Tip: Energy Audits

Ever wonder how good your insulation is? Do you think your windows are drafty but not sure it’s worth the investment to replace them? Is your furnace operating efficiently? A home energy audit is a good way to get the answers.

An energy audit can help you identify the areas in your home where you could save a lot of energy and money, sometimes with just a simple and inexpensive remedy. There are different types of energy audits, ranging from filling out a form to having a site visit from a professional. Typically a professional energy audit will include some of the following items:

  • Evaluation of your home’s air-tightness and insulation effectiveness using a blower door to measure air leaks
  • Assessment of your heating system efficiency and safety
  • Recommendations for energy-saving lighting and appliances
  • Professional advice on ways to improve the comfort and durability of your home as well as solve moisture and ventilation problems
  • Assistance in prioritizing energy-saving home improvements
  • Information on rebates, incentives and ways to finance energy-efficient home improvements

Here are some of the energy audit programs available in our area:

  • Efficiency Vermont offers a “Home Energy Evaluation Form” that can help you to identify inefficient electrical appliances and key areas of heat loss in your home. Call Efficiency Vermont at 888-921-5990 to begin your evaluation.
  • You can estimate the relative energy efficiency of your home just by knowing the square footage and how much fuel you consumed last year. Although this is not a precise account, the worksheet calculations do provide a rough gauge of whether there are important opportunities to improve its efficiency. Worksheet link.
  • If you are a lower-income household, you may be eligible for a free audit and free home weatherization services through the Vermont Weatherization Program. Click this link to see if you qualify.
  • Efficiency Vermont offers up to $2,500 in incentives per household to help Vermonters pay for energy efficiency home improvements completed by a certified Home Performance with ENERGY STAR contractor. These independent contractors are certified by the Building Performance Institute to perform energy audits, diagnose building problems such as moisture, mold and ice dams, and prioritize and install the recommended energy efficiency improvements. Click here for a list of certified contractors:.

For more information on home energy audits, visit the Efficiency Vermont website.

Come to the first RCAC MOVIE NIGHT !

RCAC will be showing a few films this winter, focusing on issues such as climate change and renewable energy. The first RCAC Movie Night is Sunday January 30th at 6:30 in the Richmond Free Library.

The film we’ll be showing this week is called “The Age of Stupid.” It stars Pete Postlethwaite (in one of his last films before his death this month, and who Steven Spielberg once called the greatest actor on the planet) fifty years in the future, looking back on the present, seeing all the warning signs of impending doom and contemplating why we didn’t do something about it when we had the chance. It’s a great film with a good balance of plot and documentary content. Snacks will be provided and there will be short time for discussion afterwards.

We will be showing a kid’s movie simultaneously in a smaller room in the Library. So if it’s hard for you to get a sitter, that’s no excuse not to come! In keeping with our mission, the kids movie will also focus on environmental issues. RCAC Movie Night is a free event.

Tip: Refrigerators

Refrigerators account for about 15% of household electric use. Here are some tips on how to save energy and money with your existing fridge (we’ll have a separate tip soon on when it’s worth replacing your fridge):

– Thaw foods in the fridge – takes longer, but they cool the fridge while thawing.
– Don’t put hot foods in the fridge – wait till they cool down (or pre-cool outdoors in winter).
– Avoid holding the door open any longer than needed.
– Clean and check the seals around the fridge and freezer doors. A bad seal lets cold air flow out and should be repaired.
– Check and set the temperature to 36-40F for the fridge, and 0-5F for the freezer. Setting it colder wastes considerable energy. To test the fridge, put an accurate thermometer in a glass of water and leave it for 24 hours. To test the freezer, put the thermometer between two frozen packages.
– Use the “energy-saver” mode if you have one (often this turns off the anti-sweat feature, a small heater that reduces condensation on the outside of the cabinet, which is usually not a problem in winter anyway).
– Keep the evaporator coils (the small winding black pipe on the back or underneath) clean of dust, and make sure they have enough room for good ventilation.
– If you have a second refrigerator, it’s most likely an older energy-hog – unplugging it could same you over $100 per year and make a huge reduction in your carbon footprint.