Energy audits offer utility relief for Chicago homes

Energy audits offer utility relief for Chicago homes

Howard Clauser learned of the Energy Impact Illinois plan during a neighborhood meeting. A representative from the program and one from highly rated energy auditor Smart Sealed of Chicago informed residents about the federally funded rebate for qualified insulation and resealing work.

“My house is somewhat drafty in the winter, and the new windows I installed a few years ago didn’t resolve the problem,” Clauser says. So he hired Smart Sealed to audit and weatherize his 1898 Edgewater home, and received the program’s maximum rebate, $1,750, for the $4,400 job. He calls the work a success: “On cold days since then, my house has not been as drafty.”

Highly rated energy auditors, such as John Porterfield, owner of A-rated eZing in Oak Park, say many Chicago homeowners don’t know how beneficial weatherization projects can be.

“We know from careful studies that many homeowners incorrectly believe that their home is just fine,” Porterfield says. “With that belief, they’re not really inclined to participate in an energy efficiency program, even with a rebate.”

He praises the Energy Impact Illinois program, but laments so few people know about it. “They’re putting money in people’s pockets — you’re immediately seeing a big decrease in energy bills,” he says.

Batavia member Patrick McVay says he saw great results even without a rebate after hiring highly rated Intelligent Energy Solutions in Elgin to audit and upgrade his home. “Thanks to their HVAC, window and insulation improvements, we’re only using half the energy we did before,” McVay says.

Anthony Stonis, owner of A-rated Building Energy Experts in Crystal Lake, says few homeowners know how much heat their homes lose in winter. “When carpenters built most of the housing stock in Chicago, they left gaps as they cut holes for the electrical pipe,” says Stonis, adding that improper air sealing and insulating cause problems. Stonis says sealing projects cost about $2,500, with $1,750 covered by the Energy Impact rebate, and homeowners can save about $500 a year on heating and cooling costs.

ComEd electric and Nicor gas offer homeowners who receive services from both a rebate of up to 70 percent when installing qualified upgrades. West Town member Bettina Chang used the program last year, receiving a $1,250 rebate on a $4,200 insulation and resealing project from Smart Sealed. “I can put the air-sealing information on my real estate listing when it comes time to sell,” Chang says.

7 ways to save on energy bills

  • Windows. Caulk annually to make airtight or replace with more efficient windows.
  • Air ducts. Seal gaps or holes in air ducts to prevent heated or conditioned air from escaping in non-living spaces.
  • Doors. Check sealing 
annually so cold air can’t enter.
  • Insulation. Measure your insulation 
to make sure it’s enough and distributed evenly throughout the attic.
  • Recessed lights. Cover or insulate them to prevent air leakage into the attic.
  • Fireplace. Cover or seal if not using to keep air from escaping.
  • Furnace. Service unit in spring and fall or replace with more efficient unit.

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