Did you know there is money buried in our homes and retail or office buildings?

It’s in the electrical wires, appliances, walls, attic, furnace room, fireplace, kitchen and bathrooms. An assessment or audit of the energy use in your buildings can help you discover where your money is hidden, where energy is being wasted, and where you can realize savings that will liberate cash for other uses.

Ways to Save Energy in Buildings

A utility bill analysis offers initial clues to locations of wasted energy. By examining a year or two of utility usage data, an energy auditor can identify excessive heating, cooling or base (lighting, hot water, appliances) usage and can estimate the savings possible through energy efficient upgrades.

With an inspection of ducting, thermostat set points, water temperatures at the faucet, and other items included in a building assessment, it can become very obvious that an old hot tub is sucking up dollars or that the furnace or water heater is not delivering on the fuel it consumes. A 65% efficient furnace, for example, sends $.35 of every $1.00 spent for fuel up the chimney. If the ducting is leaky, the loss is even greater.

An energy audit can also reveal a building’s “phantom loads.” Phantom loads are the largely invisible pirates of a building’s energy. The dimmer switch for your dining room lights, for example, may be stealing the energy that is not demanded by the light bulb and converting the unwanted power to heat behind the switch plate. Your office building’s computer system may stay powered up 24/7 in order to receive updates which actually occur at a predictable hour once a day.

An audit or building assessment can recommend simple solutions including Smart Strips, timers, occupancy sensors and updated dimmers which regulate the flow of energy in coordination with actual demand.

Another hidden source of wasted energy is incandescent light bulbs. Incandescent light bulbs use 75% more energy than compact fluorescent or LED light bulbs. For every incandescent light bulb replaced with a more energy efficient bulb, you can save $.75 of every dollar spent on electricity for lighting. In office buildings, replacing old T-12 fluorescent tube lighting with more efficient T-8 and T-5 tubes can realize significant savings and increase cash flow for other business purposes.

Your walls, windows, attic and roof are also full of buried treasure. The money lost through air leakage and heat transfer due to holes in your walls, poorly fitting windows and doors, and insufficient insulation in walls and attics could be money in your pocket. An energy audit uses blower door and infrared camera equipment to locate air leakage sites and evaluate windows, doors and insulation.

The EPA estimates that households can save up to 20% on their heating and cooling bills by air sealing and adding insulation.

Xcel Energy rebates for energy audits and building improvements make right now an excellent time to schedule an energy audit of your home or small commercial building.