Take the first step towards going green and cutting down on your energy consumption by conducting a home energy audit! An audit can help you determine how much energy your home uses, where it's losing energy and how to prevent it.
While professional audits provide a more thorough assessment, you can conduct your own quick and easy walk-through to spot areas around your home that could use some improvement.
1. Look for indoor air leaks
Don't waste energy heating and cooling air inside your home just to have it leak outside. Inspect along your baseboards, window frames and doorframes for any gaps or large cracks where air can escape. During winter months, these are areas where you'll feel a draft. These can be fixed by installing weatherstripping or caulking to fill the gaps.
Other more inconspicuous areas for air leakage include electrical outlets, wall or ceiling-mounted light fixtures and open fireplace dampers. These areas can be safely repaired by contacting maintenance professionals.
2. Inspect heating and cooling equipment
Did you know that heating accounts for roughly 62% of your total home energy use? Making sure that your heating and cooling equipment is efficient is key to keeping your consumption down.
Start by checking your air conditioner and furnace filters and replacing them if they look worn or clogged. Filters should be swapped out once every month or two to keep the equipment operating at its best. Next, inspect the equipment's ductwork for streaks of dirt, especially near seams as these can indicate air leaks that need to be sealed. Have a professional clean your equipment once a year and perform repairs when/if they arise.
If your air conditioner and furnace are more than 15 years old it could be time to replace them with more efficient ENERGY STAR certified models.
3. Check your lightbulbs
While remembering to switch off the lights before leaving the house helps to reduce your home energy consumption, using energy efficient lightbulbs will have a much larger impact over time.
Examine the bulbs around your house to see if they're halogen or compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). These types of bulbs are much less efficient than light emitting diodes (LEDs). In fact, ENERGY STAR-qualified LEDs use 20-30% of the energy and last approximately 25 times longer than halogen bulbs and CFLs.
4. Find and slay "energy vampires"
While idle electronics and appliances waste less energy than air leaks or an inefficient furnace, eliminating them is an easy way to save energy. Standby power is electricity that's used even when an electronic is switched off.
Take inventory of the electronics and appliances around your home and if you don't frequently use an item, consider keeping it unplugged or plugged into a power strip with other occasional electronics that can easily be turned on or off. The usual suspects include gaming consoles, AV receivers, laptop charger cables, printers and coffee makers.
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Sources: City of Edmonton, US Department of Energy
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