Programs help you get money back for energy efficiency

It’s that time of year, and we’ve all recently opened the highest heating bill of the season.

I’ve had people tell me that this is their highest bill in years. Whether it’s the highest or not is unimportant; the important thing is that it is high.

What can be done? Could you benefit from additional insulation? What’s the right amount of insulation? Is there insulation in your walls? What about the drafts? All of these are great questions —and they do have answers.

The only way to really know exactly what’s going on in your home is to have a home energy audit performed. There are a couple of types of energy audits. First is the basic walk-through, where you’ll have an auditor walk through your home and give you educated guesses.

Then there’s the comprehensive audit, where an educated auditor uses sophisticated instruments like the ones recommended by the U.S. Department of Energy, local utility companies and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. These instruments include blower doors, infrared cameras and laser thermometers. With these instruments, it’s like the auditor has X-ray vision and can see hot and cold spots invisible to the naked eye, such as drafts or inadequate insulation. He or she will be able to tell exactly where you’re wasting energy — and what you can do to remedy the situation.

Here’s the best part. DTE Energy/Michcon customers can get a rebate of $100 just to have the energy audit performed in their homes. There is an additional $100 rebate if eligible energy improvements are made.

There are also up to $1,500 in rebates for eligible energy improvements. That’s up to $1,700 from DTE/Michcon for making your home more energy efficient.

And don’t forget about the federal energy tax credits. There’s another $1,500 that can be put to good use and help you save money on energy costs. Go to the DTE Web site to find a list of certified energy auditors. Keep in mind that your auditor must be certified in order for you to qualify for the rebates.

By having a comprehensive energy audit performed at your home, you’ll learn what you can do to save on energy costs, and even make your home healthier and more comfortable.

Joel Wensley is a licensed mechanical contractor in the state of Michigan, a WJBK-TV Fox2 Detroit news contributor and president of Mechanical Heating & Cooling in Dearborn Heights.