Energy Challenge workshop Saturday |

Energy Challenge workshop Saturday

Staff Reports

The 2nd Energy Challenge workshop will be 1 p.m. Saturday at the Douglas County Public Library meeting room, 1635 Library Lane, in Minden. Mike Noble will be presenting “DIY Saving Energy at Home” and demonstrating how to make a simple storm window.

“The presentation will offer do-it-yourself ideas for maximizing passive solar to warm your home, even if the house isn’t ideally situated to get a lot of direct sun through the windows,” organizers said.

Noble taught science at Lake Tahoe Community College for 25 years, solar classes at LTCC and WNC, and has had experience in building an off-grid home. Admission is free and refreshments will be provided.

Last month’s workshop was a home energy audit demonstration by Mary Winston of Energy Masters in Reno. After a thorough inspection of the attic, subfloor and a blower door test, several air leaks and weaknesses in the home’s insulation were found and detailed in a 17-page report with photos, clear explanations and suggested remedies. She also tested the gas appliances for carbon monoxide leaks and found the ovens were leaking enough to recommend having an appliance repairman adjust the flame.

“In addition, we learned about some cost saving programs that would help defray the cost of the audit and upgrades,” organizers said.

Energy Fit NV ( is a program that subsidizes the cost of a home energy audit so the homeowner pays $199, for a home under 3,000 square feet, for an audit worth $399. Home Free Nevada, at the same website, offers rebates for certain energy efficiency upgrades, and tax credits are also available.

In the case of our demonstration home, the owner simply filled out the form online at the Energy Fit NV website and was quickly contacted to confirm an appointment to have the audit done. This audit recommended sealing air leaks, installing R-19 sub-floor insulation, and upgrading attic insulation to R-49. The cost of these upgrades, if done by the contractor, would be $3,691. With a $1,000 rebate from Home Free Nevada, the cost drops to $2,691, plus a tax credit of $221 would be earned. Low interest financing is available through the Green Chips program. The return on investment (the amount of time it would take to make up the cost with energy savings) was estimated at three years for the sealing of air leaks, four years for the attic insulation, and 7 years for the sub-floor insulation. A handy person with skills could the work themselves for even less, but wouldn’t be eligible for the rebate.

But money isn’t the only thing being saved. Less fuel would be used and less pollution created. The estimate for the test house is a yearly savings of $722, at today’s prices, and almost 9,000 pounds of carbon. Multiply that by all the homes in our area and imagine what we, as a community, could do for our local economy and the well-being of the planet.

The Energy Challenge is a project of the Sustainable Living & Renewable Energy Roundup.