The Atlanta Insurance Guide to Saving Money and Energy in Your Home
The U.S. Department of Energy reports that the key to achieving savings in your home is a “whole-house” energy efficiency plan. To take this whole-house approach, think of your home as an energy system with interdependent parts, all of which need to be maintained properly.
The Atlanta Home Energy Audit
The most vital first step is finding out which parts of your home use the most energy. A home energy audit will pinpoint those areas and suggest the most effective measures for cutting costs. You can conduct this yourself, contact your local utility, or call an independent energy auditor for a more thorough examination.
You will likely find that heating and air conditioning are the biggest energy wasters. Many Atlanta home owners believe that insulation is the beginning and end of keeping a house properly efficient. The truth is that fixing air leaks can often times cost less and give greater benefit than many people expect. At Atlanta Insurance we recommend that you inspect around plumbing vents, wall electrical outlets and switches, recessed lights exposed to the attic, attic stairs, vertical plumbing stacks open in the basement and other culprits that allow air to be drawn from your home and escape out the roof or other openings. The potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home can range from 5% to 30% per year.
After you have identified where your home is losing energy, assign priorities by asking yourself a few important questions:
- How much money do I spend on energy?
- Where are my greatest energy losses?
- How long will it take for an investment in energy efficiency to pay for itself in energy cost savings?
- Do the energy-saving measures provide additional benefits that are important to me (for example, increased comfort from installing double-paned windows?)
- How long do I plan to own my current home?
- Can I do the job myself or will I need to hire a contractor?
- What is my budget?
- How much time can I spend on maintenance and repair?
Formulate a Plan
Once you assign priorities to your energy needs, you can form a whole house efficiency plan. Your plan will provide you with a strategy for making smart purchases and home improvements that maximize energy efficiency and save the most money.
Another option is to get the advice of a professional to help you devise a plan. Many utilities will conduct energy audits free or for a small charge. A professional contractor will charge a fee but use more equipment (such as infrared cameras and blower doors). Once the professional gathers information about your home, he/she will give you a list of recommendations for cost-effective energy improvements and enhanced comfort and safety.
Tips for Finding a Contractor
- Ask your Atlatna Insurance agent for a recommendation. Often times your insurance agent will know reputable companies in the area that handle claims work.
- Look in the Yellow Pages or on the Internet
- Focus on local companies
- Look for licensed, insured contractors
- Get three bids with details in writing
- Ask about previous experience
- Check references
- Check with the Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org)
Source: The U.S. Department of Energy, www.energy.gov