Comfort and safety added benefits of energy audits

Homeowner Jody Naff, who lives in a Portland, Oregon cottage built in 1912, solicited the help of a home inspection service to help her improve her home's energy efficiency and reduce the draftiness she experienced on the coldest and windiest of days. She did not realize it at the time, but that energy audit may have actually saved her life.

In old homes like Naff's, old utilities like water heaters can produce toxic fumes that could produce negative health effects for homeowners if not addressed properly. In Naff's case, she could have suffered from carbon monoxide poisoning if her water heater, furnace and industrial hood were used simultaneously.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), deaths from carbon monoxide in the United States totaled about 16,500 between 1999 and 2004, representing an average of about 439 individuals each year. Most of these deaths occurred during the winter months, specifically January and December, likely due to higher rates of home heating material usage.

Fortunately for Naff, the home inspection company she hired was able to replace the industrial hood. Home inspection contractors also suggested she install new energy-efficient insulation, high-efficiency water heater and furnace and an exhaust fan to encourage ventilation throughout the home.

While these improvements have made Naff's property more safe and reduced her utility bills, she also is pleased that she no longer needs to be uncomfortable in her own home.

"Now friends and family don't make fun of me anymore for how cold my house is," Naff said in a press release. "And they can take their coats off when they come over."

Maryland and Virginia homeowners may be able to reap even more benefits from producing energy-efficient homes with the help of a Washington, D.C. home inspectors. Erratic winter weather in the Tri-State region may require homeowners to spend more money on home heating costs than their counterparts in Oregon, necessitating energy efficiency in their homes.