February 16, 2009

Home Energy Audit – Do it Yourself








You may have heard about Home Energy Audits. You hire someone to come out to your house and evaluate how much energy you are using now, what steps you could take to save energy, how much those steps will cost you, and finally how much money and energy you could save by making the recommended changes.

I found a helpfulwebsite, energysavers.gov, operated by the U.S. Dept. of Energy that allows you to do much of that for yourself. I completed the survey in about a half hour and the site gave me specific recommendations, the estimated cost savings and the return on my investment. It will even calculate your home’s carbon footprint. Mine contributes 31,467 lbs of CO2 per year – ugh!

My house was built in 1984 and the furnace, hot water heater and kitchen appliances are all original, so that is where I could see substantial savings. For example, if I were to replace my dishwasher with an energy star rated one, I would pay about $30 extra for that dishwasher compared to a non energy star appliance, but I would re-coup those savings in 3 years – not bad. I would prefer to keep my existing appliances until they die, but, given their age, that probably won’t be long.

Some other inexpensive changes also pay off big. The biggest is switching to a programmable thermostat (and actually programming it). My audit showed a 667% return on that investment. Adding insulation to the ducts in my attic would give me a 172% return and the super easy addition of compact flourescent light bulbs (CFL’s), yields a 107% return. They calculate the return as the amount of money saved over the lifetime of that upgrade. One catch – the savings are compared to buying a non-energy efficient upgrade, not $ saved compared to keeping your old stuff.

I also could use improved air sealing (ie. weatherstripping, caulk etc). For the sake of my border collie, Star, I am not willing to give up our dog door even though that is a huge, gaping air leak.

The site also tells you how to find a certified home energy rater if you want to go the professional route plus lots more energy saving tips.

I have already swapped out my light bulbs for CFL’s, I lower my thermostat manually and plan to replace my appliances as they die out with energy star ones. When the furnace goes someday, I will definitely spring for the 90% efficient new one too. In the meantime, I am off to McGuckins for some caulk and one of those stuffed snake shaped door draft stoppers.

blog by elephant’s realtor – Liz Benson

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