Before Solar Panels: Is your Home Energy Efficient?

Deciding to get solar panels is a huge decision.  You have taken the first step in that if you are thinking about it, you probably like the idea of going green, saving money, and doing your part to save the earth. Before installation of solar panels, there are other smaller steps one can take to do to become more energy efficient.

Many of the homes in America waste energy through poor insulation. Whether it be through heating or cooling, the air flow leaks into or out of your home is money that is pouring out of your pocket. By fixing these problems, it can have a significant impact on your electricity or gas bill. Some areas you might check yourself are the attic, basement, windows and doors, and recessed lighting.

The attic is one of the most common areas that a home loses energy. Heat rises and if your attic is not properly insulated, that air you spent money heating can easily escape out the attic during the winter. Worse, during hot summer months, the air you spend cooling will be diluted with the hot air entering in from that same attic!

There are some homes in San Diego that have basements or crawl spaces. Some homes also have recessed lighting. These are common area where leaks occur.  Making sure these areas are well insulated will help your wallet in the long run.  These are also areas of moisture problems. Checking them can save your money in the long run if there are any signs of moisture.

Windows and doors are usually obvious culprits of energy loss. If you cannot install double paned windows, making sure the seal is intact and no gaps or cracks exist in both your window and door will go far in keeping hot air in during the winter, and cool air in during the summer.

Some other areas to check are mail chutes, electrical and gas entrances, cable or phone lines, dryer vents to the outside, air conditioners, and vents and fans.

There are trained professionals who can assist you in locating these problem areas.  They can do an energy assessment on your home.  Some use a blower door test which depressurizes a home to reveal any locations of leaks.

You can do some simple tests yourself. One is by taking a piece of paper and shutting it in a door or window.  If you can pull it out without tearing it, the seal is not tight enough and you are losing energy.

Using a partner and a flashlight is one way to detect some larger gaps or cracks. Shining the flashlight at night over all potential areas while your partner looks from the opposite side can reveal those areas where the house is losing energy.

Another way to detect leaks is to use your furnace on a cool, windy day. Make sure all your windows and doors are closed.  Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside such as bathroom fans or stove vents. Use a incense stick lit and pass the smoke around some of the common areas. If a leak is present, the smoke will be blown around or sucked out of the room showing a draft.

In preparing your home to be energy efficient, the use of solar panels will make greater financial sense to your wallet once the panels are installed to your home.

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