A reader: Recently, a man came to my front door. He wanted me to let him do an energy audit on my house. I’m retired and live alone, so I am very careful about even answering the door to someone I don’t know, let alone letting them in. After he left, I wondered if I should have done the audit. My utility bill is quite high. Is an audit a good idea?
Action Line: Energy efficiency is always a good idea. A home energy audit is the first step to find out how much energy your home uses so that you can then evaluate what you can do to make your home more efficient. While I absolutely do not recommend that you let strangers into your home, you could have asked for information from your visitor such as his name and the name, address and phone number of the company he was representing.
You could then have advised him that you check all solicitations with BBB before you do business. If he checked out, you could call to set an appointment with him. You could then check out the company at bbb.org or by calling your local BBB, 800-675-8118.
BBB also recommends that you shop around and get comparative bids. Fees will vary from one company to the next. Make sure that you are comparing apples to apples.
In the meantime, here are some tips to help you conserve energy:
▪ Turn your thermostat down to 68 degrees. The California Energy Commission tells us that for every degree you turn your thermostat down between the 60-70 degree range, you will save up to 5% on heating costs. Turn it down to 55 degrees at night.
▪ Don’t forget to replace your furnace filters regularly. If they are dirty, the air flow will be restricted and energy use increases.
▪ Hot water heaters can be set to the normal setting. Be sure to check your owner’s manual to make sure they recommend the normal setting as well. Don’t forget the dishwasher. Use the economy or power-saver setting if you can. Again, check your owner’s manual.
▪ Air leaks in your home through your outer doors and windows waste energy. Seal those leaks and make sure your home is well insulated. Doing this can also make your home feel more comfortable.
If possible, consider replacing your old appliances with new ones. Look for the Energy Star label. You can find helpful information at http://www.energystar.gov/.
You should also check with your utility company. It may have rebate or incentive programs that would help you out.
Always check on a company before you do business with them. Go to bbb.org.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.