New Year New Maintenance Challenges
Today is January 2, 2015 and I would like you to take a moment to think about your goals for the year. Not the old ones about losing weight, working out more, getting a better job, you know, the same old things. This year, I challenge you to resolve to get involved with your own home and to bring your family into the game. That’s right, it’s a game where you have to keep score and monitor success to let the players know how they have done.
Energy Savings Offsets Tax Increases
Most families in America have noticed the cost of operating their vehicles has decreased with the drop in gas prices recently. Many Americans were able to spend more during the holidays because of the drop in gas prices. My challenge to you is to gain additional savings in your home ownership costs through proper maintenance. It is the opposite of a drop in price, you can reduce the demand for resources through a few easy maintenance actions each month.
To Begin Conduct an Energy Audit:
Many subscribers have found that conducting an energy audit will result in significant benefits, including the discovery of energy inefficiencies and new ways to save on energy costs – perhaps as much as thirty percent – depending upon your family’s energy-use scenario. The following three goals have been applied to this audit:
1. Reduce energy costs by 5%
2. Reduce consumption without changing lifestyle
3. Spend nothing on new appliances, windows, doors, or insulation.
Things You Need To Get Started
The past 12 month’s utility bills (gas, electric, water) and a computer spreadsheet or tabulation paper to record utility consumption (focus on units not cost). For example, each utility bill provides a quantity of units (gallons, Kwh, etc.) used. Record those numbers to begin your scorecard.
If you are using a spreadsheet, the Maintenance Guru suggests that you build the spreadsheet to look like Table 1 below for each tracked monthly bill:
TABLE 1 Savings Scorecard
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
**$ per KWH
**Multiply the cost per unit of measurement by the savings amount.
Steps to Conducting an Energy Audit
1. Assign Responsibility: Energy audits can be performed by the entire family with everyone becoming involved with the process. I encourage you to bring your children into the audit to begin their education on how to care for a home.
2. Gather Energy Data: Review your utility bills from the past year or from a typical twelve-month period. Also, look at data from your accounting records that reflect electric, gas, water, and sewer charges. Plot out the monthly rates on a spreadsheet, record consumption figures, and any other fees for natural gas, electric, water and other utility charges.
Did you know that in many cities across the country, the sewer bill is determined by the amount of water used? By saving water, users also lower their sewer costs.
***Energy Audit Checklist***
- Is your home using the most energy efficient lighting options (incandescent lights should be replaced with new fluorescent bulbs whenever possible)?
- Are there areas that have excessive or unneeded lighting?
- Are you making effective use of available lighting, such as natural sunlight?
- Does weather stripping around doors and windows need to be replaced? (move a lit candle around window and door openings and if the flame flickers or moves, you may want to consider repairing the seal)
- Are cracks around doors, windows and foundations properly sealed?
- Are there open doors around garages or other frequently accessed areas? Garage doors should be closed to maintain all available warmth in the garage.)
Heating and Cooling:
- Are furnaces, boilers and air conditioning systems operating efficiently? (Listen and observe the units as they operate, if anything seems to vibrate excessively or make squeaking noises you may want to get a professional to service the unit).
- Is there a regular maintenance and update schedule for these systems? (There is if you are using the checklists properly).
- Are filters replaced regularly?
Motors and Equipment:
- Is your equipment maintained so that it is operating at maximum efficiency?
- Are machines shut down when not in use?
- Are fan belts at the proper tension and in good condition?
- Are lights, fans and equipment (computer, printers, etc.) turned off when not in use?
- Are building temperatures set back when not in use? (VERY IMPORTANT, turn your heat down or your air conditioning up when you go to work and school.) You don’t need to heat and cool your home if you are not there. This one precaution could save several hundred dollars each year.
- Establish a realistic target for future energy usage.
- For example, try to reduce your consumption by 5% next month (over the same month last year).
- Don’t run partial loads of clothes through your washer and dryer.
- Let clothes air dry when possible.
- Make sure your dish washer is full before turning it on.
- Turn your thermostat off when you leave the house (or down so the heat/air doesn’t come on so often).
- Turn your computers off when they are not in use.
- Turn your lights off when you leave a room.
- Do not leave ceiling fans on when you are not in the room. (They only provide value when you are in the room, as soon as you leave; the fan simply runs up your energy bill).
- Close your blinds to keep the sun out in the summer in rooms you do not use like spare bedrooms.
- Close doors and vents in rooms you don’t use.
- New appliances are more efficient than older ones and can often save their purchase price in energy savings over a 5 year period.
The first step to energy savings is being aware of wasteful practices. Over time, you will be surprised what your savings will be.
Signed, the Maintenance Guru.