Dominion East Ohio affords complete dwelling power audits

A worker blows cellulose insulation into an attic

Cleveland Heights homeowners Cynthia and Christopher Trotta have been unwittingly heating the attic of their 86-year-old home for a decade.

It took an energy audit of the Dominion East Ohio gas company to locate a long-forgotten “car chase” in the corner of a basement ceiling.

The chase is just a slide that goes from the basement to the attic.

Electricians trying to rewire an old house will enjoy a chase as it will make rewiring the second floor a lot easier.

Fire departments abhor them because car chases make it easy for a fire to jump into the attic and roof. Or random warm air of any kind.

When a team of Good Cents energy auditors hired by Dominion conducted the first air infiltration pressure test at the Trotta’s house, they were surprised.

“They said the house had about three times the airflow it should have been,” said Cynthia Trotta. “Even our fireplace wasn’t that big of a problem.”

A check of the usual suspects – air leaks on windows and doors as well as on the “rocker panel” between the top of the basement wall and the frame house – was not responsible for the enormous leak.

“They discovered a chase in the corner of the basement,” she said, adding that no one had ever spoken of their existence.

Sealing the chase is easy and inexpensive.

“Without this test, we might have done the windows or attic insulation first,” said Trotta. “Now we have a game plan.”

The audit found that closing the chase and other much smaller air leaks throughout the family home would save the family $ 418 a year at current gas prices – more than the $ 301 a new stove would save in heating bills.

“It’s a breeze to start the air sealing,” said Trotta.

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The cost of the audit? Only $ 50.

As of April 11, the program’s auditors have conducted 103 audits, said Katie Schade, a technical resource manager for Good Cents.

So far, 34 homeowners have done work, mostly insulation and airtighting, as well as some new stoves, she said.

The pressure test is performed by closing all windows and doors in a house except for an outside door. This door is sealed but contains a powerful fan or blower that pushes the air out of the house.

This “fan door test” pulls air into the house through cracks or crevices – where a technician walking around the house can measure it.

Typically, audits can take four hours or more. The two-family residence of the Trottas lasted 8 hours.

The audit includes infrared photos to track down the energy leaks that have not occurred.

It is up to the homeowner to respond to the auditors’ recommendations.

If you do nothing, your audit report cost will be $ 50. A free carbon monoxide detector is included with the audit, or you can choose to have your $ 50 fee refunded if you install any of the enhancements recommended by the audit.

However, if you want to get your job done and take advantage of Dominion’s discounts, you’ll need to use a contractor who is Good Cents certified.

The company audited 30 heating and air conditioning companies and 22 contractors approved for insulation and airtighting work.

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