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Start Your Own Energy Audit


Even new homes could benefit from an energy audit that helps identify ways to reduce energy use. Certified professionals can perform energy audits, but you can start on your own to find low-cost solutions that could save you money on your monthly electric bill.

First, ask yourself if your home feels drafty and cold in the winter or stuffy and hot in the summer. If it does, then the home probably has air leakage.

To track down where those leaks are, start with the usual suspects, like damaged seals around doors and windows. If you see daylight or feel air, then apply caulk and weatherstripping to keep outdoor air where it’s supposed to be.

But don’t forget spots you might not immediately think of, like recessed canister lights and electrical outlets. Outlet insulation kits can be purchased inexpensively, and you can fix up your canister lights with caulk around the edges.

Also, look where walls meet the ceiling: Cobwebs mean you’ve got drafts.

Next, peek into the attic and inspect the insulation. How much you need depends on your climate, but keep in mind that insulation won’t do its job well if you don’t have a proper air barrier working in tandem. That means all joints and cracks must be sealed between your living space and insulated space.

Inspect heating and cooling systems. Check filters and replace them as needed. Generally, you should change them about every three months, especially during periods of high usage. If the unit is more than 15 years old, consider replacing the system with a newer, more energy-efficient unit. A new unit will greatly reduce energy consumption, especially if the existing equipment is in poor condition. Check ductwork for dirt streaks, especially near seams. These indicate air leaks, and they should be sealed with duct mastic. Insulate any ducts or pipes that travel through unheated spaces. An insulation R-value of 6 is the recommended minimum for ductwork.

The appliances and electronics you choose and how you use them affect your energy use and costs. Unplugging an item when it’s not in use prevents it from using electricity needlessly. Purchasing a new, more efficient product may save money and energy in the long run. Utilize smart home energy management systems to monitor and control devices.

Finally, look to your light fixtures. LEDs are more efficient than traditional incandescent lightbulbs, and they’ve come a long way in light quality, design and affordability. An Energy Star-rated model is estimated to use only one-quarter of the electricity consumed by traditional bulbs, and they can last for 25 years or more. As with many new technologies, the upfront cost for an LED bulb is a bit more but well worth it for the energy savings.

Posted: 5/12/2023 10:24:56 AM
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