Battle of the Bills: Tips for Doing an Effective Home Energy Upgrade


Most consumers want to lower their utility bills, but they don’t know where to start. While it might not seem intuitive, one of the best places to start is an energy upgrade.

Hire An Auditor

An energy auditor can be hired through your local utility company or through a private HVAC company. Contractors come out to the home with specialized hardware and software to assess what, if any, improvements can be made to make the home more energy-efficient.

One of their main tools is a blower door. A blower door is a special device that mounts to the frame of an exterior door. The fan pulls air out of the house, lowering the pressure inside.

Once air pressure is lowered, the higher outside air pressure starts entering the home. This shows where air infiltration is occurring.

Auditors supplement this test with a smoke pencil to find air leaks. Combined, these tests determine the rate of air infiltration. Using this data, the auditor can make recommendations for improving the efficiency of your home.

Loose-Fill Insulation Replacement or Backfill

It’s common for exterior walls to be insulated with loosely-packed blown insulation. Blown -in insulation is cheap, which made it an attractive form of insulation for years. What many homeowners didn’t realize is that this insulation eventually settles, sometimes unevenly, creating gaps and infiltration points at the top of the home.

Backfilling or replacing this insulation with spray foam or fiberglass (batt) insulation will create a more energy-efficient home and reduce heating and cooling costs over the long-term.

Upgrading HVAC Systems

The HVAC is the heating and air conditioning system for the home. It also vents air outside. Some systems also incorporate air cleaning technology.

These licensed technicians, set up and install these systems for you and then maintain it over the lifetime of the system.

But, over time, system performance can degrade as new technology replaces old. Upgrading your HVAC is usually necessary after 10 to 15 years, with 20 years being the upper limit for most systems. Click here to learn if you may claim these costs on your homeowners insurance.

Have your chimney inspected

A lot of people don’t realise how important it is to have your chimney inspected. If its not inspected regularly you could be losing heat that could be used to heat up your home. Click here to check out a company that can provide those services.

Moving Beyond Double-Paned Windows

Double-paned window systems used to be the standard in insulating window systems.

For years these windows offered unparalleled performance. But, new triple-paned systems promise to improve performance. The addition of experimental clear insulation also promises to reduce energy use by as much as 33 percent, with a payback period of less than a year.

Installing Venting In Roofs

Roof venting can help move hot air out of a home by providing an escape route for it. Heat naturally rises, but it often becomes trapped in the attic area with nowhere to go. As it backs up into the upper floors of the home, it gets recirculated into the environment through the HVAC and air circulation/ventilation system.

This increases the mean temperature in the home and increases cooling costs during the summer.

Installing vents reduces costs by reducing your reliance on A/C to cool the home.

Mary O. Ordonez is a home economist. She enjoys writing about better home living while saving money. Her articles can be found mainly on finance and homeowner sites.

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