Results from the energy audit can direct you to the changes that would be most appropriate to improve the energy efficiency, or “tightness,” of your home.
Before you purchase an energy-related product or system, though, you should answer some important questions.
What are your budgetary limits? Which areas are causing your greatest energy losses? How long can you wait for the investment to pay for itself in energy savings? How much time and money are you willing to spend on maintenance and repair? Are you investing solely to save on energy bills or are other factors also important?
Many options that improve energy efficiency are available. Although installing caulk, weatherstripping, and insulation may not be as exciting or impressive as a ground-source heat pump, such energy efficiency measures are very often cost effective. Indeed, if you decide to install a heating or cooling system, you should first ensure that your home is properly weatherized. Using energy efficiently reduces demands for heating, cooling, and electricity, thereby allowing a smaller, less expensive system to be used.
Because of the high percentage of your energy bill that goes toward conditioning the air in your home, detecting heat losses and gains is a great place to start when deciding what measures may improve the energy efficiency of your home. Leaky windows and doors, open fireplace dampers, poorly insulated attics and walls, and cracks and holes in the walls and ceiling are all areas where heat can escape in the winter and enter in the summer. Heat can also escape through light fixtures and switches, electrical outlets, and leaky ducts.
Appliances and equipment can also have a tremendous effect on your energy costs. Hot water heaters, stoves, refrigerators, dish- washers, and clothes dryers can contribute to excessively high energy bills when they operate inefficiently. Poorly sized and inefficient heating and cooling systems can lead to high costs for space conditioning.
When you decide to implement energy efficiency measures, you can determine the most appropriate product or system by investigating the options. The energy efficiency projects addressed here are divided into two categories— weatherization projects and energy-efficient appliances.