As a homeowner, you’re likely aware of signs of energy issues in your homes, such as rising bills or observable air leaks. Many energy problems, however, are less obvious, and you need to be aware of the signs in order to accurately diagnose the issue. Many energy issues are about more than wasting power: they can lead to health and safety issues and eat away at the value of your house. A well-informed homeowner, though, can take proactive steps to address and eliminate those problems.
Rising utility bills are an obvious sign of energy issues, though finding the exact source of the rising cost often requires a little more digging. Increased electric bills are often caused by inefficient lighting or other appliances–the air conditioner is the biggest power hog in most homes, with the refrigerator a distant second. High heating bills are usually the fault of an aging furnace or boiler, perhaps one with maintenance issues. Inadequate insulation and lack of air sealing can also cause heat to leak out of the home, increasing costs.
Cold and Ice
One serious sign of an energy issue is a buildup of ice along the edge of the roof during the winter. Usually, this means heat is leaking into the attic, causing ice to melt and then re-freeze in the gutters; over time, this can cause roof and gutter damage in addition to increased heating costs. Cold drafts and cold floors in the winter months may also be signs of inadequate insulation and cold air infiltration.
You might notice that certain rooms are too hot or too cold despite how your thermostat is set. This could be a sign of poor insulation or leaks in the duct system. You might also have too much warm or cool air coming in around the edges of older, poorly sealed, and insulated windows, putting extra strain on the system.
Mold and Mildew
In addition to being a source of respiratory problems, mold growth is often a sign of an energy usage problem. Mold thrives in poorly ventilated areas and can also grow on incorrectly applied insulation. If you see dark stains on the underside of roof sheathing, there might be moist air from living spaces leaking into your attic, causing attic mold.
Allergies, eye irritation and trouble breathing can all be signs of excessive dust or spores in the air. In addition to the aforementioned mold and mildew issues, dust in the air could be a sign of leaky ducts or dirty air filters, both of which can seriously hurt both the indoor air quality and your home energy performance.
If you have any reason to suspect an energy performance issue in your home, the first step to resolve it is to find out more. Call us at (413) 200-4203 to speak with one of our energy performance experts and schedule a home energy audit.