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Considering an energy audit? Get informed.

An energy audit is a good idea for your pocketbook as well as the planet, since overconsumption of energy is a problem that plagues many of us.

A home energy audit or assessment investigates just how much energy a home consumes so homeowners can make their homes more energy efficient. Audits identify where energy is being wasted and can offer suggestions to fix the problem.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average U.S. household consumes around 90 million BTUs in a year. In homes, nearly half of that goes to heating and cooling. Water heating, appliances, electronics, and lighting account for the rest.

Consumers can save between 5% and 30% on home energy bills by getting a home energy audit and making the adjustments advised by auditors.

There are two types of energy audits: professional and do-it-yourself. Professional auditors will go room-to-room to assess a home's energy use. Typical testing includes thermographic scans and infrared cameras to determine where there is air leakage and insulation; a blower door test, which depressurizes the home and simulates the effect of a 20 mph wind to find air leaks; and watt meter measurements to test energy usage by various devices throughout the house.

Before an auditor comes to the house, make a list of problems or concerns you already know about. And be prepared for an interview -- the auditor may want to know how the home normally runs so he or she can analyze energy bills to determine typical energy consumption.

Windows, doors, HVAC systems, insulation, fireplaces, and lighting fixtures all may be assessed during a professional audit.

A professional audit is usually the best way to determine where a home is losing energy, homeowners also can conduct their own audits to detect and fix problems. Locating and sealing air leaks, addressing inadequate ventilation, checking that insulation levels and vapor barriers are at recommended levels, and inspecting HVAC systems should be part of any DIY audit.

If a heating/cooling unit is more than 15 years old, the DOE suggests having it replaced with a newer, energy-efficient unit.

Upgrading to new appliances, replacing light bulbs, sealing drafts, improving insulation and addressing moisture and water leaks are both good for the environment and the home dwellers.

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Publication:Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)
Date:Sep 25, 2019
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