By Jack Edwards, REALTOR, Coldwell Banker
Have you ever conducted a “Home Energy Audit” on your home? It could save you a lot of money by lowering energy costs. A home energy audit evaluates how much energy your home uses. Though a professional audit is a good idea, here’s how you can conduct a personal walk-through assessment of your own to help cut costs.
- Seek out air leaks or drafts. Look for gaps along baseboards, on the edge of flooring, around outlets and switches, and where walls meet the ceiling. Anywhere two different building materials meet is a potential place for leakage. If there are cracks or holes, seal them (depending on where they are, use caulk or weatherstripping. You can search energy.gov for those products to learn how to use them).
- Evaluate insulation. Insufficient insulation contributes to heat loss, especially in older homes, but it’s inexpensive to fix. Find out how much insulation is recommended for homes in your area, then go into your attic and measure the depth of your home’s insulation. To measure insulation in the walls, you’ll need an infrared thermometer, which can usually be rented from stores like Home Depot or Lowe’s.
- Assess heating and cooling features. Furnaces, air conditioners, and other similar features should be inspected annually or as recommended by the manufacturer. Check and replace filters as needed, and make a note to keep them cleaned and changed on a regular basis (usually monthly).
- Identify energy-sucking appliances and electronics. Even if you aren’t using them, anything that is plugged in to an outlet may be consuming standby power. Common culprits include office equipment like printers and kitchen appliances such as coffee makers. Unplug these items when they aren’t in use, or plug them into a power strip that can be turned off.
Do you leave your computer plugged in and turned on all the time so that it is ready to go when you want to check something? How much energy is it using, just sitting there all night waiting for you?
You can track how much energy your appliances and computers are using by buying a simple device and plugging your appliance or computer into it. It is called a Kill a Watt meter. You can get one online through Amazon or at Sam’s Club. Track the number of watts it is using then look at your electric bill to calculate the cost.
* Check your electric company’s pricing levels. Most utilities charge a base rate for part of your monthly usage and a higher rate, called Base-Plus Usage. It can be 2 times more expensive. Cut what you can to reduce your usage to the lower rate level.
We are under SMUD, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. They have two levels of rates. Customers under PGE, have three levels of rates.
In the summer, our Base Usage rate is about 12 cents per kWh and about 20 cents per kWh for Base-Plus Usage. In the winter, the rates are about 11 cents for Base Usage and 19 cents for Base-Plus Usage.
Once you have done what you can do to reduce your energy demands and still want to save more, consider solar. We did and we are really happy with our decision. Let me know if you want to know more about going solar. I will be happy to recommend our local service provider to you.
If you’re planning to buy a home in the next 6 months, you’ll want a copy of my Free consumer guide, “7 Secrets For Saving Thousands When Financing Your Next Home.” My report will help you avoid frustrations and costly pitfalls when buying a home. Simply call or email me to get a free copy at 916-240-9302.