Friday, March 12, 2010

Energy audit

A long time ago I mentioned that we'd signed up for an energy audit of our home. The audit was conducted back in November, and I wanted to finally share some of the things we learned from it.

The auditors used a special fan to measure all of the small leak areas in our house, and then estimated the size of the hole as if all the leaks were combined in one spot. From this number (17 x 17 square inches), they estimated the cost of air leakage in our home as $502 per year for heating, and $22 per year for cooling. Yikes!

The above numbers were definitely a motivation to apply some of their recommended projects. To stop the air infiltration, Eric added weatherstripping to our attic door and caulked the areas around several other doors, including the garage entry and bedroom closets. We also added foam inserts behind outlet covers and used child safety plugs to block air holes. (This task struck me as a bit silly until I noticed how cold the air was that was seeping in through those tiny holes!) The major tasks the auditors suggested that we haven't completed yet: sealing the opening of our fireplace with decorated foamboard or an inflatable damper seal, adding more insulation to our attic, and replacing our ancient boiler.

It was really helpful to have this assessment, especially since it was accompanied by a long list of things we could do to improve the energy efficiency of our century-old home. Some other projects we completed were pulling furniture away from the walls to allow our floor radiators to heat more effectively, insulating the hot water pipes in our basement, and adding foamboard insulation to the garage walls (which are adjacent to our house).

The total cost for these completed projects is right around $100, so you can see that making a positive impact doesn't have to be expensive! (The tasks we've not completed were by far the most expensive upgrades.) Also, my finance-savvy husband informed me that the improvements we made qualified for a 30% tax credit. The audit itself cost $200, but since we made arrangements with our local utility company, the city generously paid for $150 of that amount!

This is more general, but another interesting thing we learned from the auditors is that ceiling fans are one of the most inefficient home appliances. The auditors said ceiling fans cool skin, not air, so they should never be running when a room is not occupied. Who knew?!

The audit was certainly eye-opening for us, and we hope to continue making our home more energy efficient. Have any of you had an energy audit conducted in your home?

Special thanks to Eric for his help in writing this post, as well as all his work (alongside my Dad) on the projects mentioned herein! Photo credit: Flickr


Mom said...

Great report on your energy audit! We have never had an audit, but we have been working on making our house more energy efficient for years -- including some BIG projects like replacing the furnace (no choice on this one -- the 50-year-old one died) and windows. In our latest utility bill, there was a list of the top 10 things to do to increase the energy efficiency of your house. We've done most of them. The biggest thing on that list we still need to do is add more insulation to the attic -- which is next on our list!

Thanks for sharing! Love you, Mom

Carmen said...

I had no idea about the ceiling fan thing but it makes sense. I tend to leave them on thinking they will keep the room cool for me. Good to know I was incorrect.

Mom2fur said...

That was a really smart thing to do. I bet you will be surprised how much your energy bill is reduced!