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Energy Audits - Your First Step to Savings

If you are responsible for paying the bills each month you already know the importance of energy conservation. Most people may agree that their homes could be more energy efficient, but are not sure where to begin. If you find yourself only thinking about energy conservation when you pay the bills for the month, then you may be missing the boat.

The first step in determining which parts of the home are wasting the most energy is to conduct a home energy audit. A home energy audit will assess how much energy your home consumes and will evaluate what measures you can take to make your home energy efficient. An audit will show you problems that, when corrected, will save you significant amounts of money over time. During the audit, you can pinpoint where your house is losing energy and also determine the efficiency of your homes heating and cooling systems.

Due to natural settling of the ground, exposure to the elements over time, deterioration of building materials, and the development of new/more efficient technologies, older homes are less energy efficient than newer homes. Therefore the older your home is the more likely it can benefit from a home energy audit. If your home is more than 25 years old, you should save on the average of 35% on your energy bills. If your home is more than 50 years old, that percentage goes up to 38%. Even if your home is only 10 years old there is a good chance that it’s losing energy.

A professional energy auditor will examine, measure, test, and evaluate the factors that affect energy use in your home. A well written, detailed report should:

• Provide a science based assessment of the energy efficiency of your heating and cooling systems
• Provide you with trusted, unbiased advice with which to make informed decisions about potential    renovations and future investments
• Contain estimates of the savings, costs, and payback for each energy efficiency recommendation
• Identify low cost energy saving investments
• Identify no cost energy saving tips

There are three types of Energy Audits one may consider

On-line Home Analyzer: Local electric power providers; such as Jackson EMC offers its customers an on-line interactive service whereby you can analyze your home’s energy use based on your billing history. This free service will enable you to determine where your energy dollars are going, and enable you to prioritize which efficiency improvements will provide you with the greatest return. You can also try one of these sources as well:

Home Energy Saver
Alliance to Save Energy’s Home Energy Checkup
• U.S. Department of Energy’s Do-it-yourself Home Energy Audits

In-Home Audit: Local electric power providers such as Georgia Power and Jackson EMC also provide free In–Home Energy Audits. These are simple walk through evaluations which attempt to visually identify possible energy losses by inspection. The fee for a private auditor to perform this task may be roughly $100.

In-Home Comprehensive Audit and Diagnostic Evaluation: Professional Home Energy Audits should be conducted by fully trained and certified contractors who will perform such assessments based on industry approved standards. The cost for this evaluation may range from ($300 to $700) depending on the types of tests performed.

The key factor here is to come away from this exercise with a results oriented comprehensive action plan and time line. Based on your economic situation you can begin to prioritize which items to implement and when. Keep in mind that the Department of Energy suggests that for every $1 invested in energy improvement, $4 to $7 in energy cost savings should be realized over the life of the improvement.

Saving tomorrow begins today!

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