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Home energy audits can help lower bills

READ MORE: Home energy audits can help lower bills
Home energy costs can cause any home owner to stress over monthly heating and cooling bills. The North Carolina Office of Economic Opportunity is helping some home owners bring those bills way down. In the past two years, Clyde Sessoms has performed more than 100 home energy audits. “I go into a lot of homes that don't have any heat in their house. You can just feel the draft coming through their homes. A lot of people that are really in need of the service. When they get the service they're just so happy because it's so much warmer and more comfortable.” As part of the state's free weatherization assistance program, he checks smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, makes sure there are no leaks in the ventilation system, and checks the safety of water tanks. “A lot of homes, whenever we get through doing what we're doing as soon as we leave you can feel the difference in the tightness,” Sessoms said. Sessoms performed a home energy audit for Kay Phelps a few months ago. She said the inspection covered her house from top to bottom. “They went into my attic and loaded all into the attic, went under the house and did the flooring.” The program is available throughout North Carolina and next year more people could qualify. Program director Brenda Thomas said she expects money from the economic stimulus package to support the program. “We would definitely be able to serve a lot more people, reach a lot more needy households and that is always our goal.” That means Sessoms could find his way into a lot more homes to help keep the drafts out. Qualification for the energy audit isn't based just on income. People with disabilities or children with health concerns are also eligible. For more information on weatherizing your home or to find out if you're eligible call the office of economic opportunity at 919-715-5850. New Hanover County Community Action North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services

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How To Reduce Your Energy Bills / Saving Energy Begins at Home

How To Reduce Your Energy Bills / Energy Conservation Begins at Home Imagine leaving a window open all winter long -- the heat loss, cold drafts and wasted energy! If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan or AC Return, a fireplace or a clothes dryer, that may be just what is occurring in your home every day. These often overlooked sources of heat loss and air leakage can cause heat to pour out and the cold outside air to rush in -- costing you higher heating bills. Air leaks are the largest source of heating and cooling loss in the home. Air leaks occur through the small cracks around doors, windows, pipes, etc. Most homeowners are well aware of the benefits caulk and weatherstripping provide to minimize heat loss and cold drafts. But what can you do about the four largest “holes” in your home -- the folding attic stair, the whole house fan or AC return, the fireplace, and the clothes dryer? Here are some tips and techniques that can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes. Attic Stairs An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add an attic stair cover. An attic stair cover provides an air seal, reducing the air leaks. Add the desired amount of insulation over the cover to restore the insulation removed from the ceiling. Whole House Fans and AC Returns An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a whole house fan cover. Installed from the attic side, the whole house fan cover is invisible. Cover the fan to reduce heating and air-conditioning loss, remove it when use of the fan is desired. Fireplaces A recent study showed that for many consumers, their heating bills may be more than $500 higher per winter due to the air leakage and wasted energy caused by fireplaces. An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a fireplace draftstopper. Available from Battic Door, a company known for their energy conservation products, a fireplace draftstopper is an inflatable pillow that seals the damper, eliminating any air leaks. The pillow is removed whenever the fireplace is used, then reinserted after. Clothes Dryer Exhaust Ducts An easy, low-cost solution to this problem is to add a dryer vent seal. This will reduce unwanted air infiltration, and keep out pests, bees and rodents as well. The vent will remain closed unless the dryer is in use. When the dryer is in use, a floating shuttle rises to allow warm air, lint and moisture to escape. If your home has a folding attic stair, a whole house fan, an AC return, a fireplace, and/or a clothes dryer, you can easily, quickly and inexpensively seal and insulate these holes. Mark D. Tyrol is a Professional Engineer specializing in cause and origin of construction defects. He developed several residential energy conservation products including an attic stair cover, an attic access door, and is the U.S. distributor of the fireplace draftstopper. To learn more visit