In-home audit saves money and promotes green
Burbank Water and Power offers a free inspection of a home's efficiency. There is no catch, manager says.
Burbank Water and Power's Green Home House Call specialist, Stan Mueller, right, goes through a resident's home as he gives tips and helps Lola Gandara with conservation efforts. Mueller makes sure the proper temperature is set in the freezer. The California Municipal Utilities Association (CMUA) recently awarded Burbank with the energy sufficiency award. (Cheryl A. Guerrero/Staff Photographer)
Gandara, who has lived in her Burbank home for the past nine years, received a Green Home House call from Burbank Water and Power on Friday as part of an effort to conserve energy and save money.
“It’s really a conscious effort to do both,” Gandara said. “As you mature, you think more about what you could be doing to make a difference.”
She had already replaced her home’s toilets with those that use less water, and took advantage of state and local rebates to purchase a more efficient refrigerator.
She spent two hours with a the technician who provided a free efficiency audit of her home that yielded compact fluorescent light bulbs, new showerheads and faucet aerators and a list of broken sprinklers.
If Gandara hired a private company for a written report of energy and water use in her home, she would have paid $200 for the audit and around $40 for the replacement parts, according to Burbank Water and Power, which recently won a state award for the program.
Other homes save upwards of $2,300 by making the call, according to a utility report.
“We try to provide little tips that are low- or no-cost for the customers,” said energy and water specialist Stanley Mueller. “It’s really about educating customers to make lifestyle changes.”
Whether it’s adhering to the city requirement to water lawns during the correct days and times — Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays before 9 a.m. or after 6 p.m. — or making sure the temperatures are correct for water heaters, refrigerators and freezers, the efforts can make a marked difference on utility bills. But house calls through the program have the added benefit of free insulation services.
Gandara’s insulation was the recommended thickness, but the program will provide free duct sealing and insulation for attics, which cost close to $1,000 each.
“Our biggest challenge with the program is convincing Burbank residents that there truly is no catch,” said program manager Joe Flores.
Crews visit four to five homes a day and about 80 Burbank homes each month request a free audit, according to the utility.
The program received the California Municipal Utilities Assn. 2011 Public Benefits Award for the utility’s efforts to promote low-cost energy efficiency for its customers.
Residents who participate in the Green Home House Call program reduce their annual energy and water bill by an average of $129, according to the utility.
“Normally, I just look to see how much by bill is and just pay it,” Gandara said. “I don’t pay attention to how much I spend on each service, but now I will.”