No matter the age of your home, it could benefit from an energy audit. West Florida Electric offers free home energy audits conducted by an energy advisor, but you can get started on your own by identifying your home’s issues and implementing low-cost solutions that could save you money on your monthly electric bill.
There are five areas you should focus your attention when conducting a do-it-yourself (DIY) energy audit: air leaks, insulation, heating & cooling, water heating and appliances & lighting.
Find & Fix Air Leaks
Begin by walking around and making a list of all the places where leaks could occur. Outside your home,
you should inspect all areas where two different building materials meet. Pay particular attention to gaps where the foundation meets walls. Inspect all exterior corners where siding and chimneys meet and areas
where foundations and exterior bricks or siding meet. Plug and caulk holes or penetrations for faucets, pipes, electrical outlets and wiring. Look for cracks and holes in the mortar, foundation, and siding and seal them with the appropriate material. 87488001
Another place you should check for air leaks is along baseboards or the edges of flooring and where walls meet ceilings. See if air flows through electrical outlets, switch plates, window frames, baseboards, weather-stripping around doors, fireplace dampers and attic hatches. Make sure you also check windows and doors
for air leaks. Can you rattle them? Movement means possible air leaks. If you see daylight around door and window frames, then the door or window leaks. Seal these leaks by caulking or weather-stripping. Consider replacing old windows and doors with newer, high-performance ones. If that is too costly, install low-cost
plastic sheets over windows instead.
A creative way to find leaks is to pressurize your home using fans then walk around and feel for air leaks. They’ll identify themselves if you place your hand over areas where you suspect leaks. Placing a little moisture on your hand intensifies the effect, making it even easier to find them.
Check Insulation Levels
See if the level of attic and wall insulation is at least the minimum recommended amount. Checking a wall’s
insulation level may be tricky. Peek into them by removing the faceplate from an elecrical outlet. Select an exterior wall and turn off the circuit breakers, then test the outlets by plugging something in to make certain they are not "hot." Next, gently probe into the wall with a stick or screwdriver. If you encounter some resistance, you have some insulation there. You could make a small hole in a closet, behind a couch or in some other unobtrusive place to see what is in the wall cavity. Exterior walls should be totally filled with some form of insulation.
Take a look at the system that keeps your home comfortable. Heating and cooling equipment are probably the largest energy consumers. Check your air filters and replace them as needed. They should be changed once each month. If your unit is more than 15-years-old, consider replacing it with a newer, more efficient unit. Inspect duct work for dirt streaks, especially near seams. These indicate air leaks and should be sealed. Make a note to insulate ducts or pipes that travel through unheated spaces.
Water heaters are the second largest energy user, so it is worth taking time to investigate them. Check the
temperature settings and keep them set as low as possible. Place your hand on the tank to see if it is warm
to the touch. If it is, it may be a candidate for an insulating blanket, especially if located in an unconditioned space. 18369005
Appliances & Lighting
Check the door seals, temperature settings and for good air flow across the coils of your refrigerators and freezers. If you have an old refrigerator stored in the garage, consider getting rid of it. Old units are huge energy wasters.
Lighting can make up 6-7 percent of your electric bill. It is best to replace bulbs with CFLs or LEDs and keep them off when not needed. When considering a new appliance purchase, look for the most efficient models.
If you conduct a DIY audit and implement some of the changes recommended above, but are still experiencing problems or higher than usual electric bills, you may have another problem. Consider consulting our energy expert at WFEC for a free energy audit of your home. Professional energy audits include a walk-around and walk-through of your home to identify problems. Auditors will do a room-by-room examination and investigation of past utility bills. To schedule a professional energy audit, contact us at (800) 342-7400.