Energy Audit for Your Home
Now the weather has turned cool and well, down right cold at night, it’s time to assess your home and see just how energy effecient it really is. The best and more reliable way to do this is by doing an energy audit. Now I know the word “audit” can send chills down anyones spine, but an ENERGY audit is a GOOD audit and one that you can do in less than an hour.
So, how much of that warm air (or cold air in the summer) is escaping from your doors, windows, appliance vents, and duct work? Just by sealing around exterior doors and windows can reduce your monthly bill by as much as 20%! Now that’s a lot of dough! While you’re at it, check to make sure there aren’t any drafts coming from the gaps in your interior trim around your doors and windows. If you can feel the cold, then chances are it’s not properly insulated. My best advice is to score the caulking with a utility knife and gently pry away the trim to expose the rough opening. Then you can really see how the cold air is coming in and your warm air is going out! Using the correct insulation for windows, like an easy to use spray foam, will do just the trick. Just make you don’t use more than recommended by the manufacturer or you could bow the sides of your windows and thus, rendering your windows inoperable.
Another place to check for air escaping your house is in the attic. Check around the duct work and vents that are either on your roof or on the upper side of your house…insulating them and sealing the vent joints with duct tape is just as important as insulating your ceilings and floors! And inspect your existing insulation while you’re up there…has it become compacted from holiday decorations sitting on it all year? Insulation that is flattened or crushed is as bad as no insulation at all.
How about under your kitchen or bathroom sinks? Do you have a big, gaping hole in the cabinet underneath where the drain passes through the floor? Well, plug it up! Just make sure if you use a foam insulation that is designed for minimal expansion so you won’t crack your pipe.
Here are some good tips to ensure that your house is energy efficient this winter:
1: Try using compact flourescent light bulbs instead of incandescent ones. I know you are probably tired of hearing about how great they are…but they really are! They use 75%, that’s 75% less energy and they last 10X longer…need I say more?
2: Think about installing a ceiling fan in rooms that you and your family hang out in the most. By moving the warm air in the room around, ( make sure it is going in the “winter” direction which is clockwise on lower speeds this winter and “summer” direction next spring which is counter clockwise on higher speeds) you can better control the temperature in the room which leads to the less likelihood of have to adjust your thermostat, which can save you more energy.
3: Change out that old, dusty air filter in your heating and cooling unit or units. I like to use the big, thick ones which will also catch more allergens in the air as it recycles through your house…having two huge Labrador dogs kinda makes that a no-brain-er for our house!
4: If it’s time for an appliance update, make sure it has the ENERGY STAR sticker on it. Nowdays, you’d be hardpressed to find an appliance that doesn’t have one…but if they are out there, consider paying a bit more to get that savings in the long run because appliances to account for up to 25% of your household energy consumption.
5: And last, but not least, if you are at that place where you are ready to really make that switch and save some money…then a tankless water heater is the best bet. I installed two in my house and having hot water on demand without demanding the energy to keep it hot, It is well worth the investment. Plus, I get a tax break on it one every year I do my taxes! *Be sure to check with your accountant for the tax codes in your state*