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Energy Efficient Homes Home Energy Audit Home Inspection Uncategorized

What’s a Home Energy Audit, and Why Should I Get one?

A home energy audit is something many homeowners desire to have done on their home. A home energy audit is to quantify the building’s overall thermal performance. It also identifies the efficiency of the heating, ventilation, air conditioning equipment, and thermostat.

energy audit from First Choice Inspectors

The Benefits of a Home Energy Audit

A home energy audit can help point out some important energy concerns that you may have from high energy bills and comfort levels with the home.

Here are some of the major benefits to a home energy audit:

  • Shows energy use for a given time period
  • Suggested energy improvements each year
  • Identify cost effective ways to improve comfort and efficiency

With these benefits, it is much needed for homeowners and building owners to consider getting an energy audit by a professional like First Choice Inspectors. We use thermal imaging canning, videoscope borescopes to check for missing or deficient insulation. Our moisture detection tools are used to check moisture levels.

What does this include:

A home energy audit from us will include a written report with photos and thermal imaging overlays. This is necessary to estimate energy use given climate criteria, thermostat settings, roof overhand, and orientation. The audit can also include interviews of the homeowners, so that we can understand your patterns of energy use over time. An energy audit isn’t meant to embarrass the homeowner, it’s meant to help the homeowner understand their energy uses and how to improve them, so that you can save money and the environment.

First Choice Inspectors

At First Choice Inspectors, we specialize in home inspections in the Chicago area. We have the expertise and experience to help you get an energy audit done on your home. If you have concerns for your home’s energy, then we’re the right people to call. Contact us at 773-429-9711!

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Energy Efficient Homes

Easy Ways to Keep Your Energy Bills Low This Summer

Programmable ThermostatDo your energy bills tend to rise with the temperature? Summer is approaching fast, and before long your A/C might be working overtime to keep your house cool. The good news is, there are a few simple steps you can take to reduce your energy bills even during the hottest months of the year.

Unplug appliances you aren’t using.

Did you know that many appliances use power when they’re plugged in, even when you aren’t actively using them? Unplug devices that revert to a “sleep” or “standby” mode with they’re not in use, as well as any plugged-in chargers that aren’t charging anything.

Check your home’s insulation.

Make sure that any gaps around windows and doors are caulked or weather-stripped, and inspect the insulation in your attic to make sure it isn’t deteriorating. If you live in an older home and you’re not sure when it was last insulated, consider hiring a professional to assess its thermal performance.

Use a programmable thermostat.

Air conditioning is probably the single greatest expense on your electric bill during the summer. A modern programmable thermostat can help to optimize your A/C usage so that it’s not running 24/7. Set the temperature no lower than 78 degrees during the summer—each degree you lower it will add another 4 to 8 percent to your energy bill.

Turn on ceiling fans.

Ceiling fans can help minimize your dependence on the A/C by recirculating cool air throughout your home. On average, ceiling fans reduce the temperature in a room by about four degrees.

At First Choice Inspectors, we regularly conduct energy audits that are designed to identify sources of thermal inefficiency and offer suggestions for improvement that can significantly reduce your long-term energy consumption. To get a free quote for your energy audit, give us a call at (773) 429-9711 or contact us online today!

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Energy Efficient Homes

Smart HVAC System Could Offer Significant Energy Savings

After a long, hot summer, you may be tired of seeing your energy bills spike from the increased load on your HVAC system. Thanks to the efforts of Iranian-American entrepreneur Hamid Farzaneh, homeowners will soon have access to a new “intelligent” ventilation technology that’s designed to make HVAC systems far more efficient.

The Alea Air system uses an array of 11 sensors to offer selective control over each HVAC vent in a home.

In contrast to smart thermostats like Nest, Alea Air optimizes HVAC efficiency with a series of vents that are networked together via a central Airhub. Over time, the sensors in these vents gather data about the temperature and air quality in the different rooms in a home. Based on the data they collect, the vents can open and close automatically to regulate airflow in each room. Furthermore, their simple modular design makes it easy for homeowners to install the vents without assistance from an HVAC technician.

Just like smart thermostats, the Alea Air system can also be accessed via a smartphone app. Through this app, homeowners can choose to manually take control of the temperature in different rooms. In the future, Farzaneh plans to add more sensors to his Alea Air vents that will allow them to detect dust and pollen as well. Alea Air units will reportedly begin shipping in January 2019.

Interested in finding new ways to make your home more energy efficient and reduce your utility bills? At First Choice Inspectors, we can conduct a home energy audit to identify hidden inefficiencies in your home’s thermal performance and offer suggestions for improvement. Just give us a call or contact us online today to learn more!

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Energy Efficient Homes

Benefits of Replacing Your Home’s Old Windows

Benefits of Replacing Your Home’s Old WindowsIf you live in an older home, chances are you’ve experienced the hassles that accompany hard to shut, drafty and dingy old windows. There are a number of great reasons to consider replacing your old windows, and they cover both aesthetic and practical concerns. Here’s our list of the top three benefits of replacing old windows.

Energy efficiency

Old windows are often comprised of a single layer of glass. The most popular contemporary window designs typically feature two panes of glass, sometimes even three depending on the level of thermal performance a homeowner is looking for. Multi-paned windows serve as more effective insulators, keeping warm air in during the winter and cool air in during the summer. This can reduce the load placed on your HVAC system, and save you a lot of money on your energy bills in the long run.

Noise control

Modern windows have also been designed to control sound distribution. That is to say, similarly to air currents, contemporary windows can keep unwanted sounds out so that the inside of your home remains quiet and comfortable. If you live in a high-traffic area that experiences a lot of road noise or construction, a new set of windows can keep all that sound to a minimum.  

Aesthetic value

Regardless of whether or not you’re planning to sell your home anytime soon, new windows can increase its market value. In addition to the increased comfort and quiet they offer, new windows enhance curb appeal and make the interior of your home look more attractive as well. By increasing the resale value of your home, new windows can be a great investment to make for the future.

Are your old windows costing you money on your monthly energy bills? A home energy audit from First Choice Inspectors can help you assess your home’s thermal performance, and make cost-effective suggestions for improvement. Get your quote today or call us at (773) 429-9711 to learn more.

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Energy Efficient Homes Home Inspection

What Does an Energy Audit Entail?

Energy Audit First Choice Inspectors regularly perform energy audits in and around Chicago. An energy audit involves professionals doing a comprehensive examination of a home or building’s thermal performance. In other words, where are the leaks?

Heating and cooling a building costs money, and when there are leaks, the heat or cool air you’re paying for might literally be going right out the leaky window. An energy audit involves checking around windows, skylights, and doors to measure the leakage rate of air to see how well seals are performing– or aren’t. In addition, walls and ceilings and floors are checked for leaks as well. Most people choose to have energy audits done in order to save money on their heating and cooling bills. Leaks can be stopped and therefore energy is no longer wasted.

First Choice Inspectors can provide a written report with photos to show a home or building owner exactly where leaks occur. Thermal imaging overlays can be included when necessary in order to estimate energy use given local climate criteria, thermostat settings, roof overhang and other factors. A home or building owner can get a good idea of how making certain changes could effectively save them money over time.

Specifically, First Choice Inspectors use sophisticated methods such as thermal imaging scanning and videoscopic borescopes to find problem areas.

Common problems an energy audit can find include leaks in the air conditioning duct system, worn-out insulation, and windows/doors in need of sealing and caulking.

Besides talking with home or building owners about their energy bills and energy habits that may be raising their bills, an energy audit from First Choice Inspectors can also include a list of repairs to be done to improve the home’s thermal performance, therefore lowering overall energy bills– oftentimes up to 30%.

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Energy Efficient Homes Home Maintenance

Save Money on Your Energy Bills This Fall and Winter

Save Money on Your Energy Bills This Fall and WinterWe’re about a month into fall and already the temperatures are dropping and homeowners are preparing to hunker down for another cold winter. This time of year energy bills can suddenly become far more expensive, particularly if your home isn’t adequately protected against the elements. By taking some preventative measures, however, you can keep your energy bills to a minimum and save yourself a tidy sum by the time spring rolls around.

Start by Sealing the Gaps

Take a walk around your home’s exterior and keep a close eye out for any gaps around window panes and door jambs. Seal these gaps with caulk to prevent heat loss during the winter. If you have a fireplace, make sure that the damper is closed whenever it’s not in use. You can also purchase insulating film from your local hardware store to seal off windows for the season. Just make sure it’s pulled tight across the window and securely adhered to the window frame to prevent heat leaks.

Use the Sun to Your Advantage

Keep the curtains on south-facing windows open during the day to allow the sun to naturally heat your home. Once the sun goes down, close the curtains to trap that radiant heat inside at night. This will also provide an extra measure of insulation against any gaps you may have missed when sealing your windows.

Have Your Furnace Serviced

Maintaining your furnace will prevent mechanical breakdowns and ensure that it operates at peak efficiency during the winter. Be sure to change your furnace filter regularly, and have an HVAC technician perform a thorough inspection once a year.

Bundle Up

This is perhaps the most effective and underappreciated step you can take to keep your utility bills low during the winter. It costs a whole lot less money to put on an extra layer of clothing than it does to keep your thermostat 5 degrees higher all winter. Keep your thermostat set as low as you can tolerate, and set it back further when you’re sleeping or out of the house. You’ll acclimate to the lower temperatures before you know it, and you’ll thank yourself come springtime.

Stay tuned for more home improvement tips and tricks from Chicago’s premier home inspection company: First Choice Inspectors.

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Energy Efficient Homes

Home-building Industry poised for Green Future

Mike Holmes from Leader-Post speaks about the current trend is definitely moving towards green products and options. The green movement is still so new that it is hard to know which regulations and certifications are the legitimate ones.  This is still so new that the one green move that is full proof is the switch to energy efficiency and durability.  Building an energy-efficient home is becoming the standard for homeowners.  “It’s a way of thinking that says it’s better to invest in more insulation than a granite countertop. It’s cool to have solar panels, energy-efficient appliances and a green roof. These features are becoming the new eye candy of the modern and contemporary home.”  Since energy costs are rising we, as homebuyers and homebuilders, must begin to turn to energy-efficient elements.  As we move forward we will begin to see more homeowners choosing renovations that will bring their homes to higher performance levels.  There are a few options that don’t require too much restructuring:

  1. Increase and/or replace old insulation in the attic.
  2. Always purchase energy star appliances.
  3. Install a programmable thermostat that can regulate the temperature of your home between day and night.
  4. Replace old toilets with ones that are low-flow to save 30 to 50 per cent of the water normally used.
  5. Install a domestic hot-water recovery system that can recapture heat gathered from hot water used during dishes, showers, etc.

 

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