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Saturday, July 28, 2012

Commonly asked questions about an energy audit and energy saving

An energy audit is the process of walking through your home and taking note of your home's energy usage. Every single home loses energy. But with the power of a simple energy audit, you can save energy by limiting your home's energy loss.

Here are some commonly asked questions and answers about home energy audits and how they can save energy.

What is an energy audit exactly?
You do an energy audit when you walk around your home, paying attention to energy usage and possible places where energy is lost. A professional energy audit, typically done by a contractor or trained energy professional, looks at heat loss through imaging and other techniques that "see" heat loss and energy gaps. It is entirely possible to take note of energy usage through a simple energy audit. When you add the numbers up, you'll exactly where you can save on energy.

How long does it take to do an energy audit?
The first time you do the audit, it will take a couple of hours at least – depending on your home's size and how much you have in it. You will find areas of energy usage you weren't aware of previously. Future energy saving audits will take a little less time – because you're already aware of the "hidden" areas.

How often should I do an energy audit?
At least once per year, although I would definitely do an energy audit twice per year. The best times to do an audit are spring and summer – before the warm months of summer and coldest months of winter. This is usually when most homeowners see a spike in their energy costs.

How much can I save with an energy audit?
The amount varies by home and location. By doing an energy audit yourself, you are probably saving around $100 to $200 in savings because you're not paying someone to conduct the audit. This is on top of the 15-40% savings in energy costs that many people realize when actually finding and reducing energy usage.

What's the best room to start in?
It doesn't matter, though I prefer to start in the basement. There is a lot going on in the basement that gets my mind thinking about energy! There's the ducts, vents, registers, furnace, washer, dryer, lights, hot water heater, sump pump, etc. All these items have an energy related cost to them. If you don't have a basement or prefer to start elsewhere, go to the kitchen.

What's the best way to test for drafts around windows?
A thin single ply tissue or flame from a candle. These react readily to changes in air flow, which is what you're testing for. Its best to do this on a breezy day, because more air will leak on those days.

How do I record the results of my audit?
On a simple piece of paper! Label it with the date and room so you can easily compare notes between rooms, and between audits conducted at a later date. (So its best to use one piece of paper per room!)

How is an energy audit 100% effective?
Because an energy audit looks at your home's energy usage and your energy habits, it will put, in black and white, your home's energy patterns and energy problems. Once you know where the problems are, you can put forth an energy savings plan that will work for your home because it "attacks" the energy problems that are specific to your home. Look, if I told every homeowner in America to replace their windows because it will save energy would you believe me? Of course not. Some windows are fine. But some homes might need new windows…an energy audit will tell you what you need to do to save energy in your home.


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