• Green Tip: DIY Home Energy Audit

    Posted by   |  November 10, 2016
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    While preparing for cooler temperatures, it is important to make sure your home is ready for the temperature changes and running efficiently.  This Do it Yourself Home Energy Audit will provide you with with energy savings that will pad your wallet and reduce your impact on the environment.

    Regardless of the age of your home or time since last renovation or remodel, this DIY Audit will help to pinpoint the obvious and the easily remedied areas of concern, and help determine if you need to invest in a professional home energy audit. Energy Audits should be performed in a sequential order, to ensure you are properly addressing each of the concerns.

    Locate Air Leaks

    Start by inspecting the windows, baseboards, outlets and switches, and lighting and plumbing fixtures.  If you notice a draft, make sure you find the appropriate material to seal it through caulking, plugs, or other measures to block the drafts.  Locating and sealing air leaks will allow your home to be more comfortable and generate less demand on your home heating system. These changes could lead to a 10-20% reduction in your energy bills!

    While inspecting for air leaks, it is important to note that if you use fuel for heating, you must ensure that the respective unit has proper air supply to reduce indoor air pollution and the associated hazards.  If you notice that the air is not ventilating properly, contact a professional immediately to fix the issue.

    Check your Insulation
    Insulation methods and types have changed over the last few decades, so depending on the age or location of your home, your insulation may need replacing.  Improper insulation will allow for a great deal of heat loss. If you have an attic, it is important to make sure vents are not blocked, and that insulation is properly installed and is serving it’s purpose.  When looking inside your walls (if you do not know what type of insulation was used), you can turn off the circuit breaker on an exterior wall, remove the cover of a switch or outlet, and use something similar to a crochet hook to see if you can grab particles of insulation, determining if you need to update. You can also check your floors or sub-space for proper installation, and if there is none, it is recommended to insulate this area too.

    Overall, if you can feel the cold from outside through your exterior walls, you more than likely have inadequate insulation, that will require updates to reduce your electric bill.  Energy.gov provides different insulation types, with some having more environmental benefits than others.

    Inspect Home Heating & Cooling Equipment
    When performing your home energy audit, it is important to do a thorough inspection of your heating and cooling equipment, especially to ensure that filters are being changed properly and that they are operating normally.  If you notice your equipment is not running efficiently, or is older than 15 years old it may be time to invest in newer, more energy efficient equipment to reduce your consumption even more. Regardless of age or operating condition, it is important to check the ducts for dirt streaks and seal them if noticed, as they indicate air leaks and reduce the efficiency of the operation.  Lastly, if you have areas of unheated space and you have ducts and especially pipes running through, it is important to properly insulate them.

    Lighting Methods, Appliances, Electronics
    By replacing incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) or light emitting diodes (LEDS) you can see drastic reductions in your electric bill, since they run off of less power and produce better quality light than typical incandescent bulbs.

    In addition, make sure to inspect your appliances and electronics.  In order to reduce your energy consumption, you can use a surge protector for collective ones you do not need on constantly and turn them off, change timers and settings on them, or purchase more efficient ones if they are aging and not working properly.

    Summarizing your Audit
    After you have completed your audit it is important to note areas of concern and determine if a professional needs to be brought in. Part of this may include following an outline of questions recommended by Energy.gov:

    • How much money do you spend on energy?
    • Where are your greatest energy losses?
    • How long will it take for an investment in energy efficiency to pay for itself in energy cost savings?
    • Do the energy-saving measures provide additional benefits that are important to you—for example, increased comfort from installing double-paned, efficient windows?
    • How long do you plan to own your current home?
    • Can you do the job yourself or do you need a contractor?
    • What is your budget?
    • How much time do you have for maintenance and repairs?

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