Energy Efficiency in Your Home

This section will provide you some tips on saving energy. This will not take the place of an energy audit by a trained professional with equipment to provide exact information about your home.

All utility companies provide free to low-cost energy audits of the home, under the EmPower Maryland Program. These audits provide detailed information and specific recommendations to reduce energy consumption.

These are some tips to begin saving energy today:

At night, look around your home. If you see appliance lights (red, blue, white), determine if these need to be on all the time. Every light on signals electric is being consumed.

Replace older light bulbs with energy efficient models.

Check the back of your refrigerator. If you see dust and dirt buildup on the pipes or radiator grid, use a vacuum to clean it off. The more dirt on these pipes, the harder the refrigerator must work and will use more electricity.

Check your furnace air filter. If the filter is dirty, the furnace works harder and consumes more electric. Depending on the home, filters will need to be replaced more often.

Hot water heaters build up dirt inside the tank. Have your water heater checked to determine how often it should be cleaned. It is a simple process but have a professional show you how the first time. Then set up a schedule to clean out the tank. The hot water heater will last longer and use less electric or natural gas.

If you have a heat pump, check to make sure nothing is blocking the outside unit air vents/fan vents (leaves, limbs, bushes).

On a windy day, move your hand around all windows, doors, and wall plug/switches on exterior walls. If you feel air, think of money going in and out. There are various low-cost insulation products you could try.

Is one room or wall much colder during the winter? There may be no insulation, or voids of insulation, in that wall. A full energy audit can provide the exact answer using heat imaging equipment (which will also pinpoint water leaks in the walls).

Wrap hot water pipes with foam insulation, to reduce heat loss. These come in various sizes; hardware store associates will be able to help.

Think of the areas of the structure and divide between areas heated/air conditioned and those that are not. Think of the spaces you want to heat or air condition; this is the “conditioned air space” you are paying for.

Look for cracks, holes, pipes, etc. that enter the “conditioned air space” area. These should be sealed to save energy (and keep pests out).

If there is an attic, check the depth of insulation installed. The hardware store sales associate should give you the average for your area.

In the attic, if the insulation is pink, look at any areas around pipes, chimney, light fixtures, or wiring. If insulation is dirty, “conditioned air” air is escaping.

If there is any type of door to the attic, make sure there is insulation covering the door when closed to prevent loss of “conditioned air.”

The advantage of a full energy audit’s detailed information is to develop a plan and budget to make those changes to save the most money.