Auditing Energy: Small Measures, Real Savings

No matter the age of your home, it could benefit from an energy audit. Piedmont Electric offers free home energy audits conducted by our Energy Specialists. But you can get started on your own in finding low-cost solutions that could save money on your monthly electric bill.

First, ask yourself a simple question: Does my home feel drafty and cold in the winter, or stuffy and hot in the summer? If yes, then it probably experiences air leakage.

To track down where those spots are, start with the usual suspects—like damaged seals around doors and windows. If you see daylight or feel air, then apply caulk and weather stripping to keep outdoor air where it’s supposed to be.

But don’t forget spots you might not immediately think of, like recessed canister lights and electrical outlets. Outlet insulation kits can be purchased for as little as $2 and you can fix up your canister lights with some caulk around the edges.

Also look where walls meet the ceiling. Cobwebs mean you’ve got drafts.

Next, peek into the attic and inspect the crawl space or basement for sufficient insulation—how much you need depends on your climate. Check out the insulation calculator from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory at www.ornl.gov/~roofs/Zip/ZipHome.html. Keep in mind insulation won’t do its job well if you don’t have a proper air barrier working in tandem. That means all joints and cracks must be sealed between your living space and insulation.

Finally, look to your light fixtures. Compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) are up to 75 percent more efficient than traditional incandescent bulbs, and they’ve come a long way in light quality, design, and affordability. You can purchase CFLs in a variety of shapes and hues. They cost more upfront, but you’ll make your money back in less than nine months and, after that, they start saving money. Make sure to purchase a CFL that’s rated by ENERGY STAR, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s program that denotes products meeting specific energy efficiency criteria. ENERGY STAR-rated CFLs will typically last 10 times longer than a traditional incandescent bulb producing the same amount of light.

LEDs—light-emitting diodes—are in the next wave of residential lighting. An ENERGY STAR-rated model is estimated to use only a quarter of the electricity consumed by traditional bulbs and can last for 25 years. As with many new technologies, the up-front cost for an LED bulb is still much more than even a CFL, but prices are expected to drop as new products are developed.

To learn more about ways to reduce your electric bill, visit EnergySavers.gov or TogetherWeSave.com or call Piedmont Electric at 800.222.3107 and ask about our free home energy audit program.