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Home Energy Audit
One of the easiest ways to determine what you need to do to make your home more energy efficient and save on your energy costs is to have an energy audit done. With an energy audit you will be able to determine what problems there are with your house and can show you how much money you could save by correcting these problems. It can also show you the specific places where your house is losing the most energy.
An energy audit will look at items such as your home’s electricity usage, water efficiency, indoor air quality, heating and cooling system efficiency, as well as insulation. However, keep in mind that changing a few light bulbs and sealing up a drafty window are good ideas to save money on your energy bills, but bigger savings require bigger renovations.
Home energy audits can be done yourself or you can hire a professional to come and do the audit for you. Any qualified home inspector will be able to point out energy saving tips. Sometimes a professional can do a more thorough examination and find problems that you may not see yourself. However, to receive any tax credits, rebates or grants, you must use a federally licensed energy auditor.
At the end of your energy audit you will be provided with a list of retrofits, their estimated costs and any available government grants. If you are planning on selling your home, then your energy audit report will help make your home more marketable. If you are planning on staying, then this report will help you plan your renovations to best take advantage of government rebates and tax credits.
How To Do A Home Energy Audit?
Doing a home energy audit yourself is very easy. You simply walk through your house, but you need to do this with care and attention to all the little details. By doing this home walk-through, you can indemnify many of the problems in your home. During your home audit, you should keep a checklist handy and mark off the areas that you have inspected and the specific problems that you have found. The list will help you make decisions on what needs to be fixed or upgraded and you can decide what to do first.
Check Your House for Air Leaks and Drafts
One of the most important and often most obvious problems in a home are air leaks and drafts. If you reduce the air leaks and drafts in your home you can potentially save between 5-30% a year in home energy costs. Reducing the leaks and drafts can also make your home more comfortable for you and your family.
Windows and Doors
Check your windows and doors for air leaks around them. If you have doors or windows that you can see daylight around the edges of them, there are problems with air leaks. This means that you are literally letting money fly out your windows. It is easy to seal up these areas that leak. Fix all the cracks in your windows and doors. Install new thresholds and weather-stripping, caulk any air leaks, and seal those areas air tight to reduce your heating and cooling costs. It is also important to check all of your storm windows. They should fit correctly and should not be broken.
Flooring, Walls and Ceilings
You should check along baseboards and edges of flooring and at the connections of walls and ceilings. These are the most common places for indoor air leaks.
Insulation is another very important factor in home energy efficiency. You can lose a substantial amount of heat if your ceiling and walls are not insulated with the recommended minimum levels. Depending on the age of your home, it may have had the proper amount of insulation when it was built but, with rising energy prices and with age, the level of insulation may no longer meet the minimum requirements. Also, carefully inspect your attic and add insulation as needed to maintain the minimum requirements.
Exterior of Your House
It is also important to check the exterior of your house for air leaks. You should check all the areas where two types of building materials meet each other. Some of these areas include exterior corners, areas where siding and chimney meet, and all areas where the foundation of the house and the bottom of the brick or siding meet each other. All holes and areas where faucets, pipes, wiring, or electrical outlets are placed should be plugged and sealed. If there are any holes or cracks in your foundation or siding you should seal these with material that is appropriate for these areas. Caulking should be checked and replaced as needed around exterior windows and doors.
There are a variety of ways that you can increase the energy efficiency in your home and help you reduce your energy bills. Many of these ways are free or very inexpensive. They can save you quite a bit of money on energy costs in the long run. Plus, by making your home more energy efficient, you will be saving and protecting the environment.
First of all, to help with energy efficiency, you need to look at where and how much electricity you are using in certain areas of your home. By doing this, you will quickly learn how to use your energy more efficiently and save yourself money. You will also get a good idea of what is costing you the most and how you can change the usage of these areas.
Appliances and Electronics
You need to check your appliances and electronics that you are using in your home. Keep in mind that if you live in an average U.S. home, appliances and electronics will account for approximately 20% of your monthly energy bills. Some of the appliances and electronics that play a part in this cost are washers and dryers, dishwashers, computers, refrigerators and freezers, home audio equipment, televisions, DVD players, VCRs, room air conditioners, and water heaters. There are many energy efficient appliances and electronics on the market today. You may want to consider purchasing these to conserve your energy use.
You should also look at how you are using your appliances and electronics and find ways to conserve energy with them. For instance, turn off or set your computers sleep mode when you are not going to use it for awhile. This will save a lot of energy. You should also keep your appliances clean. This makes it so they do not have to work as hard to produce energy. Use the lowest settings possible so that you can save energy. Turn off appliances and electronics when they are not needed.
Use Energy Efficient Light Bulbs and Lighting Products
You should also consider purchasing energy-efficient light bulbs and lighting products. This is an excellent way to reduce your energy consumption and save money on energy costs. Also make sure that you turn off lights when you are not using them. Another idea is to utilize sunlight as much as possible for lighting your home.
If you have old lighting outside your home, buy new solar fixtures to replace them. The technology has made them a great alternative to low voltage lighting. They are much brighter and last longer than when they were introduced to the marketplace.
Install A Programmable Thermostat
An easy and very efficient way to reduce your energy costs is by simply turning your thermostat down. If you turn the thermostat down by about 10 degrees Fahrenheit at night when you are sleeping, you can save 10-20% on your heating bills. It is also a good idea to turn the thermostat down when there is no one at home. If you work during the day, set the thermostat lower while you are away. You can also lower your thermostat a few degrees and just dress in warmer clothing. This will save on your heating costs also.
Another alternative is to install a programmable thermostat in your home. These allow for different settings for day, night, and weekends. They can be programed with multiple settings so that you are not heating and cooling your home. You can program the thermostat to automatically run at a lower setting when you are away from home, and then it will automatically run at the desired temperature when you are home.
Another way to decrease energy usage and to lower your energy costs is by keeping your refrigerator temperature set between 37 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit. You should also regularly clean the coils of your refrigerator. This will help it work more efficiently and it will not run as much. You should also keep your refrigerator full. There is a lot more energy required to keep an empty refrigerator cold. If your refrigerator is more than 10 years old, you should consider buying a newer one. Models that are more than 10 years old can use over 3 times more energy than newer, more efficient models.
You can purchase a water heater that is energy efficient. Electric water heaters should have them temperature lowered to 120 degrees Fahrenheit. This makes the water heater run most efficiently. You should also turn your water heater off when you are going to be gone for long periods of time such as when you go on vacation. There are timers available that you can use for electric water heaters. By doing this, you are only heating water when it is needed instead of the water heater keeping water hot all the time.
Another option is to purchase a water heater that is energy efficient and does not require electricity to run. With gas heaters, you have to manually set the settings to regulate water temperature.
You may also consider installing a tank-less hot-water heater in your home. These only heat water when it is being used. Regular hot water heaters are constantly draining electricity keeping water hot in the tank even when not in use. As they are becoming more popular, the price of these systems have been decreasing.
An excellent way to save on your cooling and heating costs is to install ceiling fans in the rooms that you use most. The air circulation that you gain will make the temperature in the rooms feel cooler or warmer depending on the season. An important part of having an energy efficient ceiling fan is remembering to turn it off when you are not in the room.
As you can see, there are quite a few improvements that you can make in and around your home that can save you a good amount of money in the long run. By implementing these techniques, you can not only help conserve energy and make your home more energy efficient but also save a great deal of money on your energy bills. You will also be conserving energy and saving the environment.