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Oct. 6, 2022

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Energy Adviser: Weatherize your home for more comfort

The Columbian
Published:

Does your home heat up quickly on an average summer day? Maybe you’ve noticed your heating system running constantly in the winter?
If that’s the case, then your home could likely benefit from a weatherization upgrade.

“Weatherization is a term that includes several approaches to improving the home’s envelope, which enables it to hold a consistent temperature longer,” said Clark Public Utilities Energy Services Supervisor DuWayne Dunham. “Many of these projects are among the most cost-effective energy saving investments a person can make in their home.”

Big ticket items like heat pumps, furnaces and triple-pane windows will lower the energy bill, but they’ll perform even better in a house that’s tightly sealed and well-insulated.

Since it’s summer, think of your air conditioning like ice and your home like a cooler. You buy the ice to keep the stuff inside cold. You’ll need to add ice more often if you use a decades-old cooler with a broken lid than if you use a cooler in good shape.

Half of a typical household utility budget is spent on heating and cooling. Homes built before 1990 often spend even more because they were built before higher energy efficiency standards were added to the state building code.

As products of their times, older homes have less insulation and more air leaks than their modern counterparts. So their owners stand to benefit most from weatherization measures.

Air leaks never stop; they only get worse as the temperature swings. Fortunately, they can be fixed with minimal time and investment. Caulk is ideal for sealing gaps around fixtures inside and outside the home and around windows. Light switches and electrical outlets can be sealed with insulation gaskets. Exterior doors will seal tightly with new thresholds and weatherstripping. An insulated exterior door will help keep the temperature right where you like it.

Many weatherization projects can be done by a handy person. Those living in electrically heated homes and interested in hiring out the work may qualify for significant weatherization incentives from Clark Public Utilities.

Insulation is one of the most-cost effective improvements you can make. Utility customers may qualify for a rebate of 40 cents, 50 cents and $1.20 per square foot on attic, floor and wall insulation, respectively. That’s between 10 percent and 20 percent off a job.

Window replacement incentives of $6 per square foot for double-pane windows and $8 per square foot for triple-pane windows are also available.

Leaky air ducts can lose a lot of conditioned air. Clark Public Utilities offers a $200 incentive to have them sealed up.

The utility offers many incentives, but some qualifications must be met. In addition to having electric heat, all the weatherization work must be performed by a contractor participating in the utility’s contractor network. The network isn’t an endorsement, warranty or guarantee. It’s a list of contractors the utility verifies to maintain all necessary licenses, bonds, insurance and professional certifications, and meet the utility’s high customer service standards.

If you need advice about lowering your electric bills, a Clark Public Utilities Energy Counselor may be able to help. Call them at 360-992-3355 during business hours. They can discuss utility incentives and suggest potential cost-effective solutions that will make your home more comfortable and affordable.


Energy Adviser is written by Clark Public Utilities. Send questions to ecod@clarkpud.com or to Energy Adviser, c/o Clark Public Utilities, P.O. Box 8900, Vancouver, WA 98668.

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