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Thursday, January 22, 2009

The District Department of the Environment offers a free energy audit program for owners of single-family homes in Washington, regardless of income. The comprehensive audits take a couple of hours to complete. For more information, visit http://www.ddoe.dc.gov or call 202-673-6700.

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Manassas-based Novec offers an audit service to customers who inquire about their high energy bills. An initial audit is done over the phone, comparing a current bill with past ones. If this phone call doesn't provide any clues about excess energy consumption, a Novec expert will do a free, basic walk-through of your home. If you're looking for a more elaborate assessment, Novec refers customers to local energy auditors. For more information, visit http://www.novec.com or call 888-335-0500.

SERVICES FOR LOW-INCOME RESIDENTS

The U.S. Department of Energy encourages states to offer the Weatherization Assistance Program. It usually entails a comprehensive, basement-to-attic energy audit to discover what improvements are necessary for weatherization. It's geared toward financially needy homeowners and renters and is free. However, the number of homes that can be weatherized depends on the budget allotted to the program, which can vary by state. For Maryland, visit http://www.dhcd.state.md.us or call 800-756-0119; for Virginia, visit http://www.dhcd.virginia.gov or call 804-371-7000; for the District, visit http://www.ddoe.dc.gov or call 202-535-2600.

OTHER RESOURCES

To find certified energy auditors, the U.S. Department of Energy recommends the Residential Energy Services Network's Certified Rater Director (http://www.natresnet.org/directory/raters.aspx). RESNET is a nationwide professional organization that created the national standard for building energy efficiency rating systems. Listings include only certified raters who are members of RESNET. For more information, visit the Web site or call 760-806-3448.

Maryland Home Performance (http://www.mdhomeperformance.org ) is sponsored by the Maryland Energy Administration. It has an overview of common repairs to make homes more energy efficient, financing information for such improvements and a directory of local contractors who can conduct energy audits and weatherize homes. Contractors listed on the site are certified and trained by the Maryland Energy Administration. For more information, visit the Web site or call 240-223-5544.

Online DIY audits can tell you how much energy your own house uses compared with others in your neighborhood. Visit http://www.energystar.gov or http://www.pepco.com.

Kathleen Hom


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