DIY Friday: 5 Step Energy Audit
A professional energy audit can be very beneficial, but rather costly. Before you break out a wad of cash, consider completing an energy audit yourself. It may not be as thorough as a professional energy assessment, but it could help you locate the areas that need more attention. Here are the five best places to start:
Lighting can account for up to 20% of your electric bill so it is wise to ensure you are using the most efficient bulbs. This is the easiest energy upgrade but many people overlook it. Regular incandescent light bulbs are outdated and wasteful, so we recommend switching to CFLs or LEDs. These bulbs tend will you the same amount of light for a fraction of the energy.
Check for air leaks in all the obvious places: windows, doors, and along baseboards. If you find any cracks or holes, seal them with a reliable material such as caulk or weatherstripping. Keep in mind that your building needs adequate ventilation to avoid backdrafts and indoor air pollution. If you burn fuel for heat, make sure the appliance has enough air flow. Burn marks or soot seen around the appliance indicate a poor draft and may need professional attention.
Inspect your attic for any gaps near ductwork, pipes, or chimneys, and seal with a spray foam or other permanent sealant. Keep in mind that insulation installed near devices that produce heat must be non-combustible. Also check to see if a vapor barrier exists beneath the attic insulation. This will help limit the amount of water vapor passing through the ceiling and damaging the effectiveness of the insulation.
Check the insulation of an exterior wall by making a small hole in a closet or in another unnoticeable area to inspect the contents of the wall cavity. Unfortunately this method will not tell you if the entire wall is insulated correctly, but if you decide to look toward professional services, a thermographic inspection will help.
Electronics and Appliances
Monitor the electronics and appliances you use and see if you are able to cut back on usage. Strategies for energy reduction include unplugging when not in use (energy is still consumed even if the appliance is turned off!), altering the settings, using appliances less often, and purchasing ones that are more energy efficient. As an added bonus, these energy efficient appliances may qualify for a tax credit!
Heating and Cooling
Examine and replace your air filters once a month to ensure steady air flow and to avoid inefficiency. If you notice dirt streaks near the seams of your ductwork, an air leak is present and you’ll need to seal it with a duct mastic. Finally, make sure any ductwork that travels through an unheated area is fully insulated.
These five steps will help you calulate the amount of energy being consumed, help you alter your consumption, and even lower your energy bills. Again, a professional energy audit is the best way to complete a thorough assessment, but these steps will help you gauge how well your home or office is performing. For further detail on do-it-yourself energy audits, visit energy.gov.
From everyone at YourEnergyBlog, enjoy your savings (and your weekend)!
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