Take a room-by-room tour of ENERGY STAR @ home and learn what you can do to save energy, save money and help protect our environment in your own home. Click on the link below to visit the ENERGY STAR home.
Residential Energy Audit Program
Conway Corporation now offers a free energy audit to residential electric customers interested in identifying how much energy their homes consume and what measures may be taken to make their home more energy efficient. The analysis will show a homeowner problems that may, when corrected, save significant amounts of money over time. To view additional information, click here. To request a home energy audit, call 501-450-6000 or click here to email us.
Do-It-Yourself Home Energy Audits
You can easily conduct a home energy audit yourself. With a simple but diligent walk-through, you can spot many problems in any type of house. When auditing your home, keep a checklist of areas you have inspected and problems you found. This list will help you prioritize your energy efficiency upgrades. The following are areas that you should look to find potential energy savings:
Locating Air Leaks
First, make a list of obvious air leaks (drafts). The potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home may range from 5% to 30% per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward. Check for indoor air leaks, such as gaps along the baseboard or edge of the flooring and at junctures of the walls and ceiling. Check to see if air can flow through these places:
- Electrical outlets
- Switch plates
- Window frames
- Weather stripping around doors
- Fireplace dampers
- Attic hatches
- Light fixtures' ceiling mounting brackets
- Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners
Also look for gaps around pipes and wires, electrical outlets, foundation seals, and mail slots. Check to see if the caulking and weather stripping are applied properly, leaving no gaps or cracks, and are in good condition.
Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. See if you can rattle them, since movement means possible air leaks. If you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window leaks. You can usually seal these leaks by caulking or weather stripping them. Check the storm windows to see if they fit and are not broken. You may also wish to consider replacing your old windows and doors with newer, high-performance ones. If new factory-made doors or windows are too costly, you can install low-cost plastic sheets over the windows.
If you are having difficulty locating leaks, you may want to conduct a basic building pressurization test:
- First, close all exterior doors, windows, and fireplace flues
- Turn off all combustion appliances such as gas burning furnaces and water heaters
- Then turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms
This test increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect. You can use incense sticks or your damp hand to locate these leaks. If you use incense sticks, moving air will cause the smoke to waver, and if you use your damp hand, any drafts will feel cool to your hand.
On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet, including:
- All exterior corners
- Where siding and chimneys meet
- Areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet
You should plug and caulk holes or penetrations for faucets, pipes, electric outlets, and wiring. Look for cracks and holes in the mortar, foundation, and siding, and seal them with the appropriate material. Check the exterior caulking around doors and windows, and see whether exterior storm doors and primary doors seal tightly.
When sealing any home, you must always be aware of the danger of indoor air pollution and combustion appliance "back drafts." Back drafting is when the various combustion appliances and exhaust fans in the home compete for air. An exhaust fan may pull the combustion gases back into the living space. This can obviously create a very dangerous and unhealthy situation in the home. For more information go to Sealing Leaks and Sealing Ducts.
Inspect Your Insulation
Heat loss through the ceiling and walls in your home could be very large if the insulation levels are less than the recommended minimum. When your house was built, the builder likely installed the amount of insulation recommended at that time. Given today's energy prices (and future prices that will probably be higher), the level of insulation might be inadequate, especially if you have an older home.
If the attic hatch is located above a conditioned space, check to see if it is at least as heavily insulated as the attic, is weather stripped, and closes tightly. In the attic, determine whether openings for items such as pipes, ductwork, and chimneys are sealed. Seal any gaps with an expanding foam caulk or some other permanent sealant.
While you are inspecting the attic, check to see if there is a vapor barrier under the attic insulation. The vapor barrier might be tarpaper, backing paper attached to fiberglass batts, or a plastic sheet. If there does not appear to be a vapor barrier, you might consider painting the interior ceilings with vapor barrier paint. This reduces the amount of water vapor that can pass through the ceiling. Large amounts of moisture can reduce the effectiveness of insulation and promote structural damage.
Also check behind “knee walls” and attic doorways in bonus rooms. Most upstairs bonus rooms with short “knee walls” have only the usual wall insulation. Adding additional insulation on the attic side of these walls and doorways can reduce considerable heat transfer to and from your attic.
Make sure that the attic vents are not blocked by insulation. You also should seal any electrical boxes in the ceiling with flexible caulk (from the living room side or attic side) and cover the entire attic floor with at least the current recommended amount of insulation.
For more information go to Adding Insulation
Check Results on Your Conway Corporation Bill
Conway Corporation prints on each residential bill the amount of water and electricity that was used during the same period the previous year. This is an excellent tool for you to track your own energy savings performance.
Have a professional HVAC dealer do a performance maintenance check-up and cleaning of your air conditioner and heating system annually to ensure that you’re getting the most energy efficiency possible.
Learn to make smart decisions about heating and cooling efficiently.
- Change your air filter regularly
- Inspect your heating & cooling system annually
- Adjust thermostat setting (Every 1 degree over 8 hrs will save 1% on utility bill)
- Recommended when home - 68 degree winter, 78 degree summer
- Recommended when way - 55 degree winter, 85 degree summer
- Use ceiling fans and small electric heaters to supplement comfort level
- Install a programmable thermostat
- Install weather stripping and caulking around windows and doors
- Seal your heating and cooling ducts
- Consider installing ENERGY STAR qualified heating and cooling equipment
- Consider installing storm windows and doors. Whether hand-made or professionally installed, storm windows could save you as much as 15 percent a year in heating costs
Learn more about Heating & Cooling
No matter how you heat or cool your home, you can reduce the load on your heating and cooling equipment by as much as 20 percent by investing a few hundred dollars in insulation. And the benefits of insulation - lower utility bills - continue for years.
There are several types of insulation available on the market with fiberglass being the most common; most energy efficiency experts recommend cellulose insulation. When correctly installed with air sealing, each type of insulation can deliver comfort and lower energy bills during the hottest and coldest times of the year.
To get the biggest savings, the easiest place to add insulation is usually in the attic. A quick way to see if you need more insulation is to look across your uncovered attic floor. If your insulation is level with or below the attic floor joists, you probably need to add more insulation. The recommended insulation level for most attics is R-38 (or about 12–15 inches, depending on the insulation type).
Do NOT insulate over eave vents or on top of recessed lighting fixtures or other heat-producing equipment on the attic floor. Keep insulation at least three inches away from the sides of these types of fixtures.
Insulate floors over unheated spaces such as crawl spaces and garages. Make sure any ducts in unheated spaces are properly insulated and that leaks are taped.
Add insulation behind “knee walls” and attic doorways in bonus rooms.
Click for larger image.
Learn more about adding insulation
Many air leaks and drafts are easy to find because they are easy to feel — like those around windows and doors. But holes hidden in attics, basements, and crawlspaces are usually bigger problems. Sealing these leaks with caulk, spray foam, or weather stripping will have a great impact on improving your comfort and reducing utility bills.
After any home sealing project, have a heating and cooling technician check to make sure that your combustion appliances (gas- or oil-fired furnace, water heater, and dryer) are venting properly. For additional information on Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) issues related to homes, such as combustion safety: Learn More
In houses with forced-air heating and cooling systems, ducts are used to distribute conditioned air throughout the house. In a typical house, however, about 20 percent of the air that moves through the duct system is lost due to leaks and poorly sealed connections. The result is higher utility bills and difficulty keeping the house comfortable, no matter how the thermostat is set.
Because some ducts are concealed in walls and between floors, repairing them can be difficult. However, exposed ducts in attics, basements, crawlspaces, and garages can be repaired by sealing the leaks with duct sealant (also called duct mastic). Do not use duct tape! Duct tape will not hold up throughout the years of extreme temperatures. In addition, insulating ducts that run through spaces that get hot in summer or cold in winter (like attics, garages, or crawlspaces) can save significant energy. An R-value of 6 is recommended. Learn More
Lighting and Appliances
Energy used for lighting and appliances can account for half of your home's total utility bill. ENERGY STAR qualified products, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, electronic equipment, light fixtures, and compact fluorescent lights (CFL’s) can significantly reduce energy costs. A “Smart Strip” multi-outlet surge protector will turn off electronic accessories such as VCR’s, DVD players, and surround- sound systems or computer equipment when not in use. An energy efficient water heater can also reduce your utility bills.
When buying an appliance, remember that it has two price tags: what you pay to take it home and what you pay for the energy and water it uses. ENERGY STAR qualified appliances incorporate advanced technologies that use 10–50% less energy and water than standard models. The money you save on your utility bills can more than make up for the cost of a more expensive but more efficient ENERGY STAR model.
ENERGY STAR qualified lighting provides bright, warm light but uses about 75% less energy than standard lighting, produces 75 percent less heat, and lasts up to 10 times longer.
FACT: The energy used in the average home can be responsible for more than twice the greenhouse gas emissions of the average car. When you use less energy at home, you reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants and help protect our environment from the risks of global climate change. Click here to find Energy Star rated products.
Heating and Cooling -
Improving Heating and Cooling Systems
As much as half of the energy used in your home goes to heating and cooling. So making smart decisions about your home's heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) system can have a big effect on your utility bills — and your comfort. Take these steps to increase the efficiency of your heating and cooling system.
Inspect heating and cooling equipment annually or as recommended by the manufacturer. If you have a forced-air furnace, check your filters and replace them as needed. Generally, you should change them about once every month or two, especially during periods of high usage. Have a professional check and clean your equipment once a year.
Check your ductwork for dirt streaks, especially near seams. These indicate air leaks, and they should be sealed with a duct mastic. Insulate any ducts or pipes that travel through unheated spaces. An insulation R-Value of 6 is the recommended minimum.
If your HVAC equipment is more than 10 years old or not keeping your house comfortable, you should have it looked at by a professional HVAC contractor. If it is not performing efficiently or needs upgrading, consider replacing it with an energy-efficient heat pump. Installed correctly, these high-efficiency heating and cooling units can save over 20% on your heating and cooling costs. But before you invest in a new HVAC system, make sure that you have addressed the big air leaks in your house and the duct system. Sometimes, these are the real sources of problems rather than your HVAC equipment.
Remember that getting the proper size and a quality installation is essential to getting the most from your new equipment. When replacing HVAC equipment, bigger doesn't always mean better. If the unit is too large for your home, you will be less comfortable and might actually have higher utility bills. Oversized equipment will operate in short run cycles, not allowing the unit to reach efficient operation and remove humidity from the air — resulting in an uncomfortable home. Your contractor should determine the right size for your HVAC equipment by using ACCA/ANSI Manual J or an equivalent sizing calculation tool that takes into account specific information about your home.