I apologize to those for whom this is really, really old news. But i just got an energy audit from the Energy Trust of Oregon, and i want to make sure everyone knows about it. It could save you a ton of money in energy costs year-round.
You call up this awesome non-profit and they come out to your house to check how well your heating system works, how much insulation you have, how well your windows are sealed and whether your faucets are leaking, among other things. They replace your showerhead with a lower-flow one and put in new faucet heads on your sinks and replace all your old incandescent bulbs with compact florescent ones. They also leave you with a booklet on tax credits and incentives you can get from the state and the federal government, to improve efficiency in your home. And the whole consultation is free!
I got my landlord to agree to do this, after the outrageous numbers on last year's gas bills. With another four to five months of cold weather ahead, and me paying the bills on my own, i figured i should try to spare myself the aggravation and expense of literally feeling the heat sucked out of the windows that lack sealant and the walls that lack insulation. Hopefully the landlord will make some of the improvements, since in the end they'll get the money back in tax credits.
If you are a homeowner and you live in this state, you've got to do this, to save yourself some cash. At the Green Cities conference earlier this year, Mayor Sam Adams talked with mayors from other parts of the country about how Portland has become a leader in sustainability. He said the issue of sustainability was important, but the way that city leaders could convince their constituents that it was needed -- beyond the more altruistic idea of environmental stewardship -- was because of money. Sealing up your house saves you money. Sealing up a government building or school saves us all money. It also just happens to conserve our natural resources too.
If you don't live in Oregon, you can find some of the same tax credits and incentives for energy efficiency in other states too. They might not come to your house and do the work for you, but the programs are out there to be found.