Whoa mama!

This Mother’s Day, I’m not going to jump on the bandwagon of eco-friendly products. By all means, please (as always) consider the environmental impact of your gifts or check out these great gift ideas from Huffington Post, Treehugger, and Grist. But if I have to read another blog post about how flowers are destroying the planet, I’ll just get depressed.

Instead, I’m going to make a plug for the most eco-savvy gift of all: the home energy audit.

According to an online survey conducted in February by Harris Interactive, only 11% of Americans conduct home energy evaluations or audits. That’s disappointingly low when on a yearly basis, Americans spend $241 billion (yup, with a B) on residential energy costs, resulting in 1.2 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions. Conducting a home energy audit can help identify problems, determine efficiencies, lower carbon footprints, and best of all, save loads of money.

Depending on your need and desire, audits can be a walk-through by your local utility, an online assessment of your home, or a more intensive audit. Being the TerraPass’ resident mom-turned-energy-czar, I recently decided to get an energy audit for my home in New Jersey. It didn’t take much arm twisting. According to the state of New Jersey:

>Under the Home Performance with Energy Star Program, a home energy audit can help pinpoint energy-saving home improvements that could result in rebates of $1,000 to $4,000 based on projects with total energy savings of 10 percent to 25 percent or more.
Under the Home Performance with Energy Star Program, a home energy audit can help pinpoint energy-saving home improvements that could result in rebates of $1,000 to $4,000 based on projects with total energy savings of 10 percent to 25 percent or more.

I decided to start with the online audit while I waited for my appointment. I was surprised to find that many local utilities conduct free in-home energy audits or have online tools to compile your own. Through PSE&G’s online tool, I learned that by converting my outdated heating system to a more energy efficient one, I could save $1,469 per year in heating costs and 5,673 pounds of CO2. Creating an airtight environment could save $634 per year and dropping the thermostat just 2 degrees would give me back $284.

The best part about it is that many rebate programs are available to help cover the costs of these upgrades (though they are not always available through the utility).

What better gift could there be for moms of the world than giving her some more spending cash?

Some helpful resources from the DOE and EPA for home energy audits include: Energy Star, Home Energy Score, Energy Savers, and the Home Energy Saver™.

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nancy

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