BANGOR (AP) – Energy auditors are being flooded with calls as Mainers look for ways to soften the pain of soaring heating oil prices.

With heating oil closing in on $5 a gallon – roughly double the price of a year ago – many homeowners are exploring every avenue possible to make their houses more energy-efficient.

“We’ve got a couple months’ worth of work, for sure,” said Michael Bush, director of home performance at the Penquis Community Action Program, which launched an auditing service this year.

Energy auditors generally use infrared cameras and high-powered fans to detect cool spots, areas in need of insulation and places where cold air creeps in or heated air escapes. Auditors typically recommend fixes and in some cases return afterward to see how they worked.

In Maine, auditors are certified by the Maine State Housing Authority or through the national Building Performance Institute.

One place homeowners can get a bang for their buck is by looking in the attic, said Randy Bridges, who manages Penquis’ weatherization program for qualified low-income households. Before people lay down lots of insulation, they should locate and seal up leaks in the roof, joints, chimney and walls.

“A lot of homeowners right now are just blowing in insulation and they are making our job more difficult because they are covering up the air leaks,” said Bridges.

Other places worth looking at are basements, hollow walls and the framed enclosures around chimneys.

“All of these hollow spaces become ductwork…to lose heat faster,” said Richard Riegel Burbank, who runs Evergreen Home Performance in Rockland.

Experts agree that taking simple steps to make homes more energy-efficient is less costly than buying new furnaces, wood stoves or windows.

John Kerry, director of Maine’s Office of Energy Independence and Security, said it is important for people to become conservation-minded by turning down the thermostat, turning off the lights and thinking about energy usage throughout the day.

“Obviously, the best kilowatt is the kilowatt that is not (produced) and the best Btu is the Btu that is not burned,” Kerry said.



On the Web:

www.mainehousing.org/ENERGYAuditServices.aspx



Information from: Bangor Daily News, http://www.bangornews.com

AP-ES-07-05-08 1315EDT


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