Home energy audits

Saving energy while saving money

TULSA - From duct work to windows, there are many things we can do as a homeowner to make our home more energy efficient.

But with so many options it's hard to know what will get the most bang for your buck.

Robert Martin has lived in the same house in West Tulsa for 30 years. In that time, the kitchen is about the only major renovation he's tackled.

Now he's starting to notice some changes, in the form of bills.

"Compared to people I know who have built new homes or live in newer homes... my bills seem high to me." said Martin.

In an effort to reduce his energy bills, Martin hired John Abdo of Pro Energy Consultants to conduct a home energy audit.

"One of the things we're going to do is find out where the house is losing energy." explained Abdo.

Using specialized tools, Abdo begins the energy audit by depressurizing the house using a large fan.

"It's pulling air out of the house and therefore pulling air through the leaks that are there so we can see them better." said Abdo.

Then, using infrared cameras and a tool Abdo called a smoke pencil, he was able to find several air leaks throughout the home.

Adbo mentioned most homes lose energy around pipes in the kitchen and bathroom. He suggests spray foam and calking to alleviate air leaks.

Light switches are also a common energy loss area; again, calking and child safety plugs are a quick and cheap fix.

"All the air leaks around piping, electrical wiring, through light switches, all of these together can equal a window that's open all the time" said Abdo.

PSO is offering a new program that will help pay for some energy saving home improvements.

"The customer does pay for the energy audit up front and based off recommendations given back in report they can receive incentives on things like insulation, cfls, hot water tank wraps" explained Lisa Puyear, of PSO's Energy Efficiency Program.

To learn more about the program offered through PSO click here.

Pro Energy Consultants charges a flat rate of $129 to do the energy audit, then charges based on the homes square footage. PSO has a list on its website of several area companies that do this type of service.

If a home energy audit is not within your budget there are ways to find some air leaks yourself.

First, look at areas where different materials meet, such as between brick and wood siding, between foundation and walls, and between the chimney and siding. Also inspect around the following areas for any cracks and gaps that could cause air leaks:

  • Door and window frames
  • Mail chutes
  • Electrical and gas service entrances
  • Cable TV and phone lines
  • Outdoor water faucets
  • Where dryer vents pass through walls
  • Bricks, siding, stucco, and foundation
  • Air conditioners
  • Vents and fans

How to detect an air leak for free:

Shining a flashlight at night over all potential gaps while a partner observes the house from outside. Large cracks will show up as rays of light. Not a good way to detect small cracks.

Shutting a door or window on a piece of paper. If you can pull the paper out without tearing it, you're losing energy.

Additional home repairs experts say can save energy:

  • Check for open fireplace dampers
  • Install an inflatable fireplace damper balloon when fireplace is not in use
  • Install an attic fan cover when not in use
  • Install foam gaskets behind switch plates and electrical outlets
  • Install electrical outlet child protector caps to slow air leaks through slots
  • Use foam sealant around large plumbing and electrical gaps
  • Caulking around window/door trim
  • Pay attention to home lighting habits, especially high traffic areas
  • Adjust hot water tank temperature to lowest reasonable setting
  • Use shades, blinds, tinting on East and West facing windows
  • Plant shade trees on East and West sides of home
  • Check window/door weather stripping and replace if needed
  • Use CFL's in place of incandescent bulbs
  • Replace furnace filters regularly



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