Oncor kicks off energy audit incentive program

Oncor Electric Delivery is launching its 2010 program of financial incentives for residential energy audits designed to reduce power consumption along with electric bills.

Homeowners may pick from Oncor's list of approved energy auditors. Oncor provides $200 to the auditing firm, which in turn can lower the cost it charges for an audit that encompasses the entire home, Oncor spokeswoman Jeamy Molina said.

The program is part of Oncor's "Take a Load Off Texas" effort to encourage greater conservation and efficiency, which could reduce the need to build additional power plants and transmission lines. Oncor is the main electric transmission and distribution company for North Texas.

Home energy audits normally cost about $200 to $800, depending on the firm and the thoroughness of the audit, Molina said. A home inspection typically takes two to four hours, she said, after which the auditor identifies improvements the homeowner can make. That could be anything from replacing an old, inefficient air conditioner to adding insulation or putting in new windows.

Oncor's residential energy audit program began in 2008 but "just opened up" for 2010, Molina said. The program, funded through 2012, was created under a commitment made when TXU Corp. was acquired by private investors in a $45 billion leveraged buyout in 2007. Oncor is a subsidiary of Energy Future Holdings, the former TXU Corp.

Oncor said Thursday that it has contracted with Texas HERO (Home Energy Rating Organization), a statewide nonprofit that trains and certifies energy auditors to its nationally recognized standards.

The program assures homeowners "consistent, comprehensive audits provided by certified auditors" and "a reliable source for planning energy savings," said Michael Stockard, director of Oncor's energy efficiency programs. "In the past, home energy audits have varied widely in purpose, quality and comprehensiveness," he said.

Oncor offers more than 30 programs to help homeowners, businesses, schools and governments save energy.

JACK Z. SMITH, 817-390-7724