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Get an Energy Audit -- I Did!

By Peggy Bruton

In mid-February, my husband and I had an energy audit for our house by a guy with Puget Sound Energy. We signed up because our power usage seemed to be increasing too much, more than we could attribute just to the unusually cold weather.

Now let me explain why this option appealed to us. Yes, we wanted to do something about the high energy bills, since we're retired folks on a fixed income, more or less. But we're not financially stressed, and the big reason, really, is that we want to shrink our carbon footprint any way we can.

We're hardly newcomers to the struggle against global climate change.

My history in this regard goes back to a time long before terms like climate change, global warming, and even (remember this one?) greenhouse effect had yet entered popular parlance. It was 1964, and my then-husband and I had recently returned from Peace Corps service and bought an old house in Takoma (sic.) Park, MD, where we thought we'd raise our two children in relative peace. But no. The ink was scarcely dry when a WaPo headline trumpeted the news that an 8-lane freeway would soon slice through our neighborhood, the better to speed commuters to their Federal government jobs in Washington D.C.

Not so fast, we said, along with most of our neighbors.

We rolled up our sleeves and stopped the freeway in its tracks (though it soon resurfaced in another corridor, several lanes wider) and discovered -- guess what? -- that new freeways were hugely destructive of the environment and only breed more traffic. I gave up driving, knowing I didn't want to be part of the problem, and came to enjoy the twice-weekly hike to the grocery store with my toddlers in the double stroller. We knew there'd be a massive change in lyfestyles across the nation as soon as the word got out on this, Less auto commuting, a turning away from sprawl.

Yeah, right.

So this struggle has been a big part of my adult life. I've been in and out, by turns, of the activist scene, depending on my level of combat fatigue .

It's not that I've become less angry or less committed over the years. But I've grown very appreciative of anything we can do that can make a real difference; even small things, like making our house more energy efficient. And hence the energy audit. 

Our auditor was here about 3 hours (that's standard for this $90 service) and did an excellent job. He found some problems that were not only wasting energy but were potential health hazards, like an air duct from the furnace that had come uncoupled and was causing insulation fibers to be blown out into the house. It was easy to fix, but we never would have found it ourselves. 

He was very thorough. He offered to replace any incandescent lights with compact fluorescents, but since we already had the latter all over the house, he replaced only those for which he had a better compact option. But the difference is quite noticeable: Way better light, no more energy output (and maybe less).

I want to recommend this service very highly. Admittedly, it;s not a decisive step toward curbing global climate change; in fact, he described it as going for the "low hanging fruit." It's a good program that deserves to be supported and expanded. And it provides green jobs! These inspectors might otherwise be out building sprawlly subdivisions or other doing such unsavory stuff.

To sign up for an energy advisor visit, call 1-800 562 1482.

Peggy Bruton, 360 866-7165 gimleteye@comcast.net