As temperatures begin to drop and your energy focus turns from cooling your home to heating it, consider using this time to increase energy efficiency and cost savings for the colder months ahead. Whether your home is old or new, chances are you are spending more on energy costs than necessary. Your meter only reads the energy that was used in a cycle, and energy that was used translated to dollars. Egyptian Electric Cooperative will be offering two options for energy audits. Based on the feedback from our auditors, or yourself, prioritize actions that you can take based on your time and budget, weighing where you can get the most impact for your investment. Increasing your home’s energy efficiency will make your family comfortable while saving you money.
Walk-thru Energy Evaluation
The first option will be a ‘walkthrough’ energy audit. The walkthrough audit is basically as it sounds; the auditor will walk through the home looking at attic insulation levels, foundation insulation, wall insulation and the heating and cooling system. As there will be no written report, the homeowner will need to be present and ready to take notes. The auditor will discuss any deficiencies they discover and make verbal recommendations to the homeowner. The cost of a walk-through energy audit is $50.00 and will be added to the member’s next bill.
Diagnostic Energy Audit
The second option is a complete diagnostic audit, what the Cooperative has offered in the past. With a diagnostic audit, the auditor will inspect the same things as in a walk-through audit, but will also perform a blower door test, use an infrared camera when temperatures allow (it must be sufficiently cold or warm outside so there is a substantial temperature differential to show up on the camera) and when combustible furnaces or water heaters are present, a Combustible Appliance Zone (CAZ) test to ensure the appliances do not back draft or have too high of carbon monoxide output. The auditor will also check accessible gas lines for leaks. The auditor will take photos of issues identified and provide the homeowner with a detailed audit report with recommendations. The cost of the diagnostic audit is $150.00. Your Cooperative has two employees that are Building Performance Institute (BPI) Certified Professionals. Our goal at Egyptian Electric Cooperative is to provide our members with the expertise they need in making their home more energy efficient, comfortable and healthier while improving building longevity.
Do-It Yourself Evaluation
Armed with some basic knowledge and a little time, you can conduct a baseline energy evaluation of your home to identify where you are losing energy (and money). Use a checklist and take notes on problems you find as you walk through your home. Remember, the audit itself won’t save you money unless you act on your findings. So, where to start? If your home has multiple levels, work from the top down. Begin in your attic or highest floor, and work your way down to the first floor or basement.
1. Insulation and air leaks (drafts) – According to the Department of Energy, improving your home’s insulation and sealing air leaks are the fastest and most cost-effective ways to reduce energy waste and make the most of your energy dollars. Check to see whether there is sufficient insulation in the attic. Are openings containing piping, ductwork and chimney sealed?
2. Electronic devices – Inventory all of the electronic devices you have and how often you use them. Computers, printers, DVD players, phones and gaming consoles are notorious “vampire power” users – they drain energy even when not in use. If items can be turned off without disrupting your lifestyle, consider plugging them into a power strip that can be turned on and off (or put on a timer).
3. Lighting – Note where you still have incandescent lights. Can you replace them with CFL or LED upgrades? Do you have nightlights? If so, consider replacing them with LED nightlights. Are there places where you can install motion sensor lights in low use areas, such as a closet, porch or garage?
4. Thermostat/indoor temperature – Do you have a programmable thermostat? When was the last time it was programmed? Is the date and time correct? If they are not, this could throw off the automatic settings. (Editorial note: This article is intended for fall publications. Please edit the following copy if you plan to use during the summer months.) Is it set so the temperature is lower during the day and/or times when no one is home and at night when people are sleeping? Consider lowering the temperature a few degrees.
5. Appliances and cleaning – Appliances are large energy users, and if yours are more than 10 years old, they are likely not as energy efficient as today’s options. How and when you use them also make a difference. Do you wash your clothes in hot water, or can you use cold water instead? Do you use your washer, dryer or dishwasher during the day? Consider running them at night, during off-peak times. Does your hot water heater have a blanket? If not, consider insulating it. Make sure your dryer vent isn’t blocked – this will not only save energy, it may also prevent a fire.
Building a New Home
We never seem to forget that the cost of owning a car includes the cost of gasoline. But for some reason many of us forget that the cost of owning a home includes more than a mortgage, insurance and taxes — it also includes the energy bills. Making an energy efficient investment in your new home today will mean you’ll have a comfortable, quiet and economical home for life.
The Illinois Electric Cooperatives are pleased to provide the Illinois Touchstone Energy Home guide to Building the Home of your Dreams. This booklet provides lots of great ideas on how to build an energy efficient home that will provide you and your family with a comfortable, affordable and efficient home for many years.
This is the third version of Building the Home of your Dreams. The cooperatives produced two earlier versions, under the Certified Comfort Home label, before updating the current booklet. This booklet meets the requirements of the 2012 International Energy Efficiency Code (IEEC), which has been adopted in the State of Illinois. The electric cooperatives recommend that any new home meet the most up to date IEEC, which is Illinois law.
If you are planning to build a new house in the future, we advise building to the standards in this booklet. In addition, the concepts and ideas referenced in this booklet generally apply to renovation and remodeling projects as well. If in doubt about anything, or have questions involving new home construction, please remember to ALWAYS contact the energy efficiency professionals at your electric cooperative. We’ll be glad to help you successfully build the ENERGY EFFICIENT Home of Your Dreams.