There has been a lot of progress made recently in improving energy efficiency, but it's important to look at the process and your house as a whole - an improvement in just one area of your home will not necessarily work.

THE TRUTH ABOUT AN ENERGY EFFICIENT HOME

Kent Baake | Continuum Energy Solutions

EarthToys Renewable Energy Article
There has been a lot of progress made recently in improving energy efficiency, but it’s important to look at the process and your house as a whole – an improvement in just one area of your home will not necessarily work.

The Truth about an Energy Efficient Home and ‘Going Green’

By Kent Baake, Continuum Energy Solutions


When you ask how to go about making your home energy efficient or ‘going green’, the answer you receive will dramatically depend on who you’re asking. More than ever we are inundated with various advertisements promising huge energy savings ranging from new automobile technology to light bulbs to coffee makers. There has been a lot of progress made recently in improving energy efficiency, but it’s important to look at the process and your house as a whole – an improvement in just one area of your home will not necessarily work.

More often than not, if you talk to a window company, it feels like all you need to do is replace your windows to solve your huge energy bill.  Talk to an HVAC company and what you need is the new top of the line HVAC unit. A house is a complicated set of building components that are designed to keep us safe, comfortable and protected from the elements - one can not offer a single best solution when it comes to energy efficient homes.  The best thing you can do is approach ‘going green’ as an entire process and treat the assessment and improvements to your home accordingly.

Homeowners are often reluctant to receive any energy audit because they believe it will be some long, expensive process. This is not true at all! An energy audit involves a whole house approach in assessing the performance of a building with regard to energy consumption and efficiency. The audit itself is a series of simple steps:

  • Talk to the homeowner and find out the concerns and the history of the house
  • A visual examination of the exterior and interior condition of the house is conducted and notes are made for energy efficiency measures
  • Implement a series of air infiltration tests, including:
    • Efficiency testing of the home’s combustion appliances
    • Blower-door pressure testing to determine how much air leaks throughout the home’s shell
    • Optional HVAC and duct leakage testing, using a duct blaster system, is preformed to check for air leaks in the home’s duct system
    • Thermal imaging to determine the proper separation of the conditioned living space from the unconditioned space of the building and the outside

A typical single home audit takes about three hours and will usually cost $300 - $600. Once the homeowner is aware of the existing condition of the house from the energy audit report, the homeowner can follow the prioritized list, as provided by the auditor, to implement the improvements as they wish.

Energy efficiency in the home is about awareness, environmental preservation and saving money. First you must be aware of your own habits and limitations. You might be in the habit of leaving your heat on during the day while you’re away from your home so that it is warm when you arrive – but is that really necessary? Having your lights on a timer so they are on when no one is home is not the most energy efficient option, yet it helps keep your home and family safe. Assessing your habits and priorities is a major step in assessing your energy efficiency.

Secondly, environmental preservation is a major goal for ‘going green’. Being aware of this goal and how dedicated you are to it will help you establish guidelines and benchmarks in your energy efficiency process. If you have driven less or bought a hybrid for economic or environmental reasons that is terrific! But you have to remember: your house uses more energy than your car.

Finally, an energy efficient home will impact your finances. Saving money occurs when you identify and eliminate excess expenses and energy use. A professional energy audit can allow a homeowner to find out which parts of the house are working well or not, possibly emitting carbon monoxide or improperly venting waste gases.

An energy audit and the recommended work can offer tremendous savings and fast payback. The energy audit tests are simple, easy and provide each homeowner the vital information they need to make informed decisions about their home.  Energy efficiency improvements will not only impact the quality of your home, but also the quality of your life and your impact on the environment. Take the next step and find a local professional today. 

 

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