Energy bills rise as soon as temperatures drop, but your home's heat may not be the only thing cranking up your bill each month. Before blaming the power company or accepting the astronomical bills, investigate the problem by conducting your own energy audit. An energy audit helps homeowners and renters locate where their pads are not being efficient, and provides insight on where improvement is needed. Grab a pen and paper and use these tips for inspecting your digs' energy efficiency.
- Be Schooled in Your Bill - You may pay the bill each month, but what do all the numbers mean? Take a minute to get more acquainted with your energy bill. Don't be afraid to call your power company for questions either. Knowing your regular usage helps detect any unwarranted spikes in costs - and lets you know if it's time to conduct another audit.
- Investigate Applicances - Analyze appliances and electronics to see which are using the most energy. The Kill a Watt Electricity Usage Monitor ($20) assesses each gadget's efficiency, including how much each appliance is costing you each year. Also, make sure you're not incurring any phantom loads with your unused appliances.
- Head to Heating Units - Running the heat 24/7 is a sure way to plump up your energy bill, but in the colder months, check your filters to make sure they're not due to be changed. For your water heater, investigate piping for insulation.
- Look Into Lighting - Let there be light, but let it be as efficient as possible. Look into all your lights and light bulbs to ensure that the lowest wattage is being used in each socket. Take it a step further and look to see where you can switch to compact florescent lights.
- Examine Windows - Inspect your windows for air leaks. Do any rattle? Movement indicates there is room for air to escape. Do all windows close properly? If not, air is getting out. Can you see daylight in somewhere other than through the glass? Gaps around the frame or window are a sure sign of your rising energy bill.
- Survey Doors - Drafty doors are common culprits for wasting energy. Investigate all doors for drafts. Like windows, a rattling door indicates there is room for air to escape. Ensure that weather stripping is in good condition. Does daylight peep through when the door is closed? Seeing the light often means losing the dough.
- Watch Out For Wall Outlets - Wall outlets feed energy to your electronics, but some starve your home of precious energy as well. Examine all wall outlets for air leaks. Dampen your hand to make detection a breeze.
- Analyze Air Vents - Air vents force the air into your home, but they can also suck the energy out. Check vents for drafts, but also make sure each one being put to good use. Look for opened and closed vents and evaluate that air is being directed to the proper places in your home.
- Review Other Offenders - Besides the obvious, don't forget to study all openings in your walls. Forgotten offenders include mail slots, fireplace dampers, attic hatches, baseboards, and switch plates.
- Call in the Professionals - If your energy usage does not diminish after you've conducted your own energy audit, it may be time to call in the professionals. Check with your provider, but most power companies provide various types of audits for free.
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