Spokane County, the cities of Spokane and Spokane Valley, and Avista Utilities soon will make home energy audits available through a joint effort.
Spokane County discussed the audits in a 2009-2010 annual report that it distributed at a Greater Spokane Incorporated meeting March 12.
The report said the three governments have pledged a total of nearly $700,000 from money they'll receive through the state of Washington's Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant program.
It said Avista will provide matching funds for the program.
The audits will be announced formally after contracts for the grants have been signed, says Avista spokeswoman Debbie Simock.
The audits will be performed by a certified energy auditor employed by an outside contractor to Avista, and a fee will be charged for the audits, although the funds the three governments will put up will help defray the fee during the two-year pilot program, Simock says.
"There will be a price. It's going to be less expensive than if you did it yourself," she says. "After the audit, the homeowner will receive a report of some of the things they can do to make their home more energy efficient."
Avista will pay for items, such as compact fluorescent lightbulbs, door sweeps, and low-flow showerheads that will be left behind by energy auditors for homeowners to use right away, Simock says.
All Spokane County residents will be eligible for the audits, although Avista by regulation can't be involved in audits for customers of other utilities, she says.
For years, Avista has offered energy "walk-throughs" at the premises of commercial customers and provided such customers reports on how to save energy, Simock says.
"It's not an investment-grade audit," which can be used to obtain bids from contractors for energy-efficiency improvements, although the audits homeowners will get will be investment grade, Simock says.
Because of the expense, Avista hasn't done residential energy audits in a long time, she says.
"Back in the 1980s, we did things like hot-water tank wraps" with insulating blankets in customers' homes, Simock says. "Once again, the environment is changing. With the stimulus money, this is a good way to do this."
Under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the U.S. government provided, through the state of Washington, energy conservation block grants of nearly $2 million to the city of Spokane and $702,000 to Spokane County, the U.S. Department of Energy says.
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