It’s that time of the year when the leaves start to fall, and there’s a chill in the air but it’s also time to start looking forward to the inevitable…a house that feels like a wind tunnel, wearing winter coats in the living room, and heating bills that look like the national debt!
So what to do? Well first let’s look at some numbers… the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that, 2011, an average of 35% of the average families’ income went to housing. And while the report doesn’t break everything down, the housing number accounts for mortgage expenses, natural gas used, etc.
The report can be misleading though, for example, the report doesn’t take into account the incredibly mild winter we had last year, which drove natural gas prices to low levels not seen in years but reflected a sharp rise in transportation of 8% and food expense at 5.4%
So now what? If everything else is rising, do you think natural gas and electric will stay the same? Do you think we will “luck out” with an equally mild winter this year? If you answered no to either of these, there are some things you can do to balance things out.
First, take a look at the utility rates you are paying right now. And do a comparison using the “Apples to Apples” charting provided by The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio. In my experience as an Energy Efficient Expert, many people are paying a lot more than they should. If you are call the company your with, they may be able to help. Also many municipalities in our area have negotiated special rates with the providers for their residents, so investigate.
Second, before you call a bunch of folks to replace windows, furnaces, or get insulation. Take a look at the science of your home, all these things work together to use less energy and above all make you comfortable!
For instance, you may want a new furnace, but if the home isn’t keeping the heat in, is that new furnace going to help?
Is the home drafty? Building Science tells us that in order for you to feel that draft of cold air in the home, warm air had to leave it. But where did go, and how did it leave? Windows? Doors? Those may be it part of it, but may I suggest, prior to investing in anything, you need to get the full story on everything. How these components work together.
I suggest having the building thoroughly tested to see what is happening. Many utility companies as well as private companies offer whole home energy audits, with the emphasis on “whole home”, remember the entire home works together, so don’t fall for the sales pitch on the one thing they offer.
Finally how do you know if a whole home energy audit is for you? Here are some things to look for;
• Your bedroom or other room is colder in winter and hotter in summer than the rest of your home.
• You are concerned about the air your family breathes inside your home, due to allergies, asthma, or general health concerns.
• Your gas & electric bills are very high, completely out of control, or you would just like to save some money on your utilities
As an expert, through this testing, I think you’ll find that there are many little things you can do yourself, which can add up to savings and additional comfort this winter and the years to come.
Clint Cravens is the Operations Manager for GreenStreet Solutions, a Total Home Performance Co. located in Oakwood Ohio. And can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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