5 Essential Steps for Improving Energy Efficiency in Your Home
You know the benefits of energy efficiency for both your wallet and the environment, but you’re not sure where to start. You’re not alone. There’s a dizzying array of options for lowering energy use in your Raleigh home. If you don’t know what to do first, these steps will put you on the right path.
Get a Home Energy Audit
The first step to minimizing your energy expenses is figuring out where your dollars are going. A home energy audit is the most efficient way to evaluate your home for energy drains. During a professional inspection, a technician will inspect your home room-by-room to look for sources of energy loss. They often use specialized equipment like blower doors, surface thermometers, and furnace efficiency meters.
The technician will interview you about your family and their habits. Understanding the way you manage comfort in your home will give your auditor valuable information about how you use energy. Your audit may reveal air leaks in your building envelope that you never realized were there. Following up on the recommendations in your home energy audit can help you save five to 30 percent on your energy bill.
Check the Efficiency of Your Appliances
Check the efficiency ratings on your major appliances to determine how much energy you could save with an upgrade. Your heating and cooling system typically accounts for 43 percent of your energy bill. If your HVAC system is more than ten years old, it’s probably time for an upgrade. It’s easy to lose track of time and misjudge the age of your appliances. Take the time now to gather some essential information on these units, including:
- Efficiency rating
- Whether the product is Energy Star certified
Simply upgrading to an Energy Star appliance can make a big difference if your current installations do not have this certification. You can improve energy efficiency by 15 percent with an Energy Star seal on your air conditioner alone.
Schedule Regular Maintenance
Schedule a regular maintenance visit for your HVAC system if you haven’t had one in the last six months. Going forward, mark your calendar for a maintenance checkup in the fall before you turn on your heat for the first time and in the spring before you turn to air conditioning. These visits will help keep your system in top shape and ensure that it’s operating at peak efficiency.
Determine Your Budget
Look over your finances and figure out how much you can spend on energy-efficient upgrades. There are improvements that you can make on nearly any budget. Taking a good look at your bank account will let you know whether you’re looking for small DIY fixes or a major upgrade such as a new air conditioner or programmable thermostat.
Create an Efficiency Plan
Make a list of all the energy upgrades you want to make to your home. Put them in the order of importance and try to alternate big tasks with smaller additions so you’re checking something off your list every few months and don’t lose your momentum. Make sure you consider your aging appliances as you set out a plan for the next few years. You may not need a new HVAC system now, but if you know this upgrade is coming up in the next couple years, you can begin to budget for it now.
There are plenty of actions you can take to improve energy efficiency in your home. For a low-cost project, try:
- Gradually adjusting your thermostat to warmer temperatures in summer and cooler temperatures in winter. Make small changes so you can acclimate to new temperatures if you’ve been heating and cooling to extremes.
- Sealing your doors and windows.
- Plugging lights and small appliances into power strips and turning them off when not in use.
If you have more money to invest in your upgrades, you can:
- Seal and insulate your ducts.
- Buy a programmable thermostat.
- Install new windows.
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