For the past several years there has been more and more attention given to “going green” than at any other time in history. With more tangible data pointing at the negative effects of the greenhouse gases we produce and the real dangers of global warming, there has never been a better time than now to start taking a proactive role in doing something to help our environment.
One of the best ways to get started in helping our environment is to asses exactly where you are right now when it comes to your personal carbon footprint. Knowing where you are now allows you to systematically start finding ways to reduce your carbon footprint. Conducting your own Home or Home Business Energy Audit can actually be quite easy and is an excellent way for you to find areas where you can also begin to save money. Saving money just happens to be another bi-product of reducing energy usage. Let’s take a minute to look at exactly what an energy audit is and find out just how easy it can be to conduct your own.
First of all, just what exactly is an energy audit? An energy audit is an inspection, survey and analysis of energy flows for energy conservation in a building, process or system to reduce the amount of energy input into the system without negatively affecting the output(s). Simply put, an energy audit is a process used to establish how much energy your house or apartment consumes.
With just a bit of information you can easily conduct a preliminary or basic home energy audit all by yourself. With a thorough, yet simple walk-through, anyone can spot many potential problems in almost any type of home. Remember, when auditing your own home, keep a checklist of areas you have inspected and problems you have found. This list will help you prioritize your energy efficiency upgrades.
One of the most commonly found sources of lost energy within the home are air leaks or drafts. The potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home can range from 5% to over 30% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward. Start with windows and doors. Check for indoor leaks, such as gaps along the baseboard or edge of the floor and the joints at the walls and ceilings. Always focus on electrical outlets, switch plates, fireplace dampers, attic hatches, and of course all window frames and the weather striping around exterior doors.
Another major culprit contributing to the heat loss in your home comes from a lack of adequate insulation or in some cases non at all. Heat loss through the ceiling and walls in your home can be very large if the insulation levels are less than the recommended minimum. If your home is more than just 10 years old you will want to conduct a thorough inspection of your attic insulation. Make sure the attic is properly vented as adequate air circulation is a crucial component in the overall efficiency of your homes heating air-conditioning and ventilation system (HVAC).
Inspecting the insulation in your walls can sometimes prove to be a bit more challenging than the attic. There are methods of checking wall insulation, including simply finding obscure locations to simply make a whole in the sheet-rock and examine what’s in the wall. Even doing this is not always accurate. Perhaps the most thorough way to inspect wall insulation is to hire a professional energy audit company to conduct a Thermographic Wall Inspection. This is done using an infrared scanning device which measures the amount heat loss within the wall or other building envelops.
Next, take time to inspect your homes heating and cooling equipment on an annual basis or as recommended by the manufacturer. Check and change furnace and A/C filters regularly. When inspecting your HVAC system, focus on the duct work and all air returns and chases. Again, if your home is more than 15 years old, you may consider replacing your HVAC system with a newer more energy efficient one.
Finally, energy for lighting accounts for about 10% of your homes electric bill. Make sure to examine the wattage size of the light bulbs around your home. Consider where you can reduce the wattage of the light bulbs you are using and as your bulbs burn out, replace them with the new compact-fluorescent lamps (CFL). Especially in areas where lights remain on for hours at a time.
Remember, make sure to check with your local electric utility company. More and more utility companies are offering rebates and incentives for purchasing and using energy-efficient appliances, lamps and devices. For a complete and professional Home or Home Business Energy Audit, check your local yellow pages. By continuing to stay focused on ways to reduce your carbon footprint, you are also finding ways to save money.