Why is everyone talking about an energy audit? Well, autumn has arrived, the cold air is sneaking in the cracks and renovations are in full swing. If you’ve moved to an older farmhouse or rural country home this is one of the best times of the year to assess the energy efficiency of your home with an energy audit.
Although all items on your wish list may not be economically possible right now, take some time to perform a quick audit of known troubles and prioritize your tasks – somehow the jobs don’t feel as overwhelming when you have a well laid out plan of action.
Part One of the Energy Audit: Assess Current Energy Efficiency
Insulate and Fill: Energy Audit
Check insulation levels in your attic, exterior and basement walls. If the snow melted off your roof the moment it landed there in the winter you know that you’re losing a lot of heat out the top of your home. There is no better place to put your money than a little attic insulation in this case.
While it is still a little cool outside, check all walls, corners (top and bottom) for small holes or cracks where the wind might be creeping in and pushing up the thermostat. Areas around windows, doors, lights and plumbing fixtures are known culprits but interior walls behind light switches and electrical outlets can be just as energy draining.
Check the fit and state of any fireplace dampers. (Speaking of fireplaces – this may be an excellent time to investigate a ventless gas fireplace. Ventless and vented modern gas fireplaces save on heating costs and make your home more energy efficient. You’ll get all the comforts of a crackling fire but you won’t be losing all the heat up the chimney. Another positive attribute? You won’t need a contractor to retrofit the existing fireplace.)
Clean all appliances, heating and cooling systems and install new filters as well as vacuuming any dust or debris in the area. Check to ensure that refrigeration and freezer devices are sitting level on the floor as well.
Evaluate light use. Every household differs but if you pay attention to your family’s usage of lighting in the high traffic areas (i.e. living room, kitchen, hallways and outside lighting) you may discover that a sensor, dimmer, or timer installed today will save you money on utilities for years to come.
The Second Part of The Energy Audit: Plan Upgrades
Once you’ve determined the worst culprits for wasted energy use, write your plan by assigning priorities to each upgrade based on current financial loss/costs, current energy loss, cost of upgrade versus savings in consequent years.
If you live in a cooler climate keep in mind that heating accounts for the largest chunk of most energy bills. The same is true of warmer climate regions that spend many months with an air conditioner turned on.
If you have the money in your budget (and/or government grants will assist you in an energy audit, retrofits and upgrades), consider hiring a professional utility energy auditor. For a small fee these professionals analyze the home’s energy systems and structure to help you save money on your utility bills. With a variety of equipment (i.e. blower doors, infrared cameras, and surface thermometers) they’ll find, assess and track the energy leaks in your house.
Once the information has been processed from an energy audit, the contractor, professional, or auditor will supply a list of recommendations for improvements with an estimate of the return on your investment for each upgrade.