Do you ever feel sticker shock when you get your utility bills because you don’t know how you managed to use so much energy to run your home?
Every homeowner should conduct an energy audit of the home before buying. This will help you save hundreds of dollars, improve the environment, and fix issues such as drafty rooms or lack of insulation.
1. How To Prepare For A Home Energy Audit
An energy assessment can help you find out how much energy your home is using and ways you could reduce it. If you are considering home improvements that will reduce your energy consumption, or if you want to add renewable energy systems to your home, this is the first step.
However, before you go ahead with the assessment, it’s important to make small savings. A professional home energy assessment will cost you about $400. Prices can vary depending on where you live and the size of your house.
To study past utility bills, you will need to either pull them up or have them inspected by a professional auditor. Pay close attention to when bills rise, such as during the summer and winter months.
Before an energy auditor comes to your home, they may ask you to make a list of all the problems that you or your family members are having around the house. This could include condensation and drafty rooms. The auditor will inspect the exterior of your home and take note of any windows or doors.
They will also ask your family about their energy habits. For example, what is the average temperature setting from season to season and whether they turn up the heat at night while you are at work or leave the air conditioner running while everyone else is at school.
Your auditor may use equipment such a blower door, infrared camera, furnace efficiency meters and surface thermostats as he or she walks through the rooms. These gadgets will help your auditor get a better understanding of how efficient your home uses energy.
The audit will help you to understand your energy costs monthly and annually. It will also reveal where you have the greatest energy losses. You can make simple home improvements to reduce energy costs.
You’ll also need to determine your budget for these improvements, regardless of whether you are replacing major appliances or filling in air leaks. It is also important to determine if you have the skills and time to do these home improvements, or if you will need to hire a contractor.
2. Hire A Professional Or DIY?
Homeowners in Georgia can perform an assessment themselves, especially if they have obvious problems, such as un insulated basements and attic walls, or air leaks near window frames.
A professional home energy audit is, however, more thorough. Auditors will inspect the entire home room by room using various technologies, such as infrared cameras, blower doors, and PerFluorocarbon tracer gas. They will use this assessment to identify air leaks in your home and help you prioritize areas that need attention so you can make the greatest energy savings.
As a first step in an audit, inspect each room like an auditor. You can make a list of all areas you have inspected and any problems found. Also, take note of every junction on the walls and ceiling to look for air leaks.
Air leaks are most common in windows, doors, lighting fixtures and plumbing fixtures. You can seal air leaks with caulking. You must be careful about “back drafting”, which is when exhaust fans and combustion appliances compete for air, pulling gasses back into the living area.
Checking the insulation levels in your home is another difficult DIY job. This is determined by the recommendations at the time. It’s possible that your insulation is not up to current standards if you live in an older house. However, new homeowners shouldn’t be satisfied with their achievements – there are still ways to reduce energy consumption.
Attics and basements are areas that may have low insulation. You can make sure the doors to these areas of your home are closed tightly to keep out damp, cold air. The vapor barrier should be installed beneath attic insulation. This vapor barrier is usually made of tar paper, Kraft paper attached to fiberglass batts or a sheet of plastic. You can also paint the interior with vapor barrier paint, if you don’t have it. This will keep water vapor from passing through the ceiling to a minimum.
Also, make sure to check the insulation on the walls of your main floors. To ensure safety, turn off the circuit breaker or remove the fuse from any outlets. Once you are certain that the outlets aren’t receiving electricity, you can probe the wall by removing one of the outlet covers. You could insert a plastic crochet hook to check if the insulation material has returned. You should feel some friction so that you can tell if your walls have padding.
If you are not handyman-like, the aspects of an energy audit can be difficult to complete. A professional is your best option for a thorough audit, and peace of mind. The savings you get from fixing problems around your house will payoff the cost by the end of the year.
3. What Are The Most Common Tips To Improve Energy Efficiency?
Common pitfalls homeowners fall into when it comes to their homes can cause their energy bills to soar. These energy inefficiencies can often be identified during an audit and fixed with minor tweaks and repairs.
It’s always worth checking the age and efficiency of your water heating system. You could end up paying more to heat your home’s water than you have to if your heating system is in its final days. A new water heater will heat your water three to four times faster.
Look out for the Energy Star label when you shop for appliances. This indicates that major household products are more efficient and environmentally friendly. Some labels will even show how much you can save each month.
Sometimes, bigger isn’t always better. Many homeowners make the mistake of purchasing an air conditioner that’s too large for their home. Contrary to popular belief, a cooling system that is larger doesn’t last as long as one that is smaller. It will blast your home with cold, fast-moving air, causing moisture, condensation, and even mold. It’s better to choose an air conditioner that is right for your home.
Governments have changed their energy policies to use LED (light-emitting diodes), or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) as a result. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, simply changing from incandescent lighting to LEDs will increase your home’s energy efficiency up to 85 percent. In Georgia your Atlanta Gas Light bill is about 10% of lighting costs. You can save money by switching out your light bulbs. You can also reduce your lighting consumption by installing sensors, dimmers, and timers.
Buyers could insist on an energy audit before buying a home. If the audit shows that there are major problems such as outdated appliances or needing to be upgraded, buyers can request a reduction in the asking price or have the problem fixed by the seller. Prospective buyers should insist on an energy audit in order to avoid buying an energy guzzler.