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If your energy bills have been steadily climbing, the problem may not lie with your energy company. Your Huntsville home may be wasting more energy than you realize.
How can you find out if your home is lacking in energy efficiency? A DIY home energy audit! Today our home improvement experts will show you how to evaluate five key areas of your home for energy efficiency and how to correct any shortcomings you find.
Before we get started, let’s talk about what a home energy audit is.
A home energy audit or assessment helps you understand what could be causing higher energy consumption, which is also likely costing you money every month.
Fixing the issues you uncover in an energy audit often lowers your monthly energy bills and keeps your home’s temperatures more comfortable year round.
You can improve your Huntsville home’s energy efficiency in a number of ways, but here are four of the most common areas where homes waste energy and how to fix these problems.
If you have an older home, you likely have single-pane windows. This type of window is not insulated, so they do not help regulate the temperatures in your home. As you may have guessed, this causes your HVAC system to work harder, resulting in higher energy consumption and higher energy bills.
How to Fix it: Upgrade to double-pane windows. These windows have multiple panes of glass with an insulator between each pane for increased energy efficiency. Window World windows are equipped with argon gas insulation, weatherstripping, and vinyl window frames for superior energy efficiency.
The first step in your home energy audit is checking for drafts, or air leaks. This is one of the most common reasons for higher energy bills and inconsistent interior temperatures, especially in areas with hot and humid summers like Huntsville.
Air leaks mean your HVAC unit is working harder than it needs to in order to keep your home comfortable. This is because the air from outside is coming into your home and the air your HVAC unit is working hard to heat or cool is leaking out. Air leaks can happen anywhere two different building materials meet or home opens to the outdoors, such as windows, doors, and fireplaces.
Checking for air leaks starts with a visual inspection of the interior and exterior of your home. If you find gaps or holes that are visible to the naked eye, they should be caulked or sealed immediately. If you don’t see any, this doesn’t mean you’re in the clear, though. Sometimes air leaks aren’t visible.
To find more inconspicuous leaks, hold your hand near the seams of your windows, doors, or near your fireplace damper. Don’t forget to feel along the bottom of any exterior doors! If you feel airflow, you have a draft.
If you’re not exactly sure if the air you feel is coming from the window or door, try the candle test: turn off any fans and be sure air or heat isn’t blowing near the window. Stand inside near your window or door, light a candle and carefully hold it or place it on a table near one of your window’s seams (making sure you’re away from curtains and blinds). If the flame stays upright, your windows are secure and there is no draft. If the flame bends toward or away from the window, you have an air leak.
How to Fix It: If you have Window World products, contact us. Your products may be covered by our lifetime warranty. For non-Window World products, apply weatherstripping and caulking to take care of your drafts.
Your windows and any air leaks impact how well your HVAC system works, but it’s important to check in on your HVAC system itself. Heating and cooling often makes up the majority of our energy bills, so making sure your system is in tip-top shape can save you money and keep you more comfortable.
How to Fix It: Make sure you get an annual inspection and tune up to ensure your system is working properly. Year round, keep your filter(s) clean and be sure to keep debris like leaves and weeds out of your condenser.
Although lighting typically accounts for a small percentage of your energy bill, the savings from switching to energy-efficient lightbulbs can really add up over time. It’s also one of the easiest things to check off on your DIY home energy audit!
How to Fix It: Change your light bulbs to compact fluorescents, LEDs, or energy-saving incandescents. You can also add features like dimmer switches and timers to control light usage. Some energy companies offer incentives for purchasing energy-efficient bulbs, so be sure to see if this is something your utility company offers.
Energy vampires (yes, vampires!) are appliances or devices that suck up energy, even when they’re not in use or turned off. The most common energy vampires are electronics like computers, TVs, and modems, but anything with a digital clock or indicator light (like your DVR, cable box, or coffee maker) may be consuming energy even when turned off.
How to Fix it: Use power strips so that you can easily cut off power to several devices with just the flip of a switch. Kill A Watt detectors show exactly how much power a device is using when it’s off, letting you see which devices are consuming the most energy.