In my earlier article I hate reacting. How do I approach my power bill problem deliberately? we learned that there is no magic bullet that will reduce your energy bill. We recognized that no two houses are the same even though the floor plans may be identical. The variables that drive energy consumption can be contractor’s craftsmanship, your lifestyle and preferences of the occupants, choice of appliances, or even the choice of technician to install appliances, just to name a few.
There are three first steps every homeowner should follow that will set you on the right track regardless of your home’s specific challenge.
1) Install an Energy Monitoring System. Knowledge is power making this the critical first step. In a previous blog we identified Behaviors and Comfort Settings as one leg of a three legged stool. It is important to recognize that beyond your comfort settings there is more than likely a significant amount ‘wasteful consumption’. You will be surprised at what is consuming energy in your home and how much it is costing you.
More importantly, you need a system that establishes a baseline and helps you compare and assess any changes you make. This includes both behavioral and structural changes. When a contractor says you will save 20% on your power bill if you put in new windows then you want to look at what your current costs are associated with your Heating and Air. If someone recommends replacing your refrigerator to save money then you want to know with accuracy how much you are spending to power your refrigerator. If you decide to reinforce your attic with insulation then you will want to observe a noticeable difference in cycle times and time between cycles.
Essentially, you are getting real time data on your home’s performance and not industry estimates. Installing an energy monitoring system enables you to make more objective decisions. In each of the examples your costs can be thousands or tens of thousands of dollars.
2) Conduct an Energy Audit. In previous blogs we illustrated degrees of inefficiencies and also sources of inefficiencies. Like a good doctor you should diagnose your patient before you treat your patient. It is very important that the auditor is trained and certified to conduct an audit. Building Performance Institute (BPI) trains and certifies professionals to conduct a detailed and exhaustive audit of residential homes.