December 1999 Edition

What Is An Energy Audit 

Our utility bills keep increasing each year. Is there a way to do an energy audit on our home to lower our monthly bills? 
Did you know that the average U.S. family spends over $1300 a year on their home's utility bills? Unfortunately, a large portion of that energy is wasted. The amount of energy wasted just through poorly insulated windows and doors is about as much energy as we get from the Alaskan pipeline each year and electricity generated by fossil fuels for a single home puts more carbon dioxide into the air than the average car. By using a few inexpensive energy-efficient measures, you can reduce your energy bills by 10% to 50% and, at the same time, help reduce air pollution.
Audit                       
The key to achieving these savings is a whole-house energy efficiency plan. To take a whole-house approach, view your home as an energy system with interdependent parts. For example, your heating system is not just a furnace – it's a heat-delivery system that starts at the furnace and delivers heat throughout your home using a network of ducts. You may have a top-of-the-line, energy-efficient furnace, but if the ducts leak and are uninsulated, and your walls, attic, windows, and doors are uninsulated, your energy bills will remain high. Taking a whole-house approach to saving energy ensures that dollars you invest in energy efficiency are wisely spent.                        
Energy-efficient improvements not only make your home more comfortable, they can yield long-term financial rewards. Reduced operating costs more than make up for the higher price of energy-efficient appliances and improvements over their lifetimes. Improvements may also qualify you for an energy efficiency mortgage, which allows lenders to use a higher-than-normal debt-to-income ratio to calculate loan potential. In addition, your home will likely have a higher resale value.                        
This information shows you how easy it is to reduce your home energy use. It is a guide to easy, practical solutions for saving energy throughout your home, from the insulating system that surrounds it to the appliances and lights inside. Please, take a few moments to read the valuable tips in this article that will save you energy and money and, in many cases, help the environment by reducing pollution and conserving our natural resources.  
Do It Yourself Energy Audit  
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 show you where these are and suggest the most effective measures for reducing 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.  
How We Use Energy In Our Homes  
The largest portion of a utility bill for a typical house is for heating and cooling.  
Energy Auditing Tips  
  • Check the level of insulation in your exterior and basement walls, ceilings, attic, floors, and crawl spaces.
  • 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.
  • Study your family's lighting needs and use patterns, paying special attention to high-use areas such as the living room, kitchen, and exterior lighting. Look for ways to use daylighting, reduce the time the lights are on, and replace incandescent bulbs and fixtures with compact fluorescent lamps or standard fluorescent lamps.
  • Formulating Your Plan
  • After you have identified places where your home is losing energy, assign priorities to your energy needs 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 savings?
    • 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?
Once you assign priorities to your energy needs, you can form a whole-house efficiency plan. Your plan will provide you with a strategy for making smart purchases and home improvements that maximize energy efficiency and save the most money.  
Another option is to get the advice of a professional. Many utilities conduct energy audits for free or for a nominal charge. For a fee, a professional contractor will analyze how your home's energy systems work together as a system and compare the analysis against your utility bills. He or she will use a variety of equipment such as blower doors, infrared cameras, and surface thermometers to find inefficiencies that cannot be detected by a visual inspection. Finally, they will give you a list of recommendations for cost-effective energy improvements and enhanced comfort and safety.
When searching for a contractor, you should:  
  • Start with a referral from a friend
  • Look in the Yellow Pages
  • Focus on local companies
  • Look for a licensed and insured contractor
  • Get three bids with details in writing
  • Ask about previous experience
  • Check references
  • Inquire with the Better Business Bureau
Source: DoItYourself.com
http://www.doityourself.com/energy/efficiencyaudit.htm 

If you have a question, change of address, comment, home tip or would like to send Home Tips to your clients, send your letter to Home Tips, Christian Building Inspectors, Inc., 3697 Habersham Lane, Duluth, Georgia 30096. You can E-Mail your questions to us at rodharrison@christianbuildinginspectors.com. We reserve the right to edit questions for length. 


Quote Of The Month

“Politics is perhaps the only profession for which no preparation is thought necessary”

- Robert Louis Stevenson 


A Tip Of The Hat To:

All The People

That Referred Us

In 1999 


Christmas