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Sun, Sept. 22

APS program is an energy-efficiency checkup for homes

Brett Soldwedel/The Daily Courier<br>Charles Russell, auditor with Advanced Insulation, inspects a Prescott home. One tool used to perform the inspection is this duct blaster, a calibrated fan that helps him to isolate, identify and measure leakage in the air ducts.

Brett Soldwedel/The Daily Courier<br>Charles Russell, auditor with Advanced Insulation, inspects a Prescott home. One tool used to perform the inspection is this duct blaster, a calibrated fan that helps him to isolate, identify and measure leakage in the air ducts.

This is one audit that homeowners should embrace instead of fear.

Arizona Public Service's Home Performance with Energy Star program gives people ways to make their living space more comfortable and affordable.

"We want to look at the house not as individual parts, but as a system, and that's very important when you're trying to make informed decisions on ways to improve the comfort and efficiency of your home," said Gavin Hastings, senior program coordinator with the utility.

The way it works is APS connects with contractors throughout the state that have their Building Performance Institute certifications, who audit homes to make them more energy-efficient.

That means inspecting the air conditioning system, ductwork and insulation, and a doing a blower door test to find things like air leaks that can mean higher bills.

The program also provides homeowners with installation of a low-flow showerhead, three low-flow faucet aerators, replacement of up to 10 incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient bulbs and a report outlining the inspection results.

Hastings said the audit costs homeowners $99 and, since the utility began the program in March, more than 1,500 homeowners have taken part.

About 70 contractors statewide are participating in the program, and those contractors must be licensed, bonded and insured; be in good standing with the Arizona Registrar of Contractors; and go through a mentorship program, according to Hastings, who said the utility does some quality assurance to make sure the audit meets their standards.

"It really works for a lot of people for a lot of reasons," he said. "It's much more than just an energy savings program. It's a lifestyle program."

Charles Russell is an auditor with Advanced Insulation in Prescott.

Russell said they did the program's first audit in Dewey earlier this past spring.

Since then, Russell said they've audited about 55 homes in the tri-city area.

While each home is different, Russell said the roughly three- to four-hour audits here in the community reveal homes frequently have insufficient insulation in the attic, leaks in the duct work that can mean bigger utility bills and a good amount of dust, which can cause breathing problems and can affect the longevity of the heating and air system.

"A lot of the issues that we find are very common," he said. "We consider that $99 investment from the homeowners an opportunity to see where there is room for improvement."

Once the audit is over, homeowners have the opportunity to get their repairs with the contractor that did the audit or get bids, according to Hastings, who said the utility also offers up to $1,000 in rebates for energy-efficient improvements as part of the program.

"The APS Home Performance with Energy Star program is a whole-house approach to residential energy retrofitting," he said.

For information, visit www.aps.com/checkup or call 877-850-8358.

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