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      Going green, for green

      Even though winter hasn't hit its full stride yet, there's no doubt cold weather is on its way.

      We can bundle up from head to toe, but doing the same for your home can be difficult.

      Kerry Noble is one of the best energy auditors money can buy, having assessed over 2,000 homes in 25 years. For just a $50 co-pay, he'll spend two to three hours combing through every nook and cranny in your house, helping you find ways to make improvements that can save you big bucks for years to come.

      Noble believes the program is the perfect storm.

      â??Home owners are incentivized to increase insulation and reduce energy costs in their home, local contractors get work, and everybody saves energy,â?? elaborated Noble.

      Thanks to the Superior Watershed Partnership, Marquette residents, like Peter Goodrich, can have assessors like Kerry come to their home for a thorough checkup.

      â??Old houses need lots of maintenance; anyone whoâ??s ever owned one knows that. Weâ??re constantly looking for ways that we can afford to improve energy efficiency,â?? remarked Goodrich.

      Goodrich has owned his Victorian home for 26 years. It was built in the late 1800s, so there is ample room for improvement.

      To start, the house is depressurized. This involves sealing all naturally open airways, like fireplaces. Then, they set the door blower to negative 50 pascals, simulating a 25 mph wind on all six sides of the house.

      The vacuum-sealed dwelling can now be measured for two things: which sites are being affected the most and how fast they are leaking, both of which are considered to be the leading causes of heat loss by the Department of Energy.

      Once set on autopilot, Kerry can maneuver around the house looking for moving objects, checking the air pressure in doorways, and feeling power outlets for any leakage. After noting any irregularities, he heads outside to take elevation photos of the house.

      Thermal imaging of the pictures allows for a visual interpretation of the leakage. The lighter the color, the warmer the temperature. While windows and doorways are somewhat obvious culprits, most people don't even consider the foundation.

      Conventional wisdom says heat rises, but the Second Law of Thermodynamics shows more goes to less, heat goes to cold, and with three and a half to four feet of exposed foundation, there's reason to worry.

      After all facets have been taken into consideration, the information can be processed by their sophisticated software and an itemized list of improvements coupled with utility rebates for things like insulation and air sealing. There are even financing options for up to $20,000 worth of improvements.

      Natasha Koss, the Program Manager at the Superior Watershed Partnership, believes the program stands out due to its comprehensive nature.

      â??Itâ??s a two to three hour process getting the entire buildingâ??s footprint. Our assessors work directly with the homeowner, holding their hand through the entire process,â?? explained Koss.

      The program has almost surpassed its goal of seeing 680 homes ahead of schedule. Due to the success, the program has been extended to March 1, 2013 for the entire city of Marquette.