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Creating a Home Energy Plan
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Creating a home energy plan is an important part of your energy-efficient home improvements. A viable plan will save you time, money, and energy.
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FIGURE 6-1 Turn off the lights
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Begin by creating a strategy to deal with the largest energy consumers in your home. For most of us, this is the heating system (Figure 6-2). Then research and determine the most efficient solutions. Start by creating a clear, well-defined energy goal. If your goal is energy improvement, home improvement, or financial improvement, then you ve begun at the right place. A strategic plan is important whether you are developing a green renovation or simply replacing some energy-inefficient systems with energy-efficient systems in your home. Here s how you create a strategic plan: 1. Ask an energy expert to evaluate your home s energy efficiency to identify the most significant energy drains in your home. This expert can help you define goals for energy efficiencies. 2. After you have defined your goals, write them down as succinctly as possible. If the goals or changes involve your family, include them in the plan. 3. Determine your budget, and be realistic. Keep in mind that most home projects often cost more than you first anticipated, so consider that as you plan. Do not change your budget to meet your plan; change your plan to meet your budget. Obtain cost estimates on the project to help determine whether your budget is reasonable. 4. Assemble information about any projects and activities that are required to meet your goals. 5. Determine what actions need to be accomplished and the order in which all activities must proceed. (Do not install the new carpet before you paint, for example.) A discussion with an expert may prove
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Creating a Personal Energy Plan
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Other 8% Refrigeration 8% Appliances 9% Space Heating 31%
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Computers and Electronics 9% Lighting 11% Water Heating 12%
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FIGURE 6-2 Home energy use
Source: Department of Energy 2007
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useful. This is the time to begin putting the project plan, step by step, on paper. Revise the plan as necessary. Synchronizing the budget and plan will help avoid fiscal problems as you move forward. Compare the budget and plan, and be sure that they are complementary. Establish a timeline for each activity. If you re involving a contractor, consider his or her average completion time estimates, but know the worst case scenarios as well. Plan on the average timeline but be prepared to live with a project that takes more time than expected. Establish milestones or target dates for work completed. Meeting milestones demonstrates progress. Milestones can help ensure that activities are completed prior to starting new ones. Some activities can or will occur concurrently. Milestones will not allow certain projects to begin until other milestones have been met. Employ the labor required to complete your goals. Confirm who will be available to help complete the project. Begin work on the project. Review the plan daily or as often as necessary. Revise work to meet the plan and budget, as needed. If the plan was properly designed, you should not need to revise it. Altering the plan once work has begun can lead to a significant increase in expenses. Manage the project. Even if a contractor is employed, you are the manager of the project. Project and employee supervision will be a necessary daily task.
Six 12. Manage the budget. The budget should include milestones and should match the progress of the project. 13. When the project is completed successfully, your work is still not quite done. Review the budget and be sure to collect refunds, rebates, and tax benefits applicable to your project.
Evaluating Your Home Energy Use
Your goal in evaluating your home energy use is to save money and energy by reducing inefficient energy use in your home. How you accomplish this goal depends on your home and your personal needs. Many utility companies will perform home energy audits for free or for a small fee. If you hire a professional contractor to do the audit, he or she will analyze how well your home s energy systems work together and compare the analysis to your utility bills. The contractor can use equipment such as fans, infrared cameras, and surface thermometers to find leaks and drafts and can give you a list of recommendations for cost-effective energy improvements. A reputable contractor can also calculate the return on your investment in high-efficiency equipment compared with standard equipment. In some situations, a contractor performing the improvement can actually save you time and money. In beginning to assess energy use, first gather all your utility bills. Write down the total of each bill for the year to determine the following: How much money is spent on each utility bill Which expense is the largest Then, consider the following: Will you hire a contractor to do the work to fix the energy inefficiencies or improve your home, or will you do the work yourself Some rebate and tax credit programs require that a certified professional do the work. If you want to do the work yourself and you want the rebates and credits, check this out before you start. How much will the work cost How much of the work can you afford to do now How much time will the work take How much rebate or tax credits will be available after you do the work How long will it take to recover the money spent to repair the problem How long do you plan to own your current home
Creating a Personal Energy Plan In most energy audits, the heating and cooling expenses and energy use are often too high because of insufficient insulation in the attic and/or crawlspace. This particular problem is a good problem, because it s straightforward to fix, and product rebates, tax rebates, and tax credits can help you pay for the additional insulation and work.
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