With any home there are always general maintenance and upkeep routines that need to be performed to ensure all key aspects of your home are functioning properly and limit potential expensive repairs down the road. Completing an energy consumption audit, however is not something many home owners have on there to do lists. An annual energy audit of your home will help you pin point potential trouble areas that may lead to an increase in your energy bills. Even though there are professional home energy auditors that can come into your home and complete a full assessment, you can conduct a simple audit yourself and spot many of the potential issues.
A prime location for potential energy saving is around your windows and doors. Air leaks and drafts force your HVAC system to work harder to warm your home in the winter and cool it down in the summer. Sealing up these drafts will also make your home more comfortable as you eliminate any cold/hot areas. Fixing the drafts may be as simple as a new bead of caulking on the outside, or perhaps some expanding foam insulation to fill in gaps around the window and door frames. If your frames are warped or misshapen you may need to look into replacement options.
Inspecting your furnace filter on a monthly basis is a good routine to get into. On average you should be replacing your filter every 2-3 months and perhaps monthly during peak usage periods. Your filter removes large particles from the air, as the particles begin to build up it makes it harder for air to pass through causing your furnace to run longer to warm up your home. Clean air filters will allow for a more efficient operation of your furnace.
Investing in a smart thermostat will most certainly help you save on your energy bills. These thermostats are programmable and automate the heating and cooling of your home. Most smart thermostats have their own app that allow you to control your system even if you are away. So, next time you go away on vacation and forget to turn down the thermostat, it’s not a problem as the controls are right on your smartphone.
Replace any old incandescent light bulbs with energy efficient CFL or LED bulbs. A CFL or LED bulb may cost 4-10 times as much as an incandescent bulb initially, but significant savings will be realized over time, as these bulbs last 10-times longer and use roughly 1/3 of the energy. An average CFL bulb will cost $25 over its lifetime of 10,000 hours where an incandescent bulb has a life span of 1,000 hours, so the cost of 10 bulbs plus the added energy consumption will be roughly $80 for the same 10,000 hours. At times the government will run savings programs for energy efficient upgrades, which include light bulbs. If you purchase your bulbs at a time were this program is running, the savings will be even greater.
Your home’s insulation plays a big role in how energy efficient your home is. The insulation will slow the rate that heat escapes your home in the winter and will also slow the rate that heat enters your home in the summer. It may be difficult to assess how well insulated your main living areas of your home are, as these areas are finished. Ensuring your attic and basement are well insulated will make a big difference in your energy consumption. The higher your insulation’s R-Value the more resistant it is to heat transfer, for attics it is suggested to use between 10-14 inches of R-38 insulation.
Completing your home energy audit annually and addressing any issues immediately can save you anywhere from 10%-30% on your energy bills. With energy costs ever increasing, your annual savings will be well worth the effort.