You never know what we might find when we come to your home to do an energy audit. While many of the things we discover are common to many homes, sometimes we uncover problems that no one even suspected…like the time we found a leaky hot water pipe that was causing the water heater to cycle continuously. Or, the time we discovered a water bed heater (yeah, they’re still around) that was running 24/7. We’ve even found a few AC systems where the heat strips were running at the same time as the AC.
While these situations aren’t typical, it just goes to show how an energy audit can help you know what you may not know. At the very least, audits can serve as a starting place for members wanting to live a more energy-efficient lifestyle or who are looking for no-cost, low-cost and planned-cost ways to save energy. Energy audits are one more service we offer and best of all, they’re free. For more information, call a Member Services Advisor at 800.223.4832.
What’s in Your Attic?
You may be surprised at what an inspection might turn up. We’ll measure the R-Value of your insulation and check it to make sure it’s not crushed, sagging, or missing. Insulation serves as a barrier to keep your conditioned air where it’s supposed to be and not leaking into your unconditioned attic. If the R-Value of your insulation is R-19 or less, you may qualify for a rebate to upgrade your insulation to at least an R-38, which is just under the Department of Energy’s recommendation of R-30 to R-60 for attics in our area. Although retrofitting an older home with additional insulation will never make it as efficient as a new home, this upgrade can make a noticeable difference. By the way, if you have an attic trap door inside your home, it needs to be insulated, too.
AUDITS CAN SERVE AS A STARTING PLACE FOR MEMBERS WANTING TO LIVE A MORE ENERGY-EFFICIENT LIFESTYLE OR WHO ARE LOOKING FOR NO-COST, LOW-COST AND PLANNED-COST WAYS TO SAVE ENERGY.
Worth a Thousand Words
When we have a particularly tough problem to solve during an energy audit, we pull out the IR (Infrared) camera to help. It can see what we can’t: temperature differences which can indicate there is an air leak of some sort, inadequate insulation, or maybe something a little more serious. Although it’s only natural for heat to flow from warmer to cooler spaces, and vice versa, it’s important to stop this air flow for greater energy efficiency.
Leaving laptops on and chargers plugged in are two common energy wasters. They also create additional heat in a room, similar to ceiling fan motors and lights if they’re left on when no longer needed.
Look how a hot roof can heat up the attic. The trend of insulated roof decks in newer homes helps keep attics more temperate for lower energy bills.
Weatherstripping would be a low-cost solution to keep air from leaking in between this front door and frame. If you added up all the leaks, holes and gaps in a typical home, it would be like leaving a window open all year long.
Ceiling fans don’t cool the air; they circulate the air, which cools the moisture on our bodies. If you’re not there to enjoy the breeze, turn fans off as a no-cost way to save energy.
Sneaky Energy Wasters You’ll Never Miss
Habits, lifestyles and the things we do in our home affect energy consumption, too, which is why we look for other culprits that might affect higher usage. Did you know that in the typical home, appliances and electronics consume about 20 percent of the energy used; heating and cooling account for about 50 percent; water heaters account for nearly 20 percent; and lighting around 10 percent?
How many refrigerators/freezers do you have in your home, garage and shop? If they’re in an unconditioned environment, aren’t full, have a leaky gasket, or are 10 years or older, they’re guzzling energy.
Do you think changing your AC filter is a waste of money? In addition to protecting your coil from potential damage, you can lower your AC’s energy consumption by 5 to 15 percent by replacing a dirty, clogged filter with a clean one.
What kind of light bulbs are you using? Newer technology bulbs like LEDs are still a bit pricey, but are coming down in cost. We can help you determine which bulbs should be changed out and which ones to leave alone.
DVR and DVD players, gaming consoles, standby coffee makers with lights, instant-on devices that use remotes like TVs—these electronics continue to draw power even when they’re turned off or idle. This waste costs households nearly $100 to $200 a year, and nearly $10 billion a year in America as a whole.