by Connie Frederiks
(Dallas, Texas, USA)
The first step to taking a whole house energy efficiency approach is to find out which parts of your house use the most energy.
A home energy audit will pinpoint those areas and suggest the most effective measures for cutting your energy costs.
You can conduct a simple home energy audit yourself, you can contact your local utility, or you can call an independent energy auditor for a more comprehensive examination.
For more information about home energy audits, including free tools and calculators, visit www.energysavers.gov or www.natresnet.org/resources/
Energy Auditing Tips
• Check the insulation levels in your attic, exterior and basement walls, ceilings, floors, and crawl spaces.
Visit www.energysavers.gov for instructions on checking your insulation levels.
• Check for holes or cracks around your walls, ceilings, windows, doors, light and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets that can leak air into or out of your home.
• Check for open fireplace dampers.
• Make sure your appliances and heating and cooling systems are properly maintained.
Check your owner’s manuals for the recommended maintenance.
• Study your family’s lighting needs and use patterns, paying special attention to high-use areas such as the living room, kitchen, and outside lighting.
Look for ways to use lighting controls—like occupancy sensors, dimmers, or timers—to reduce lighting energy use, and replace standard (also called incandescent) light bulbs and fixtures with compact or standard fluorescent lamps.
Formulating Your Plan
After you have identified where your home is losing energy, assign priorities by asking yourself a few important questions:
• How much money do you spend on energy?
• Where are your greatest energy losses?
• How long will it take for an investment in energy efficiency to pay for itself in energy cost savings?
• Do the energy saving measures provide additional benefits that are important to you (for example, increased comfort from installing double-paned, efficient windows)?
• How long do you plan to own your current home?
• Can you do the job yourself or will you need to hire a contractor?
• What is your budget and how much time do you have to spend on maintenance and repair?
Click here to read more about ways to make your home energy efficient