Is Your Home Leaking Money? Schedule an Energy Audit and System Tune-UpPublished on: May 17, 2013
Saving Money Begins at Home
Controlling Home Expenses in Uncertain Times
There’s no getting around the fixed costs of owning a home. Mortgage payments, property taxes, homeowner’s insurance and similar obligations simply must be paid and leave little or no wiggle room for those looking for ways to save money. Most of us – even those who have good jobs and are financially stable for now — understand that employment, healthy retirement savings, affordable medical care and other staples of a secure life are vulnerable to forces beyond our control and have disappeared for many fellow Americans. Homeowners and others are more budget-conscious than ever and have prioritized issues like cutting expenses, paying down debt and increasing savings. The recent recession taught many of us that we’ll be happier and less stressed if we simply tighten our budgets, spend less and focus on simple pleasures like enjoying time with friends and family, perhaps in that comfortable home our hard-earned money is paying for.
Keeping the Home Budget Lean and Green
When the economic outlook improves, is there a tendency for average Americans to become big spenders again and neglect frugal habits? Human nature may certainly trend in that direction. However, that tendency to spend more doesn’t have to become the reality, especially when simple, low-effort ways to save money are readily available throughout good economic times and bad. Homeowners like you may not be able to bring down those big-ticket fixed costs mentioned earlier, but you do have access to other options for lowering expenses. In the case of home energy costs, great opportunities to save money and help the environment at the same time make it easy and satisfying to live leaner at home. Many people are buying more fuel-efficient cars as a buffer against the ever-changing price of gasoline. High energy costs hit home as well, so why not transform yours into a fuel-efficient residence and enjoy another way to keep more money in your own pocket?
Improving Energy Efficiency Brings Savings for Homeowners
Cutting-Edge Expertise Helps Your Wallet and the Planet
Your home may be leaking money in any number of ways. HVAC industry advances in the understanding of how building structures and systems behave over the entire lifespan of your home can translate into big savings and increased living comfort. It’s possible for home energy experts to diagnose inefficiencies and other problems with greater accuracy than ever before and to draw on better available knowledge about how to make a home energy-efficient. The result is that your home will be more environmentally friendly and have a lowered carbon footprint. Your energy costs will also go down and the end result is a win-win for you and our planet.
Call in the Energy-Efficiency Professionals
Most homeowners can take some home energy-saving measures on their own, but they don’t have the training, equipment and experience to make their homes efficient enough to end the headache of high home energy costs once and for all. That’s where an energy audit and system tune-up, provided by trained professionals, comes into the picture. By scheduling these services with experienced technicians who know the ins and outs of typical home construction and HVAC, you’ll be taking the first step to savings. The nagging feeling that your home is bleeding away your hard-earned income will be soon be a thing of the past!
What is an Energy Audit and System Tune-Up?
An Energy Audit Puts You in Control
For many, the word audit can conjure up worst-case scenarios of having your financial records scrutinized and maybe getting hit with a bill for additional taxes and penalties. Likewise, the prospect of a performance or management audit at work may bring on more than a little worry. In the case of an energy audit, however, there is never a penalty to pay nor superiors to answer to. You are the boss of your own home and finances, and the audit will lower your stress, empower you and set you on a path to better control over your environment and your wallet.
What Does an Energy Audit Involve?
To put it simply, an energy audit is a detailed inspection and investigation of the physical spaces in your home, your heating and cooling systems, your use of electronics and appliances, your utility statements and your living habits. These habits include how long you spend in the home on a regular basis, which rooms you use most, and similar information. An energy auditor will check your HVAC system for problems, perform tests to expose any leaks around doors, windows and in the building construction, and recommend alternate products such as programmable thermostats and energy efficient lightbulbs and shower heads. The auditor can help you understand which appliances are draining the most energy and whether more efficient and cost-effective alternatives are available. If your state has tax incentives for energy-efficient upgrades, your auditor will clue you in on potential savings and deadlines together with the ground rules for which upgrades qualify and what documentation you will need.
Can You Perform an Energy Audit Yourself?
You can easily perform a few aspects of an energy audit yourself; for example, you may want to take a flashlight to your basement and check whether your hot water heater is set to a higher temperature than you need and turn it down accordingly. However, most information and analysis, some of which can result in the greatest savings, is best uncovered by a trained professional. If your HVAC system is working but not as efficiently as it could, chances are you won’t know how to detect that. Your system would certainly benefit from a professional tune-up if you truly want to save money in the long run. You may think that a DIY energy audit and system tune-up will save you the price of a professional service call, but the longterm losses that accumulate if you miss out on the best diagnostic methods and expertise will no doubt be greater than the money you saved by doing it yourself.
Why Opt for a Professional Energy Audit and System Tune-up?
The most important thing a reputable energy auditor could do for you may be finding the leaks that cause unwanted heat loss in cold months, and, especially in the Southeast states, overworked air conditioning and excess humidity during hotter seasons. These leaks may be so numerous and hard to detect that specialized blower door tests are necessary to evaluate your home’s degree of airtightness. Likewise, thermographic scans using infrared video and camera images are commonly employed by home energy auditors to identify areas of your home that need more insulation. If your residence is like many homes, money may not just be leaking out of the cracks, it may be pouring out! Once your home has the appropriate amount of airtightness necessary for a healthy indoor environment, your knowledgeable professional can then do a tune-up on your HVAC system to keep the savings flowing back into your wallet!
Stop the Leaks: Schedule a Home Energy Audit and System Tune-Up
How to Prepare for an Energy Audit
For your home in Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia or South Carolina, evaluating the air conditioning is a prime focus. Infrared scans in the Southeast are normally carried out during the hotter seasons when the contrast between indoor and outdoor air temperatures is greatest. To get an accurate reading, you may be asked to move furniture and other belongings away from perimeter walls of your home. For the blower door test, close all windows, doors, wood stove air inlets, fireplace dampers and any other sources of indoor-outdoor air exchange. You will also need to open all interior doors and provide access to small spaces such as the attic and closets.
Gather the Facts Before Your Audit
You can provide a lot of helpful information to your energy audit professional. Prepare a list of problems you know about in your home such as poorly cooled rooms or visible condensation. Provide at least a year’s worth of utility bills so the auditor can see the data for each season. Finally, be prepared to answer questions about how and when each room is used, how many people live in your home and what temperature the home thermostat is set to in different seasons.
Follow Up with a Precision System Tune-Up
Yearly tune-ups are a must when it comes to lowering the cost of air conditioning. You keep your car tuned and serviced; your air conditioner needs attention as well. Your HVAC specialist will perform twenty or more tasks including a multi-point testing and inspection protocol, cleaning filters, calibrating the thermostat, cleaning the condenser coil, flushing and treating the condensate drain, lubricating bearings, checking the compressor and other essentials. With a well tuned air conditioning system, you’ll be well on the way to great energy savings.
Find a Reliable Energy Professional for Your Audit
Because saving money and helping the environment are so important, you’ll want to find a reliable contractor with high-quality training and certification like those available throughAC Southeast®. With more than 200 contractors and dealers available through our directory, we make it easy to find a reliable and respected professional to carry out your energy audit and system tune-up. We’re here to help you stop leaking money and start saving at home!