Copy of Steps to Saving Money on Energy

Climate change is affecting everyone in every part of the world. Although the problem is global, each of us as individuals can take steps to minimize our individual contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. Assessing the amount of energy you use in your home is a great place to start.

The Johnson Clean Energy District (JCED) has developed an energy assessment program to help individuals evaluate home energy uses, where their home is inefficient, and which problems areas and fixes should be prioritized to save energy and improve comfort.

In late 2023, we are piloting a program to assist groups and individuals assess their homes, hoping to learn how to best support homeowners upgrade their homes. In this pilot project, we will test three options, with different levels of detail, for home assessments. If you are interested in this program or would like to try it yourself, click on the links below.

A simple, do-it-yourself home energy assessment can teach you a lot about your home. Get a flashlight, camera, the assessment checklist, and maybe a friend or family member to help. What you learn will guide your next steps.

Insulation and Air Leaks

  • Attic insulation: loose-fill at least 12”; batting 11”; or spray foam 6-10”
  • Attic access door is insulated
  • Check attic ventilation
  • Basement joists on perimeter of building are insulated
  • Exterior walls are insulated
  • Insulation around interior vents (heat registers in floor, etc.)
  • Exterior penetrations through sidewalls caulked

Heating and Cooling

  • Furnace: Energy Star or efficiency rating (AFUE or % heat produced/$) above 80% (search serial number online)
  • Furnace: Estimate 15-25 years furnace lifespan, lower AFUE over time. Tips: www.energy.gov/energysaver/furnaces-and-boilers
  • Air conditioner: High efficiency (SEER rating 14 or higher)
  • Air conditioner: Estimate 10-15 year lifespan Tips: www.energy.gov/energysaver/air-conditioning

Windows and Doors

  • Check for air leaks around doors and windows
  • Glass and framing intact
  • Framing is caulked
  • Trim and siding is caulked
  • Double or triple-paned windows or storm windows
  • Storm doors
  • Be aware of historic district guidelines on window replacements

Major Appliances

  • Water Heater: Energy Star or EnergyGuide label for ratings above .65
  • Water Heater: 10 years old or less
  • Water heater: Pipes insulated
  • Refrigerator: Energy Star or EnergyGuide label; E and F ratings and above are efficient models
  • Washer/Dryer: Energy Star or efficiency ratings A-D

A more detailed home energy assessment can teach you even more your home. You will need a flashlight, camera, the assessment checklist, and maybe a friend or family member to help. What you learn will guide your next steps.

HOME FEATURE YES/NO IMPROVEMENTS
NEEDED/PLANNED
PRIORITY
1=most important
DATE
COMPLETED
SIDEWALLS
There is caulk around the edge of the outside trim of all windows and doors.
There is wall insulation between the sidewall studs and/or foam sheets under the siding.
The sidewalls have an air sealing insulation wrap under the siding (e.g., Tyvek)
There is wall insulation between the sidewall studs and/or foam sheets under the siding.
ATTIC
My attic has at least 10 inches of insulation.
The access door to the attic has weatherstripping on the edges and is insulated on the attic side.
All holes in the attic floor for wires, pipes and ducts have been sealed with caulk or spray foam.
All holes in the attic floor for wires, pipes and ducts have been sealed with caulk or spray foam.
BASEMENT
There is caulk between the wall1 (sill plate) and the foundation wall
The band joist/rim joist area2 is filled with expandable foam, caulk, foam board insulation
All cracks and holes in the foundation are sealed on both the inside and the outside with caulk, foam, or other patching material, including holes where electrical, gas, water supply, telephone, and cable lines enter the house.
There is caulk or foam where metal ducts meet the ceiling, floor, or walls – in the basement.
All holes in the attic floor for wires, pipes and ducts have been sealed with caulk or spray foam.
All cracks around basement windows are filled with masonry caulk or spray foam
If my basement or basement garage is not heated, the ceiling is insulated
If my basement or basement garage is not heated, the ceiling is insulated
WINDOWS
All the house windows have double or triple paned glass
I have storm windows if my windows are single paned.
All seams between glass and frame parts have been caulked
DOORS
All exterior doors have weatherstripping around the edges
All exterior doors are insulated
Storm doors are installed over uninsulated exterior doors
HEATING AND COOLING SYSTEMS
I have an ENERGY STAR Certified heating system that is less than 10 years old
My heating system has 95% or greater annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE) – see the label
I have an electric furnace (not gas or oil)
My house has a heat pump4 (geothermal, ducted or mini-split) for heating & cooling
I have a smart thermostat that adjusts settings based on established patterns for leaving home and sleeping5
My house has photovoltaic solar panels to make electricity
I have an ENERGY STAR certified air conditioner that is less than 10 years old
I have an ENERGY STAR certified water heater that is less than 10 years old
LIGHTING
All interior and exterior light fixtures have LED bulbs
All interior and exterior light fixtures have LED bulbs
All interior and exterior light fixtures have LED bulbs
All interior and exterior light fixtures have LED bulbs
All interior and exterior light fixtures have LED bulbs
LIGHTING
All interior and exterior light fixtures have LED bulbs
Lights in unused rooms are routinely turned off

FOOTNOTES

*Holes, gaps, and seams can be filled with caulk and/or spray foam

**Pre-1945 seldom has wall insulation unless new siding or exterior plugs for blown-in insulation (1” holes every 16” on exterior

***Look on roof for (1) four to six 1-sq ft “hotboxes”, (2) ridge vents running full length of roof ridge, and/or (3) screened soffit vents under the eaves. If present, you can generally assume adequate ventilation but speak to contractor if you are increasing insulation

+Expandable foam and/or foam board are good choices for top of the basement wall

++Look for all entry holes, such as gas lines, electricity, AC, water supply, internet, cable, etc

Having a professional home energy audit is the most comprehensive way to evaluate energy efficiency. A trained auditor will come to your home and collect detailed data about your home’s size, window area, amount of insulation, heating and air conditioning systems, and kitchen and laundry appliances. The auditor will also perform a calibrated blower door test to determine how much air is entering or escaping from your home plus infrared thermography to show surface heat variations. All collected data will be entered into a computerized software program.

Within 2 weeks, the auditor will send you a written report including detailed data findings, recommendations for improving energy efficiency, and the degree to which each recommendation would impact your energy usage.

To be connected with a certified energy auditor for a comprehensive assessment of your home, contact Johnson Clean Energy District at info@johnsoncleanenergydistrict.org

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