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Determine how energy efficient your house is
This is a vital first step in approaching a solar switch. If your house is very energy inefficient right now, solar power won’t produce miracle results and might even turn into a wasted investment. Get those old clothes on and grab a flashlight!
Find the largest contributors
What you really want to do is find the biggest contributors to energy inefficiency. If you just deal with the smaller problems, you won’t solve much and you’ll end up getting diminishing marginal results. If your boat is a leaky bucket, fixing the mast isn’t the best use of time.
Consider calling a professional
Professional energy auditors can be useful if you don’t feel up to the job. But don’t let that mean you just sit back and let them do all the work. Use the opportunity to learn about energy efficiency applied to your home by asking questions.
Find and get rid of air leaks
Start by doing a pressure test on the house. Make sure all heating sources are switched off or extinguished. Turn off the HVAC. Turn off the cooking range and any water heaters too if you can. Next shut all doors, windows, and vents firmly.
Depressurize the house
Any exhaust fans that you might have, probably in the kitchen and bathrooms, should be turned on. If they can be aimed, point them outside. This will depressurize the house, forcing air from outside to try and come in. Now the hunt to find those pesky leaks!
Block the drafts
Feel a draft in some areas? Look for their sources. If you can manage to plug these up properly, you can save between 5-30% of your heating/AC bill. Windows, doors and vents are some obvious places to check.
Caulk the holes
Caulk any holes you find. By using a good quality sealing caulk you can be sure it will last a good few decades. It’s cheap and effective at stopping those pesky air leaks around window frames and ventilation shafts so don’t be sparing!
Insulate your home
As much as possible, check your insulation in floors, ceilings, walls. Replacing insulation completely can be very costly, and the returns are not immediate, unlike with air leaks. Yet it is still a large contributor to energy inefficiency so there are some particular aspects you might want to concentrate on.
Prioritize the tasks
The room where your family spends most of the time is obviously the most important one, so if you can only afford one room to re-insulate, choose this one. Check light fixtures and places where you’ve done work previously because insulation may have been affected there. Hot water pipes, for example, can be easily and cheaply insulated.
Do you really need that hulking machine?
Try to estimate how much your household appliances are costing you. The clothes dryer is often the first appliance that can be eliminated just with a bit of organization. Simply replace it with a clothesline and air dry your clothes. Do the math and you’ll be surprised at your monthly savings.