Energy Audits: Wasteful or Worth It?

Lori and Marek Fuchs have never fought in their 16 years of marriage — except over money. In this column, Mr. and Mrs. Fuchs, a real-life married couple with three kids (ages 12, 8 and 5), articulate their very different approaches to personal finance.

This week, the Fuchs talk about their recent energy audit. He says, despite his original doubts, the audit was worth it. She says "I told you so."

Mrs. Fuchs: Admit it.

Mr. Fuchs: Absolutely not. Admit what?

Mrs. Fuchs: That we were right to have that energy audit of our house, even though it cost $300.

Mr. Fuchs: While it pains me to admit you were right, — ouch, ouch, oh, the agony — you were. But, man, I was really apprehensive at first. They came to our house with a big exhaust fan, which they affixed to the front door, blocking out all the space around the fan. Then they turned it on and the ensuing air flow revealed cracks and crevices where the breeze from the outside comes into the house and replaces warm, expensive heat with outdoor chill.

Mrs. Fuchs: That’s right. You thought that the only solutions would be to install new windows and to insulate the whole house from top to bottom. Both were so expensive that you all but dismissed even the assessment. You didn’t reckon that, thanks to the assessment, we’d learn relatively inexpensive solutions that will save us a lot of money by using less electricity and natural gas, and that there are financial incentives to do so.

Mr. Fuchs: It’s the story of our lives — you knew it all.  In all seriousness — actually, that was kind of serious — I’ll admit it: the idea of a giant exhaust fan seemed like a gimmick. And I never quite realized that simple solutions like caulking between the baseboards and floor, where there is space in an old 1920s era house like ours, can save money and make your toes feel more comfortable on a daily basis.

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