My power company says I’ll save 20+% on my power bill if I add insulation?

This entry is part 1 of 3 in the series Don't Fix what ain't broke...

In the first of Don’t Fix What Ain’t Broke Series I picked this situation as many home owners have asked me this already.

So you called the power company and complained about the bill.   They sent out a young professional to Assess your home.   At the end, he told you that your insulation needs reinforcement.   I will post another blog about the merits of asking your power company for advice on buying less from them.  Don’t worry.  I did it too.

This situation does not have to come from your power company though.  It could come from your AC/ Heating technician because a lot of them have gotten into the insulation business to earn extra revenue.   The argument goes like this.   You need a certain depth of insulation to achieve your R value by code.   They visually inspect and determine that you are not at the required depth.  That makes sense so far.

Then they recommend that you reinforce your existing insulation with XYZ insulation.  STOP!  What is the impact of you not being at their recommended R Value?  It sounds credible but the truth is that this may have no impact or marginal impact on your bill and comfort.

How do you get to the truth?   Pay for an independent Energy Audit by a BPI Certified Professional.   Why?  While you may not be at the recommended level based on a cursory visual check it may be irrelevant.   A BPI Certified professional is trained to assess and measure the Envelope of your home.    As an example, they will measure whether or not you are leaking.  If you are leaking they will help identify where you are leaking.   In truth, they may recommend that you just need Canned Lights for your recessed lights.  In this situation, adding more insulation may actual hinder not help.

But how likely is it that the auditor will just confirm the first guy’s recommendation?   Let’s say the auditor does confirm the need for more insulation.  You now qualify for a rebate based on the results of the audit.   Most utility companies will only pay rebates if you establish a before and after measurement from certified auditors.  Get professional advice and qualify for the rebate at the same time!

Beware of the sales man who offers an Energy Audit but then promises to roll the cost of the audit into whatever you purchase from him later.   I am very suspicious of these promotions.   Audits are conducted by specially trained professionals who spend a lot of money on their equipment.   Rolling the cost of a valuable audit sounds more like a sales promotion than a true assessment of the home.   There is additional value in an independent audit as there is no obligation or expectation of additional purchases.   In situations where there are potential purchases be very suspicious of the report you get.   Bottom line: There is no reason to doubt an Independent Audit.

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