What is this Home Energy Audit from Columbia Gas Anyway?

We’ve had icing issues on our roof the past few years and I know it’s because we live in an old house that lacks the proper insulation. So a couple of months ago, I called a local insulation company to get an estimate. He asked if I had the Columbia Gas audit done yet. I told him no. He explained that it’s actually a good deal and that I should go that route first.

If you’re a Columbia Gas customer, you’ve probably received several the letters telling you about how you use way more energy than your neighbors and you should consider a home energy audit. Of course when we usually get them, they get filed with the rest of the junk mail. However, this time we decided to give them a call.

The audit itself costs $50, but Columbia Gas will help to pay for somewhere around 40% of the work that is recommended by the audit if you have it all done. That can be a significant cost savings, especially if you’re already considering having the work done anyway.

So I scheduled the appointment to have the energy audit. It took a few hours and was pretty thorough. The auditor would have installed a programmable thermostat if we didn’t have one already and new shower heads if we had a gas hot water heater, all at no additional cost. He hooked up a blower door to find air leaks in the house, and used an infrared heat camera to see where there was and wasn’t insulation in the walls.

In the end, we got a report saying what we should have done and the estimated cost, the rebates that Columbia Gas would give us including an extra $150 if we got the work done within a certain time period after the audit, and the amount of time it would take for the improvements to pay for themselves. It was then our responsibility to call the recommended contractors to come and give us quotes for the work and pick the one we wanted to go with.

So, what’s the catch? I wondered that too and asked the person doing the audit, who actually works for Conservation Services Group, not Columbia Gas. He said that Columbia Gas’s lines are essentially running close to or at capacity. They aren’t as big as they should be to service everyone. They could tear them up which would take a lot of time and a lot of money, or encourage their customers to use less and pay them to do so. You’d think the gas company would want you to use more gas, right? Maybe if they were selling you the gas, but they’re really just in the transmission business of getting it to your house and the natural gas comes from another company.

So if your house isn’t as comfortable you’d like or you’re looking for ways to possibly save money in the long-term, you may want to consider giving them a call the next time you receive one of the flyers in the mail.

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