HG: SustainAbility Column October 25, 2008
Fritz Diether is a busy man.
As president of Frostbusters & Coolth Co. he pedals as fast as he can to keep up with surging interest in home energy audits and improved energy efficiency.
Fourteen months ago, Fritz was the entire company. He now employs four people in green-collar jobs and is planning on hiring an additional employee or two in the near future.
“People are finally starting to take energy efficiency seriously,” he explained.
There is tremendous potential for improvement, and Fritz can help pinpoint what changes can bring the highest returns. The process of doing an energy audit is “instructive to the homeowner.”
Armed with exotic equipment, such as a blower door and infrared camera, Fritz and his crew will comb your house to find leaks and missing insulation that cost you money.
Sealing furnace ductwork provides one of the quickest paybacks. You can lose 30–40 percent of your heat before it gets to the registers. This will also provide better air quality.
Fritz stressed a tight building and good ventilation go hand in hand to create a comfortable and healthy home environment.
With the cost of utilities on the rise, putting money into making houses more energy efficient is a good investment. Leakage in older homes can usually be reduced by 30–50 percent and sometimes exceeds those figures.
As a general rule of thumb, the cost of an energy audit runs 20–25 cents per square foot of your house. This price includes a full report with directions on how to correct the problems.
Services of Frostbusters & Coolth run the gamut from providing the audit with report to acting as general contractor to coordinate and inspect all improvements. If you prefer to do the work yourself, that’s fine, too.
When you want assistance, the company does the air and duct sealing. There are lists of recommended contractors to help you hire qualified people to make other improvements.
Fritz said he also works on a consulting basis.
The company is an Energy Star Partner and a member of Built Green. Fritz is also a Certified Residential Energy Services Network Rater. For more information on energy audits call 255–1122 or go to http://www.frostbusters.com.
About half of the company’s overall business is working with new houses and implementing an Energy Star grant involving program promotion, training and outreach.
Homebuyers need to ask about energy efficiency when shopping for a house, according to Fritz.
The Energy Services Network’s Home Energy Rating System can be applied to houses of any age, allowing for comparisons among homes.
Eventually, Fritz would like to see all houses rated this way and included in the real estate Multiple Listing Service.
Fritz is also a proponent of banks including utility costs in discussions about home loans.
Traditionally, the cost of a home includes PITI: principal, interest, taxes and insurance. He would like
to add a “U” for utilities.