Local energy efficiency company saving customers thousands on oil (March 31, 2012)

As Maine comes through another bruising home heating season, homeowners worried by skyrocketing oil prices are taking action.

More than 3,200 Maine homeowners have upgraded their weatherization since January 2010, according to EfficiencyMaine. As a result, Mainers burned nearly 1.3 million fewer gallons of heating oil than the prior year — for a savings of more than $4 million statewide, or an average savings of $1,250 per retrofit.

Because Maine has some of the nation’s oldest housing, and is No. 1 in dependence on heating oil which continues to hover near $4 per gallon, those results have sparked a stampede for home energy audits.

“Requests for our audits have increased every year we’ve been in business,” said Bo Jespersen, president of The Breathable Home, a leading home-energy consultant.

Jespersen said he often waives or reduces fees for audits – which typically cost $200 to $500 – when customers choose from a variety of upgrade options that include replacing old boilers, doors and windows and tightening up drafty spaces with next-generation insulation. Clients who sign up for audits get a list of money-saving recommendations and can implement some or all of them, depending on goals and budget.

“No budget is too small to reduce oil bills in a meaningful way,” Jespersen said.

Jespersen’s auditors use a “blower door” to pull air out of the house and measure how fast it is replaced; infrared cameras that pinpoint air leakages and measure the effectiveness of insulation; software to link the data to a client’s budget plan; and combustion tests that measure the efficiency of heating equipment and prevent toxic fumes from being drawn into the house.

The last step: rigorous testing to ensure the work was effective and the house is safe.

Depending on the current state of the home, “I tell my clients you could save $400 to $1,000 or more per year, with payback periods of less than seven years, depending on the needs,” Jespersen said. “That payback period gets shorter every time the price of oil goes up.”

Spring is nigh, but next heating season is only months away. “You may be done with this heating season,” Jespersen said, “but in Maine, heating season is never done with us. Now is the time to get a jump on next year.”

To schedule a flexible-fee audit, call The Breathable Home at 512-2408. For more information, visit us at www.thebreathablehome.com or http://www.yelp.com/biz/the-breathable-home-manchester, and follow us on Twitter @BreathableHome.

This story appeared in the Community Advertiser, a free weekly circular.

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