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2016-08-17 / Featured / Front Page / Real Estate

Air Police: Father-daughter team conducts energy audits of homes

By Rich Griset
STAFF WRITER


Scott Waggoner and his 11-year-old daughter conduct energy audits for homeowners, which includes thermal imaging, to help customers save money on their energy bills 
Adobe Stock Scott Waggoner and his 11-year-old daughter conduct energy audits for homeowners, which includes thermal imaging, to help customers save money on their energy bills Adobe Stock Wanting to give back to the community and teach his daughter self-sufficiency, Scott Waggoner had an idea: He’d create a company that offers free energy assessments of people’s homes to see how they can save money.

Three years later, the father-daughter company Chesterfield & Midlothian Energy Auditors is still at it, averaging at least two audits per week. Through a series of tests, Waggoner and his 11-year-old daughter, Natalie, can show where homes are losing heated or cooled air.

The audits are paid for by Dominion Virginia Power and can save homeowners hundreds in the long run.

“The entire process is meant to help people lower their electric bills,” says Waggoner, who lives in Woodlake. “Most problems can be solved with $5 of spray foam, if you know where to put it.”

The process normally begins when a homeowner contacts Dominion because they want to reduce their bill. Dominion guides them to its website, which lists contractors who do home visits. If Waggoner and his daughter are contacted, they visit and run a series of tests for air leaks in the home’s foundations and ducts, install energy-efficient lighting, seal doors that are loose and apply weather stripping.

They also inspect attics, change air filters and conduct what’s called a “blower door test,” where a powerful fan lowers the air pressure inside a home. As air rushes into a home, the auditors walk around the home and find leaks that need to be fixed. They also use thermal imaging to see where energy is escaping.

“We don’t sell anything,” Waggoner says. “We do the audit, we make recommendations, and if people need help with the recommendations, I’ll try to steer them to people I know in the business.”

After the Waggoners have finished, the homeowner fills out a form for Dominion, and Dominion pays the Waggoners. The Waggoners also offer homeowners the chance to donate $25 to a handful of local charities.

Dominion offers five rebate programs to help its customers boost the energy efficiency of their homes. The Waggoners present two of them – the Dominion

Home Energy Check-up and the Dominion Duct Sealing Program. The utility company also offers programs to help pay for heat pump tune-ups, heat pump upgrades and home improvements for those who qualify by income and age.

Dominion launched the programs in 2012 to respond to the fact that no one was conducting energy audits of homes in Virginia beforehand. To date, 138,759 Dominion customers have taken advantage of the home energy checkup, duct sealing, heat pump tune-up and heat pump upgrade programs.

“On average, for every $5 you use to warm or cool your home, one dollar is lost in your crawlspace or attic,” says J.P. Rainey, an energy conservation analyst who heads up Dominion’s conservation programs.

Rainey says some of the top ways they help customers save on energy bills include changing incandescent lights to Compact Fluorescent Lights, insulating hot water pipes, installing aerators on sinks and showers, and adjusting hot water heaters down by a few degrees. He also recommends replacing power strips with advanced smart strips that reduce the amount of energy used when electronic devices are idle. To learn more about the programs, go to dom.com.

“I hope more people will do these programs,” Waggoner says. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

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