Author Topic: Energy Audit  (Read 1575 times)

Imonaboat

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  • Location: Southeast Texas
Energy Audit
« on: November 04, 2015, 09:46:21 AM »
So we have been in our home for a little over a year and just paid it off earlier this month. Now it's time to wage a war on our $200-450 a month electricity bill. I live in southeast Texas with a family of 6, so A/C use is pretty constant, but I should be able to find some improvements.

I am comfortable tinkering with electrical circuits so I bought a few usage tracking tools that I read about on here. We have 2 outdoor light posts (4 bulbs in each) that are hard wired into one of the outside circuits that never turn off, day or night. Those are getting capped and ripped up asap, the first one was already done 2 months ago. There are a few lights that have not been converted to CFL or LED's too, which should help some.

I also plan to do a full checkup on every breaker circuit to look for shorts or other issues. This should locate any appliance with standby loads as well. I'll be building a clothesline to go old school on some laundry too, we have a beautiful south facing lot with plenty of sunshine.

There is another audit I've been considering and that is thermal imaging. It should locate any areas with weak insulation and holes where heat/AC is escaping. Could also be used to find leaks in the attic vents. Flir 1 was recommended to me as an ipad attachment, but it's still almost $300. Does anyone have any experience with thermal imagining? I may try to find one to borrow somewhere, since it's expensive and not a tool that I can see myself using often.

My mother in law lives with us in a converted garage that is not insulated, this will be a somewhat larger renovation task to add, but could save us a pretty significant amount over time. I bought her a smaller window unit so the main A/C is not over worked as bad trying to keep up.

All appliances are electric and gas is not a solution in this area.

Anyway, I'll mark my progress here:


---------------------< war on ridiculous utility bills begins
Oct: 2015: $350.51
Sep 2015: $380.76
Aug 2015: $406.92
Jul 2015: $405.19
Jun 2015: $326.29
May 2015: $280.28
Apr 2015: $220.81
Mar 2015: $301.30
Feb 2015: $338.33
Jan 2015: $373.33


Does anyone else have embarrassingly high electric bills they want to fight this year?
« Last Edit: November 04, 2015, 09:59:43 AM by Imonaboat »

tonysemail

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Re: Energy Audit
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2015, 10:20:18 AM »
wow, nice job paying off your  house in one year.

nothing beats conservation.. but I was curious whether solar panels make sense in your case.
with a utility bill that high, I would think one of those $0 down leasing deals would be very attractive.

Imonaboat

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  • Location: Southeast Texas
Re: Energy Audit
« Reply #2 on: November 04, 2015, 10:48:49 AM »
We have an awesome clear south facing rooftop that would be perfect for it, but I don't think Texas offers much credit for solar unless you live in Austin, which makes the initial cost pretty rough. It also gets incredibly hot which is actually bad for solar.

I keep looking into it, but have not found a perfect solution just yet. For now I'm going to focus on removing the waste usage.


Moving this to journals
« Last Edit: November 05, 2015, 01:45:57 PM by Imonaboat »

Money Badger

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Re: Energy Audit
« Reply #3 on: November 22, 2015, 06:56:24 PM »
Sounds like you have a good plan to find the leaks and beat down the consumption...   FWIW, I work in the Energy metering business so this one hits a nerve and some thoughts on where the biggest draws are usually...

If you have your mother in law in an apartment, you have 2 homes worth of usage in reality.  Perhaps see if a separate meter is possible for her unit (or at least some way to meter the load off the main box to her apartment to see who is the bigger user).   

Garage without good insulation, that smells like that is the culprit to me.   Always amazing how a small space can consume major amounts of energy and amazing how a small investment in insulation, especially for roof pays off (and insulate under the floors for that garage apt.)   

The window unit A/C's are notoriously inefficient and the fact that the A/C is working too hard smells like a big bill hit.   They can burn more than a full HVAC in some cases (the fact that that is needed, points to a need to do some type of spray attic insulation.   

Look at every plug in both houses and see what can be unplugged for a month.   Every little battery charger, power adapter on TVs/DVDs/microwaves, etc. adds up.

Roof vents on the garage apartment and checking to see if there's a good attic ventilation and/or attic fan on the space may be the single best way to reduce the more expensive air conditioning bills.

Buying LEDs on Amazon is yielding some good deals lately.   Amazing how much these dropped our consumption.

Look for bathrooms that had 4 or more bulb fixtures.   Can they be replaced with smaller number of higher wattage LEDs in new fixtures (or just bulbs alone)

Look at the water heater... is it electric?  or Gas?   Is the temperature possibly set too high if it's electric?

Look at her 2nd refrigerator or yours.  Are they efficient models?  Do you both need full sized ones?   Is a small fridge only unit an option with a shared deep freeze for buying bulk deals on veggies/proteins.

Look at the washer/dryer...   Do you both have one?   Clothes lines are wonderful!

Look at the dishwasher... is it energy star?  Does she use the "heat dry" cycle?   Or you guys?   That sucks juice!

You didn't mention square footage or the price of energy in your area.  But local utility or state websites can show what "best in class" setups will use for certain square footage ranges.  This tells you if you're way out of whack...

Good hunting!