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Energy audit shows heat loss in home

Rod Nordberg1 / 2
Bo Ernst uses an infrared gun to see where heat is escaping from a home. Energy audits were performed last week in Park Rapids. (Anna Erickson / Enterprise)2 / 2

With cold temperatures signifying winter is finally here, a Park Rapids homeowner received information on ways to save on heating costs by closing up leaks in his house.

Rod Nordberg, who lives on south Park Avenue (Highway 71), received an energy audit Wednesday afternoon as part of the Green Park Rapids effort to promote energy efficiency in the city. Bo Ernst, with G.A. Ernst and Associates, performed the energy audit.

Nordberg was one of six homeowners to have an energy audit last week.

"I went to the energy workshop and thought I could try this," Nordberg said. "My biggest question is if the improvements will be worth it."

The home, built in 1946, could be improved by plugging up leaks, Ernst said.

The main culprits in Nordberg's home are the ceiling joists and kneewall, which is in the attic.

During the energy audit, Ernst checked the furnace to make sure it was working efficiently. He also checked for leaks in the house using a blower door.

The blower door was installed in the front of the house. When turned on, a fan pulls air through the house, which enables Ernst to use an infrared gun to see where the leaks are.

"Number one, air flow is a problem," Ernst said. "And number two, insulating the walls."

Nordberg's home has had ice dams on the roof during the winter. This can be explained by air leaking through the attic. Snow on top of the roof is melted as warm air rises and leaks through the roof. As the melted snow reaches the edge of the roof, it re-freezes, creating an ice dam.

By adding insulation and plugging up some of the leaks in his home, Nordberg could prevent ice dams.

State Rep. Brita Sailer - DFL, Park Rapids, observed the energy audit at Nordberg's home. She has expressed interest in green efforts.

As part of the energy audit, Sari Mabbett, who works with Green Park Rapids, installed compact fluorescent light bulbs throughout the home and added some insulation to pipes in the basement.

Nordberg is already conservative with his electric use and turns down the heat upstairs where no one spends time.

He will look at the recommendations provided after the energy audit and determine if the money spent on improvements will save him money. Some federal energy tax credits are available for him to look at that could make the improvements more affordable.

Earlier this year, Green Park Rapids provided energy audits to homeowners within a pilot area of the city. It was expanded to anyone within the city limits.