Energy audits can save a lot of money

Over the course of a year, people may spend more than they'd like on both heat and air conditioning, and are therefore often on the lookout for ways to reduce those costs. And while there are often many good tips available for doing so - such as investing in "smart" thermostats, and so on - there may be one relatively simple overarching move that can solve a lot of problems very quickly.

These days, in an effort to reduce stress on the power grid and dependence upon other resources, many cities across the country are now offering consumers a way to assess whether their homes are as efficient as they possibly could be, by conducting what is known as an energy audit, according to a report from the Denton Record-Chronicle. In many cases, homes built longer ago than, say, 15 or 20 years, are likely to have many problems that builders back then wouldn't have considered too carefully, and which can end up costing homeowners a lot of money over the course of a year.

What does this entail?
An energy audit sounds rather complicated but is actually pretty simple, the report said. Certified professionals come to a house and test it for efficiency through a number of methods. Typically, these are used to determine whether there are any leaks through which heated or cooled air might seep out, and whether insulation is as effective as it should be. What many homeowners might not know is that insulation should be replaced every few decades or so, and that older homes in particular typically wouldn't be using the kind of advanced materials used these days; depending on when houses were built, some might even be insulated with old, balled up newspaper.

And while one little crack in the seals around a window or door might not seem like a big deal, the fact of the matter is that there are usually plenty of them around an entire house, the report said. And cumulative effect in a home, therefore, is often about the same as leaving a window open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. And when you put it that way, it comes across as a big, costly problem for homeowners.

Correcting that problem
When an energy audit is completed, experts can pinpoint exactly where these leaks are happening, how big they are, and just how much air escapes from them in a given length of time, the report said. Because of these leaks, some homes may cycle out their heated or cooled air every few minutes, and that leads to much higher bills. But if homeowners know where the problems are, they can also correct them for very little money, and save a ton in the long run.

Consumers who save that kind of money might then be able to put it toward other financial issues in their lives, like paying off some debt or boosting their savings appreciably. That, in turn, is going to put them in a better financial position overall going forward.

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