to Bob, this is a great time to consider evaluating your home’s energy efficiency because the state’s NHSaves program will pay up to $8,000 (90% of the project) of cost-effective energy improvements such as weatherization, up from the usual $4,000 (50% of the project). ABC Energy Savings invoices NHSaves for the balance of the project, so the customer doesn’t have to pay the full amount up front and wait for a rebate check! Importantly, funding is first-come, first-served and is subject to change without notice. Additionally, work must be completed by November 15th, 2020.
So what exactly does an energy audit entail? Bob walked us through the process and each aspect of what you can expect:
A thorough assessment of a home to prepare a plan on how to slow down heat loss in the winter and slow down heat transferring into a home/building during summer months;
Evaluate insulation and air flow through a home/building (excess air flow accounts for about 20% of a home’s heat loss);
Conduct blower door test to measure the excess air flow rate, find sources of air leakage, and redo test after work to ensure home is not sealed too tight. If home is too tight, then recommend Heat (HRV) or Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) for automated air exchanges;
Investigate health and safety matters, like moisture issues and air flow between garages and living space. Are fire and carbon monoxide detectors installed?
Recommend changes and improvements to heating and cooling systems to improve comfort and decrease annual heating and cooling costs. i.e. cold climate mini-splits, wood or pellet stoves, upgrade to Energy Star furnaces and boilers;
Recommend ways to decrease electrical consumption, i.e. replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, minimize phantom/vampire loads, retire old freezers and refrigerators (especially the old kitchen ones moved into the basement to keep a few beverages cold;
Recommend renewable energies like solar photovoltaic
Provide a written report including recommendations, estimated costs and estimated pay- back
New Hampshire is a state with widely dispersed old housing stock, meaning almost every home can benefit from some sort of energy efficiency measure(s). According to Bob, common issues include very little or no insulation and significant excess air flow, along with wet basements, bathroom fans that lead directly to the attic, and kitchens without fans exhausting air to the outside.
Bob also shared with us the most common energy efficiency improvements that can be made to NH homes. We need look no further for the answer than the name of his company: ABC Energy Savings reveals the Attic as the first priority, Basement second, and the Center of the home is the third priority:
ATTIC – The first priority is to reduce the warm air leaving through the upper level (i.e. attic flat) that results in cold air being pulled in through the lower level to replace it. Then, upgrade insulation levels to the best possible extent to exceed the NH Energy Code.
BASEMENT – The second priority is to seal up all the cracks and gaps in the basement and crawlspaces that allow air to flow into the home. Then, at a minimum, insulate down to the grade level and then down to floor level.
CENTRAL – The third priority is to reduce air flow in the central part of the home, i.e. caulk between window/door trim and drywall, weather-strip doors, use electric outlet gaskets on outlets in exterior walls. Then, if exterior walls need insulation, insulate with dense pack cellulose or alternative cost-effective solutions.
While implementing energy efficiency measures will save money on energy costs, they can also improve overall home comfort. Bob says the key element is reducing the excess air flow through a home, which will cut out that uncomfortable cold and drafty feeling. In addition, cellulose insulation in attic or exterior walls does a great job reducing outside noises for a quieter home.
To learn more or connect with Bob at ABC Energy Savings, visit www.abcenergysavings.com, email Bob@abcenergysavings.com, or call/text 603-344-4540. To learn more about the NHSaves energy efficiency programs - visit www.nhsaves.com and to see if your home qualifies and you’d like to work with ABC Energy Savings, visit https://energyaudit.nhsaves.com/referral/85