Now more than ever, it is imperative that you be proactive about keeping your home energy efficient. If you do not keep an eye on this area, then you might be spending more money than you need be, as well as negatively impacting the environment with unnecessary energy use.
If you are looking to rein in that unnecessary outlay, then it is crucial that you perform a home energy audit so you can figure out where you are hemorrhaging energy efficiency and increasing monthly utility bills.
Energy Costs Impact on Budgets
According to the American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy, 48 percent of households in the United States have incomes of below $50,000. Those same households spend an estimated 17 percent of their after-tax income on transportation and residential energy. With this figure in mind, it is imperative for families to tighten up on their home energy spending.
Low-income households are often very negatively impacted by high energy bills. 2011 survey results of these households by the National Energy Assistance Directors indicated:
- 37 percent went without dental or medical care.
- 34 percent did not fill a prescription or took less that their prescribed full dose.
- 24 percent went hungry for a day or more.
- 19 percent became sick due to their house being too cold.
High energy prices are a problem area for household budgets and are obviously a real issue for Americans today. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Energy report indicated that in 2016, American households are projected to spend on average $2,256 on residential energy, with electricity being the main residential energy source.
For low, and even medium to high-income families, this is a significant amount of money, so it is crucial to find out where you can find savings.
Energy Audit Step-by-Step
If you are looking to save money on your home energy bills, it is important to perform a home energy audit.
Step 1: Find air leaks.
One of the biggest causes of energy wastage in your home is air leaks, and they are relatively easy to spot:
- Close all windows, fireplace flues, and exterior doors, leaving interior doors open.
- Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside, such as stove vents, bathroom fans, and clothes dryers.
- Light an incense stick, and hold it near common leak sites such as vents, attic hatches, window and door frames, and electrical outlets.
If the smoke from the incense stick wavers, you have a draft and need to seal it.
Step 2: Check your ceiling insulation.
The first thing you need to know regarding your ceiling insulation is the current recommendation for the amount of insulation for homes in your area, as well as how much insulation you already have.
If you do not have enough insulation, you are likely to be losing energy and need to get on top of that.
To check your wall insulation, you can rent an infrared thermometer from a tool rental company.
Step 3: Check your windows.
If your home has many windows, it could be losing heat. If your windows have stickers that say NFRC (National Fenestration Rating Council), you will be easily able to check their energy efficiency, as it will be printed on the sticker.
On the other hand, if you have no stickers on your windows, look at whether the window panes are single or double. Double panes are best as they trap heat more efficiently than single panes, so you might want to consider either fitting double paned windows or installing extra insulation to help retain heat during the winter months.
Step 4: Find where you are hemorrhaging energy.
If you have lots of electronic appliances in your home and keep them on standby, or even plugged in, they may be using excess power. For this reason, it is best practice to switch off and unplug all appliances when you are finished using them.
Once you have completed the steps above, you should have a good idea of how energy efficient your home is, and be able to pinpoint areas that need improvement. Once you have made your improvements, keep a close eye on your energy bills to see where savings have been made.
Through performing a home energy audit, you can save money, as well as help to save the planet.