Mary Edsey of Energy Impact Illinois demonstrates a “blower door,” which depressurizes a home and simulates a 50-mile-per-hour outside wind, allowing her to detect drafts and heat-leaks inside. She was performing a home energy audit in 2013 for Energy Impact Illinois on a 103-year-old home in Evanston. Fifteen to 35 percent of air that has been heated or cooled leaks out of a home.RoundTable photo

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Citizens’ Greener Evanston (CGE) is partnering with Elevate Energy, a Chicago-based nonprofit specializing in energy efficiency programs, to help Evanston homeowners make energy efficiency improvements to their homes. Weatherizing a home can save hundreds of dollars per year on utility bills, eliminate drafts to make the home more comfortable and help reduce Evanston’s carbon footprint.

Here’s how the program works:
• The first step is a thorough home energy assessment, complete with a blower door test.  The assessment, valued at $200-$400, will cost $99 to individual homeowners. The assessment is free to any homeowner who hosts a house party where friends and neighbors can learn about this weatherization program from an Elevate Energy representative.

• The assessment is performed by a contractor with Building Performance Institute accreditation and vetted by Elevate.  A few days after the assessment, the contractor provides a report detailing the most cost-effective steps to save energy and noting any rebates available. The homeowner is under no obligation to go ahead with any of the recommendations.

• The next step is for the contractor to carry out the improvements commissioned by the homeowner.  At the end of the process, a second blower-door test will be performed to see what energy savings have actually been achieved. If the home achieves 15% or more in energy savings – which is almost always the case – the home will qualify for an Illinois Home Performance with Energey Star certificate.   There is evidence that homes with EnergyStar ratings sell more quickly and closer to the homeowner-asking price than unrated homes.

 • During this process, Elevate Energy acts as the homeowner’s advocate with the contractor, sorts out any concerns, and ensures that all goes well with the retrofit process. Elevate will also secure the rebates available for the improvements and submit the materials required for the Energy Star certificate.  

•Neither CGE nor Elevate receives any remuneration or fees from this program.  Both nonprofits say they are committed to reducing carbon emissions and making homes more energy efficient. CGE also has energy-saving programs for churches, nonprofit organizations and businesses. More information is available by contacting Leslie Shad at buildings@greenerevanston.org.