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Energy Audits

This weeks blog is about energy audits. I am not going to bore you with the formulas used to calculate how your kilowatts used is billed by the electrical company. I am going to excite you to explain how to save money on your electric bill and certain ideas to keep a few pennies in your pocket. So lets begin.

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On a recent inspection in Webster Florida we had a client asking about how to lower the electric bill. The first way is to check the insulation in your attic as heat loss and cold air will be a big factor. But she went on and stated that the insulation was not the problem. What she was referring to was that from one year ago til that day she knew she used less electric as certain appliances and devices weren’t being energized but got the same bill. This is what brought about this blog and how we assisted her to find out what was going on in the home.

There are several types of ways to perform an energy audit. You have the blower door type, you can have assessment from the electrical company to analayize your electric bill then you have what we did. We did an assessment of her kilowatts used in the past 12 months. They usage was about the same per month. However, our client insisted that certain devices and appliances were not being used as she was traveling and turned off certain ones. This is what really brought “the raised eyebrow” If you are being billed a similar amount but using less electric yes the bill should be lower. So here is what we did.

First thing we did was to make sure that the panel box had no double taps. Maybe a neighbor had tapped into their electric box. (Could happen since they are on the exterior.) Then we turned on the appliances. The dishwasher, heat-pump, let hot water in the shower run for 20 minutes so the elements on the new hot-water heater were energized and the well pump was pumping water.  We turned on the oven and stove to assimilate we were cooking. (we did make coffee)  Then had all the lights on with ceiling fans going. And finally lowered the temperatures on the refrigerator and chest freezer to engage the compressors to turn on. Now keep in mind we did check the windows to make sure there was no heat loss. The windows were energy efficient and installed correctly. We even used an infrared camera to determine if there was any difference in temperatures. And for the most part they were fine. So, what is causing this issue.

As the appliances were in full energized mode we went to each one and checked electrical connections, insulation, and checked any electrical components. So first we checked the hot-water tank. That was performing perfectly. Then went down the list of the above mentioned appliances. And here is where it got interesting.

When we checked the loads and amps being used we found 3 aging appliances. We found that the chess freezer was over 12 years old. The gasket on the door was in its bonus life. This could affect the appliance to work more as it is loosing cold air. Then moving forward we checked the fans, the heat-pump and the oven. All working perfectly. So as we are nearing the end of the audit the last appliance we tested was the well pump, faucets and hose bibs. And here is where we found the culprit making the electrical bill high. The hose bibs on the side of the home were dripping. Just enough for the well pump to engage. Then checking the load on the well pump we found that the motor was engaging high amperage. To the point that the breaker did not trip as it was an incorrect breaker installed. The wingdings in the motor were winding faster and drawing more amperage then recommended. And with the incorrect breaker the breaker did not trip. And this would make the electric bill high.

So, in closing we found that that freezer gasket needed to be replaced as this could allow cold air to escape and which would engage the compressor to come on more then it should. The hose bibs were leaking enough for the well pump to engage and the well pump motor using more amperage then it should. Now keep in mind the home owners were traveling so alot of the devices were not energized but the major components were being worked more and defective. This audit assisted the home owner to know how to get the correct repairs and safety devices replaced.

If you feel that your energy bill maybe high let us perform an energy audit on your home. For a minor fee it could save you more then you realize. We perform this type of service in Hernando, Clearwater, Lakeland and Land O Lakes Florida all the time and have helped home owners save on their electric bill. For more information feel free to call us anytime at 352-322-2700 or look us up at http://www.emeraldinspectionservice.com  Thank You.

GFCI Receptacles and Breakers

Our last 2 blogs have been on electrical. Double taps and AFCI circuit breakers. This will be the 3rd part of the electrical. The purpose of these 3 blogs were to show home owners electrical safety, electrical components and how the electrical theory has developed from the knob and tube wiring. So with that said lets begin with GFCI’s.

As we mentioned last week a GFCI receptacle is a device that shuts off an electric power circuit when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path, such as through water or a person. It is used to reduce the risk of electric shock, which can cause the heart to stop or cause burns. They can also prevent some fires, like when a live wire touches a metal conduit.

And as we mentioned last week the difference between AFCI and GFCI is one is to prevent fires mainly and the other to prevent shock. But with GFCI’s you also may have GFCI breakers. Yes I know, lets add bit more confusion. The main purpose of the GFCI breaker maybe, older homes that have had electrical upgrades. Especially from the 2 prong receptacles. You will see GFCI breakers protecting the kitchen and bathroom receptacles. But you may have a receptacle or ceiling fixture connected to these as well, in an adjoin room. Occassionally during a home inspection a GFCI Receptacle will be installed and installed improperly in a bathroom or kitchen. So it maybe necessary to have the GFCI breaker installed as well. 

So in conclusion. GFCI’s are very effective and a need for the home. However just like any device it has to be installed correctly. This as to not have any open grounds or reverse polarity. So please do not be an expert and think you can add these devices to your home, unless you are trained to do so. To find out more about this, feel free to call us at 352-322-2700. Look us on the web; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or www.brandonhomeinspectors.com  Thank you all again.

 

 

Insulation and Ventilation

No matter what part of the country you are in, this is winter season. Some of us in the North are experiencing freezing temperatures as the high. Where some of us in the South are experiencing mild temperatures in the 60’s. No matter where you are at, your attic, crawl space, basement, and ventilation systems should be proper. This weeks blog will discuss this topic in detail.

So, lets begin. For home owners that have a basement this area will get cold first. Its usually best to have the area set at a comfortable temperature when not in use. If its un-finished, then it maybe best to put a couple of heat lamps in the lights and have on at night. This is an inexpensive way to keep the chill from coming up into the living areas.

For those of us, who have crawl spaces with vents. Close the vents in the block. This will help keep the wind and cold from entering the area. If you have the ability to have lights in there, heat lamps at night also will help. Especially, if you have tile floors. The warmth will help keep the tile a bit warm and not that chill at 6am.

Alot of people think that closing the soffit vents in winter will help keep the house warm in the attic. As this may help the attic stay warm this will also hurt the roof. The attic is your main area for heat to escape. Yes even in winter. I recommend to make sure the soffit is not restricted so the air can enter and leave the home freely. I would recommend closing the gable vents though. This will help with the chill at night or if you live in the north the snow coming in.

Lastly, the insulation. Alot of people think oh. Let me just add more R-30 to the attic. Or I will insulate the rafters. Before doing that, check with a contractor. Over insulating an area is more harmful then no insulation. For example, if you have cellulose in the attic. There is a proper depth for the insulation. The insulation should be at that depth and not walked on. Insulating the rafters unless approved by a GC is sometimes harmful and will make the shingles sweat and per-maturely age them.  However, adding insulation to the floor joists in the basement area is an economical way of keeping the chill from entering the living areas.

The purpose of this blog, is that soon homes will need energy audits. By following some few tips to help with the keeping the energy bill low will additionally help you with the audit. We are in the process of obtaining the certification. For more information, visit us at; www.emeraldinspectionservice.com or call us anytime. 352-322-2700. We will be happy to perform an attic or crawl space inspection anywhere in Florida. We typically can perform this with a quick turn around in Tampa, Ocala, Clearwater and Polk City Florida.

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