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We're Not Paying to Heat the Whole Neighborhood!

Homes are becoming more energy efficient, but there is always room for improvement. Performing an energy audit will reveal areas of your home that waste energy so you can repair them.

With the advent of energy efficient appliances it is easy to believe that our homes are energy efficient. While many homes are more energy efficient than homes of the past, installing energy efficient appliances is only the first step to establishing a home that uses energy wisely. Your heating and cooling systems can be energy efficient, but if the air they produce is escaping from your home, you are wasting a great deal of energy. A home energy audit can highlight the areas in your home that waste energy, which costs you money. You can hire a professional to audit your home, but it is also a task that you can perform yourself if you have a little time.

Begin your audit by checking the level of insulation in your exterior and basement walls, ceilings, floors, crawl spaces and your attic. Look for holes or cracks in your walls and ceilings, and around windows, doors, lights, plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets. These holes can leak air into or out of your home. Be sure all fireplace dampers are closed, and consider purchasing glass enclosures for your fireplaces. Also, properly maintain your appliances and heating and cooling systems to save money on your monthly utility bills.

Next, examine how you light your home. Specifically, look for ways to use natural daylight to reduce your use of electric lights, and replace incandescent bulbs and fixtures with fluorescent lamps.

Once you have examined your home, list all the improvements that need to be made-even if they seem too expensive for your current budget. It is important to remember that you don't need to solve all of your energy inefficiencies at one time. Note the items that are inexpensive "do-it-yourself" jobs and begin to work on these. Then list jobs that require a contractor, and are financially feasible, and finally list the jobs that require a major investment of time and money. Plan to work these larger jobs into your future budgets.

While your initial outlay for energy-wise improvements and more efficient appliances will require an initial outlay of money, the cost of operating your house will decrease, the resale value of your home will likely increase, and you may also qualify for an energy efficient mortgage. This mortgage allows lenders to use a debt-to-income ratio that is higher than normal, to calculate loan potential. 

An energy efficient home will not materialize overnight. Making your home energy efficient is an ongoing project that will change as technology changes. As your home becomes more efficient you will experience decreased energy bills and a more comfortable living space.

Sources: www.doityourself.com