What’s the Best Way to “Energy Diet?”

Posted by Cindy Frantz
Cindy Frantz
Cindy Frantz is the Co-Chair of the Energy Planning Committee of the Oberlin Pro
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on March 8, 2012 in Energy Matters

So, you are a homeowner and you want to save energy.  You know that it’s the right thing to do, and it will save you money, but the hard part is deciding what to do.  What will give the most savings and comfort for the least hassle?

The most important step you can take to preserve your planet and your paycheck is to make investments in weatherization, insulation, and heating and cooling systems as soon as possible. These will pay dividends for as long as you live in your home, without any further effort on your part. (If you’re a renter, stay tuned.  I’ll have ideas for you in my next column.)

I know these investments sound expensive and complicated, and therefore it becomes easy to put it off. But each day it doesn’t happen, you lose money and let our environment become a little more polluted.  In fact, making your home more efficient is not as complicated as it may sound.

For example, just look at the impact of insulating your house. The Ohio Department of Development reports that, on average, homes heated with natural gas cut their initial consumption by 25% after weatherization. You could clip coupons or fret about paper vs. plastic for several lifetimes before achieving the same impact of this one-time basic efficiency measure.  And, it couldn’t be any cheaper or easier to get done right now.

Oberlin’s local gas company, Columbia Gas of Ohio, is offering a Home Energy Audit program that makes it incredibly easy for you to get this stuff done and begin reaping the rewards. Columbia Gas sends an expert to give your house a sophisticated check-up. It’s worth $500, but you will be charged only $50 ($20 for income-eligible customers), which you get back in rebate when you make one of the suggested improvements. You also get a free high-performance, energy-efficient showerhead, and a programmable thermostat (if it is appropriate for your home). You even get big rebates on the actual work done on your house. Not only do you get future benefits, but you’ll save money upfront.

My neighbor signed up for the Columbia Gas program, and loved it.  She told me, “We got $3,000 worth of work done for about $800, and the system was all set up, so it wasn’t hard.”

City Manager Eric Norenberg has also used the program.  He described his experience like this:

“After reading about the Columbia Gas Home Performance Solutions program in the newspaper, my utility bill, and a door hanger, I finally called to schedule my appointment.  The program was so popular I had to wait several weeks for an audit. Once scheduled, a local professional inspected the home and gave us a written “prescription” for several insulation and weatherization improvements and a list of Columbia Gas-approved contractors.  A couple weeks later we met with a local contractor to discuss and schedule the work.  The work began within two weeks.  After instant rebates, the rebate on the inspection fee and other incentives, we only paid $283 for $1,100 worth of insulation and weatherization work for our home.  The process was very easy:  Nearly all of the documentation and forms were processed automatically, so I didn’t have to fill out complicated rebate forms.  And, our home was warmer afterwards!"

Are you thinking, Yeah I’ll get to that some time soon? Will you really? Call 1-877-644-6674 or visit http://www.columbiagasohio.com/en/your-home/YourEnergySolutions/home-performance-solutions.aspx to get started today. They’re taking reservations now!

And not only will you save money, but when you make your home more energy efficient you are putting community members back to work.  The economic downturn has hit the construction industry hard and you can use Columbia Gas’s program to help keep these workers employed.

Let’s review:  Cooler house in summer, warmer house in winter, lower utility bills, amazing rebates available NOW, local jobs, cleaner air…. What are you waiting for?

How do you Energy Diet?  Share your thoughts and tips below.

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Cindy Frantz is the Co-Chair of the Energy Planning Committee of the Oberlin Project. She is the Chair of the Board of Directors of Providing Oberlin With Efficiency Responsibly (POWER) and Associate Professor of Psychology at Oberlin College.


Amanda Woodrum March 20, 2012

Given the volatility of the stock market and rising energy prices, I have chosen to invest in an energy upgrade for my home in order to make it more energy efficient. I feel really good about my decision every time i look at my utility bills. I should get my rebate check soon, and I'm thinking about using that money to purchase a new energy star fridge. yay!

Susan Morse March 20, 2012

Excellent suggestions, Cindy. I think homeowners should absolutely take advantage of the offer for an energy audit from Columbia Gas. Some homeowners will be surprised to learn where their houses are inefficient, and what improvements could make a big difference.

Cindy Frantz March 20, 2012

Good idea, Amanda. Given the amount of interest most investments are earning these days, using your rebate check to invest in efficiency is likely to give you a MUCH higher rate of return.

Sharon Pearson March 22, 2012

My fiance and I scheduled an appointment with Columbia Gas. We were placed on a waiting list. However, the trick is be persistent and ask to set up an appointment and they will. They pointed out all the leaks and told us about some electrical upgrades we need to make at our house prior to the insulation. We have yet to follow through to complete the insulation but I encourage EVERYONE to participate in this program as soon as possible.

danielvhenny November 16, 2015

Nice tips to save energy at your home.Thanks for posting.

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