The Virginia Tech Cooperative Extension Service and the Virginia Office of Emergency and Energy Services are offering Virginia homeowners a free computerized home energy analysis, which they say could save up to thousands of dollars on heating bills.
"Some people could save thousands of dollars over a few years by spending a few hundred, and the annual savings in Virginia could amount to millions if enough people followed the computer's recommendations," said Samuel P. Bowen, who is an assistant professor of physics at Virginia Tech and assistant director of the Virginia Center for Coal and Energy Research.
By filling out a four-page questionnaire, a homeowner can receive a free computer printout that tells how much it would cost to weatherproof various parts of the house and how much money each weatherproofing job would save in a year. Homeowners can receive the questionnaire by calling Fairfax County's Energy Hotline at 273-8095.
The two-page computer printout lists the approximate annual heating cost with no improvements to the house. It also shows the amount of energy lost through specific parts of the house, such as walls, floors, ceilings, windows and doors. For air-conditioned homes, the printout tells where heat is gained during the summer and gives an estimate of how much the owner will pay for heat loss if the home has an unimproved fireplace.
The analusis also includes a table of weatherproofing options that range from the best to poorest investments. The table estimates the cost of the improvements and the savings likely in the first year after they are made.