If you’re looking for ways to reduce your household utility bills, performing some basic energy tests can help you identify areas where energy is being wasted. Here’s a brief guide to help you find and address energy inefficiencies in some of the most common problem areas:
- Air leaks. Leaks in your home’s conditioned envelope can account for 10-20 percent to your total energy consumption. The first step in reducing this waste is finding leak sources and sealing them with an appropriate caulk product, expandable spray foam insulation or weatherstripping. Indoors, look for leaks along the baseboards, where walls and ceilings meet, at switches/electrical outlets on exterior walls, and around any penetrations between the living area and attic. Outdoors, check around window and doors, where different building components meet, the sill plate, and at penetrations for pipes, vents, and wires.
- Lighting your home accounts for roughly 10 percent of your energy usage. You can reduce this by replacing inefficient incandescent lights with compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), or light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs.
- For optimal energy efficiency, the Department of Energy recommends that home attics in our regions are insulated to R-60 between the floor joists. To ensure that your attic is properly insulated, check whether there’s a vapor barrier against the floor and that it’s covered with enough insulation to hide the floor joists from view. Additionally, make sure the access hatch is weatherstripped and insulated on the attic side.
- HVAC ductwork. Leaky, uninsulated ductwork can waste up to 1/3 of your HVAC system’s output. If your accessible ductwork isn’t sealed and insulated, you can improve its efficiency by applying metal-backed tape to all the joins and seams, then wrapping the ducts in R-6 insulation.
For an in-depth assessment of your home’s efficiency, you can have a professional energy audit performed. An energy auditor uses specialized testing tools like blower doors and thermographic scanners to pinpoint air leaks and poorly-insulated areas so you can make targeted improvements.
For more advice about conducting energy tests and other ways to improve efficiency in your Portland home, contact us at Roth Heating & Cooling.