By Lisa Nicolaison
Have you heard about PSE&G’s Quick Home Energy Check-Ups (QHEC)? With winter on its way, I decided to schedule a free check-up for my home and learn more about the program. PSE&G’s website lists the following as QHEC program benefits:
PSE&G offers several home energy assessments including their Home Weatherization Program for income-qualified customers which includes up to $6,000 in energy efficiency upgrades at no cost; such as air sealing, insulation, water heater system replacement, and smart thermostat installations. It’s also important to note that Spanish-speaking energy efficiency professionals are available upon request, as well as safe home assessments for those who are immunocompromised.
Here’s how it went:
Dave, my certified energy efficiency professional, arrived promptly at the scheduled time. After I provided some basic information about my home, Dave began the assessment which included reviewing:
Because my home uses oil heat, Dave was not able to measure the water pressure or heat or provide free low-flow shower heads. Homes that use gas heat would be provided this service. Despite having oil heat, Dave shared information about how low-flow efficient showerheads reduce the amount of water used, and also save on hot water and gas.
Throughout the assessment, Dave answered my questions and provided me with additional information about services offered through PSE&G. For example, the appliance recycling program which homeowners can use to recycle refrigerators. Dave shared that there is a special $100 Fall Haul-Away offer from now through November 30, 2022, for PSE&G residential electric service customers. PSE&G also offers several Energy Star appliance rebates for everything from washers and dryers to heat pumps. The whole assessment took less than an hour, including switching out 20 light bulbs!
My customized assessment:
Our front door had a very visible air leakage that could be fixed with weather stripping and a door sweep. If you can feel cold air coming through your doors (or windows) then you most likely have air leakage.
Despite having a smaller attic opening, Dave suggested that we add 8-10” foam board to provide insulation and weather stripping to create an air seal.
Dave told me that attic access is one of the largest producers of energy loss and insulating the attic opening is the biggest way most homeowners can prevent heat transfer. Without proper insulation in the attic floor, you will find that rooms in the upper levels of a home will become colder quicker, making for a long, uncomfortable winter. With an insulated attic floor, the temperatures in the house’s upper levels are heated evenly, and much less warmth is lost through the attic. Homes with larger attic openings should be aware of this and may want to consider covers.
Our home has a lot of large windows, which can let in cold air in the winter and warm air in the summer. Thermal curtains can help keep cold air from leaking through air leaks around your windows in winter. They help trap cold air drafts behind multiple layers of fabric to keep it from moving around the room. Thermal curtains can reduce heat loss by up to 25% in the winter and reduce solar gain by 33% in the summer.
PSE&G also provides up to 20 free LED light bulbs. Dave explained that it’s better to replace lightbulbs with LEDS than to run them until they’re done. This can provide a significant energy savings with 60 watt v 9 watt bulbs- saving 50 watt of energy.
So what happens next?
After the audit, I received a report in my email with a summary of what we discussed. Here’s a snapshot of what my report looks like:
I’m planning to tackle the front door, attic and windows so stay tuned for a before and after update!
I absolutely recommend this free service. If you have any questions about my experience, feel free to contact me. Learn more about the Quick Home Energy Check-Up program on PSE&G’s website. Let us know if you try this free service!
Sustainable Princeton is a non-partisan, non-profit organization in Princeton, NJ with a mission to inspire our community to develop and implement solutions that positively impact our environment. It’s our vision that Princeton be a model town that examines every action through the lens of sustainability ensuring a healthy environment, a strong economy, and the wellbeing of all community members now and in the future.
© 2023 Sustainable Princeton. All rights reserved.