The first step to home energy efficiency is to have a home energy audit performed in your home. A home energy assessment will reveal to you how much energy your home uses, and help you to find ways to make your home more energy efficient. The audit itself will not save any energy. It is up to the homeowner to implement the recommendations included in the audit in order to experience real savings. You can perform the audit yourself by using your last 12 months of utility bills and a government form to compare your bills to similar homes across the country. If your bills are not handy, you can contact your utility company and receive a 12-month statement.
For more specific expert recommendations, you can hire a professional Home Energy Auditor. Professional auditors use various techniques and specialized equipment to determine your homes energy efficiency. A complete audit will find every area in your home where energy is wasted. Infra-red cameras will detect air leaks and missing insulation. For a professional home energy audit, you can either contact your local utility company or hire a professional energy auditor.
Information about audits is available from the federal governments Energy Star website. This is a government backed program that is run by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and The Department of Energy. The goal of the program is to both save money and protect the environment by encouraging the purchase of energy efficient products and the use of energy efficient strategies. Americans are already seeing the benefits of the program, saving $18 million in energy bills in 2010.
A product that has an Energy Star label has been designated by the EPA as energy efficient. Not all energy efficient products receive the designation. Certain minimum requirements must be met. The rating helps to drive sales of certain products and appliances by letting consumers know which choices are better for the environment and their energy bills. The programs governmental website includes a list of qualifying products. To entice consumers to buy the listed products, many of them qualify for a tax credit. The credits differ according to the type of product, but savings for some can exceed $1000. These credits are designed to make the purchase of energy efficient items more affordable by covering the difference between energy efficient and regular models.
When doing your own home energy assessment, there are specific things you are looking for. First, you need to check for air leaks. These can happen in some not so obvious places. Window frames and the weather stripping around doors are obvious. But air can also leak out through electrical outlets, switch plates, and fireplace dampers. Be sure you are having the heating and cooling system inspected annually. Any heating or cooling system that is more than 15 years old needs to be replaced. By choosing an energy efficient system, you can get a tax credit of $500 or more. Also check your lighting, which constitutes 10% of your bill. Replace 100 watt bulbs with 60 or 75 watt bulbs, and consider using compact fluorescent bulbs for lights that are left on for hours at a time.
A home energy audit can set you on the way to saving serious money on your home energy bills. Whether you do the audit yourself or hire an auditor, you will discover how much money you are wasting on utilities every month. Knowing the information is only the tip of the iceberg. You have to act on the information as well. The audit itself will not save you money. Your informed choices will.