Thursday, October 22, 2015 / by Tim Hart
Obviously, the easiest, cheapest and most efficient way to save money over the winter is to change your lifestyle. Wearing sweaters and turning down thermostats will do the most to keep payments low while using less energy.
All homes are different and therefore need to be evaluated on an individual basis to determine how they might be made more efficient. In a recent study, the University of Chicago suggested that most weatherization upgrades do little to improve returns on the investment.
However, it may be the case that these homes did not correctly diagnose how to best upgrade their home, instead spending on more expensive, ineffective upgrades. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, 90% of detached, single-family homes are under insulated. If all homes had proper insulation, electricity use would decrease by 5% and natural gas use would decrease by 10 percent.
But how can homeowners better diagnose issues with their home? An energy efficiency audit. Auditors can use little tricks to find leaks and issues within the home.
One local energy auditor suggested that homes built pre-1960’s consider air sealing. Many older homes do not have the air and water barriers that are required today (Tyvek home wrap). These older homes oftentimes do not have insulation either. Current approved insulation has an R value of 3 per inch (learn more about R values here) so older insulation may simply be out of date.
For middle age homes, auditors would more than likely perform a depressurization. That process simulates 20 mph winds on all sides of the home, allowing experts to diagnose where potential leaks might be coming from.
With new construction, ideally there should not be much to do, but mistakes are made on all homes, and an energy audit might help a new construction owner diagnose a potential mistake.
Improving home efficiency will at the very least help protect the earth and environment even more. Potential returns on investment, for many, would be an added bonus.