The other day I got a call from the US Energy Efficiency Council. A female voice wanted to know on which day to schedule my energy audit – taken for granted that of course I wanted one.

The US Energy Efficiency Council? What’s that? Sounds an awful lot like a government agency. But no, it’s not quite that – although it would not exist without government stimulus money. According to their webpage it’s a “non-profit community of advisors and industry leaders working to transform the United States into an energy efficient economy.”

In response to my questions the female voice told me the following:

  • Usually the energy audit costs $ 250 but now they have a special for $ 49
  • The audit could take up to three hours
  • A firm located in the northeast of the US will perform the audit and recommend solutions
  • The same firm will offer to carry out the recommended solutions; in that case the cost of the audit will be waived entirely
  • Green products will be used to fix any problems found during the audit
  • Available tax credits and rebates will be explained after the audit

On the webpage of the US Energy Efficiency Council (USEEC) I found out more:

“Help create a Green Jobs Revolution” you can read underneath the photo of a woman overlooking a green meadow. And beneath a picture of Obama delivering a speech it says: “Insulation is sexy.”

Apparently, the USEEC commands a small army of green firms with professional and expert consultants and specialists waiting to descend on your house with their cutting-edge equipment:

Professional energy consultants and contractors can help you cost-effectively improve your home’s energy efficiency. These specially-trained contractors evaluate your home using state-of-the-art equipment and recommend comprehensive improvements that will yield the best results.

Comprehensive improvements? That sounds expensive. But do not fear:

All of the solutions are quite different and customized to each home, but the weatherization solutions are the most cost effective alterations you can make to a home. For weatherization solutions, we’re not talking thousands and thousands of dollars, these are simple, inexpensive solutions. NO construction is involved. You will be pleasantly surprised on how little you would need to spend to save a great deal of MONEY every month, and with all the rebates and tax credits it is very little out of pocket expense.

So it’s comprehensive improvements and at the same time it’s so cheap that you’ll be surprised. What exactly did they say they would be doing? Simple, inexpensive solutions, no construction involved – weatherization solutions. Ok, the green professional energy consultants will swarm into your house to weather-strip it. Welcome the green jobs revolution.

And it’s so cheap. Well, it’s not thousands and thousands of dollars. Perhaps then it’s around two or three thousand dollars for an average home? Isn’t that a lot for weather-stripping? Never mind. Didn’t they mention rebates and tax credits?

Indeed:

The average rebate is 50% in cash rebates. Various states also offer $1,000 in FREE subsidized air-sealing. Your auditor will have all the specifics about the rebates and will be fully prepared to explain them in detail … As of February 17th 2009 the Federal government’s new stimulus plan was approved to pay 30% in tax credits for energy upgrades to homeowners who make their homes more energy efficient. So you get 30% back in tax credits and rebates.

You might end up spending perhaps $ 1000 or so for having your house weather stripped. And it’s done by real professionals.

But before getting carried away the US Energy Efficiency Council is so friendly to remind us unprofessional hoi-polloi:  “But remember, audits alone don’t save energy. You need to implement the recommended improvements.”  Thank you.

Who really pays for all this weather-stripping? Of course it’s you – or your children and grand-children. But you have no control over spending the money – it’s spent for you. This kind of disempowerment is Obamanomics in a nutshell: replace free-market forces with the force of government directing huge streams of money into politically correct endeavors. $5 billion of the 2009 stimulus are marked for being spent on insulation of private homes and government buildings. Business will follow this gush of money – to a certain extent it might have to follow to survive in this kind of coerced market economy.

But do you want to follow? Will you have your energy audit done? Will you accept rebates and tax credits from a stimulus that contributes to our crushing debt burden? I won’t.  I can do my weather-stripping myself to lower my electricity bills. Aren’t Americans known for their resourcefulness and practicality?

One last thought: doubtlessly, the experts would do a better job sealing my house than I could do it myself. They will bring in blower doors sucking out air to lower the air pressure inside the house. They will then be able to find all the leakage areas that I don’t even know about. They will seal my house tightly – the goal is to prevent any air leakage from the inside out and from the outside in.

With all the riches from government provided stimulus money these experts have every incentive to hunt down the last tiny leak in my house and seal it. But whereas insulation is a good thing, too much of it is not. In fact, a certain amount of air leakage – let’s call it ventilation – is necessary in order to preserve the quality of the air that we are breathing inside our houses. Especially in the United States where many people never seem to open their windows to let in some fresh air.

After all, we humans still breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide as well as other exhaust gases. Don’t worry, carbon dioxide does not lead to global warming and your house plants will thrive in a super tightly sealed house but it might cause you some unpleasantness. Wikipedia says:

In indoor spaces occupied by people the carbon dioxide concentration will reach higher levels than in pure outdoor air. Concentrations higher than 1,000 ppm will cause discomfort in more than 20% of occupants, and the discomfort will increase with increasing CO2 concentration. The discomfort will be caused by various gases coming from human respiration and perspiration, and not by CO2 itself. At 2,000 ppm the majority of occupants will feel a significant degree of discomfort, and many will develop nausea and headaches. The CO2 concentration between 300 and 2,500 ppm is used as an indicator of indoor air quality.

So I definitely opt for insulating my house myself. I will tell the female voice next week when she calls back.

But if you decide to go ahead with the energy audit please call Obama and ask for some more stimulus money to provide future CO2 audits. Solutions to high indoor C02 levels could comprise so-called carbon dioxide scrubbers that are used in submarines to remove C02 from the air. No doubt there would be generous tax rebates and credits so that you would end up paying very little out of pocket money for your own scrubber. And just think of the jobs revolution that these scrubbers will bring along with them. If Obama finds insulation sexy then I cannot wait for him to describe carbon dioxide scrubbers.