BENNINGTON COUNTY - A new service has been established to offer low cost energy audits, free consulting, and contractor referrals for homeowners in Bennington and Windham counties. The Open Source Efficiency Project is a collaboration of local home performance professionals intended to make home energy efficiency improvements more accessible & affordable. The goal is to facilitate a significant increase in the percentage of homes currently being weatherized in Vermont, starting with two southern Vermont counties.

According to project founder Jon Albee, the strategy is based on feedback from hundreds of energy audit clients over several years. The consensus was that there are still three main deterrents to starting the process of efficiency upgrades:

1. The $400 average cost for an energy audit is still too high.

2. Due to potential conflict of interest, many homeowners would prefer the auditor and contractor to be separate entities.

3. There is a large knowledge gap between what most homeowners know about new energy efficiency standards vs. what the home performance contractor knows. This always puts the homeowner at a disadvantage.

The Open Source Efficiency project answers these problems and more by providing:

1. $175 Energy Audits from independent auditors who are not connected to the contractors.

2. Free objective analysis and advice by Open Source Project Consultants who will help homeowners develop a plan that meets their budget and goals.

3. A competitive contractor proposal process that insures the best work at the best price.

4. An online method for real time feedback. Transparency that keeps everyone focused on the best interests of the homeowner at every step.

"We've assembled a great team," said Albee, "Starting with one of the top energy auditors in the state who spent six years with Efficiency Vermont before joining us. Our project consultant was involved in more completed projects last year than any other auditor in Vermont, and we have four of the top local contractors involved in doing the upgrades. We're prepared to offer very high end service at a reduced cost."

The Open Source Efficiency Project is currently booking $175 residential energy audits in Bennington and Windham Counties. To schedule an audit or get more info they can be reached at 802-688-5860. Homeowners can also request an audit or an estimate on their project via the website at www.OpenSourceEfficiency.com.