Home Energy for NC Homeowners

North Carolina homeowners have many options available to them to help lower their energy usage and save money on their bills. Depending on where you live, the starting point may vary. No matter where you start, start simple. “Efficiency First” is a phrase that denotes lowering energy and saving money through simple activities first – like caulking baseboards, sealing up small holes under the sink and installing a programmable thermostat – which can then be followed by larger projects like adding more insulation, repairing replacing heating and air equipment, and installing renewable energy sources.

See the information below to get you started on learning about what approaches to take in conserving energy at your home. Much of this information can also apply to small businesses, rentals or any building that is comparable to a place of residence.

Key: Use the links in the right sidebar to access resources mentioned below!

 

How can I lower my energy usage?

  1. Perform a basic Energy Audit on your own or hire a professional to complete an advanced one for you.
  2. Plan your home’s needed energy improvements.  Determine what you can do on your own or hire a professional to make the more costly, time-consuming or difficult work needed.
  3. Change your habits. Examples include:
    • Keeping the thermostat temperature up in the summer and down in the winter
    • Turning appliances not in use off
    • Use cold water as much as possible
    • Share energy tips with a friend!
  4. Assess your home for “low-hanging fruit”. Use the checklist linked to the right to walk you through a self-assessment of your home to find the easiest improvements first. Examples include:
    • Turning down the water heater temperature
    • Changing air conditioning filters
    • Replacing incandescent with compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulbs
    • Check the age of your appliances
  5. Seal the holes. Use caulk, form or a rigid type of board or wood to seal up holes that allow air and water to move into your home from the outside, or out of your home from the inside. Small holes matter!
  6. Fix your attic first. Attics can hold many keys to improving your home energy usage, but consult with a professional insulation company before starting any kind of work. It’s best to air seal the holes around your attic before you add new insulation, but depending on the type of ventilation you have, you may need to start there.
  7. Tune-up your heating and air system. North Carolina homes spend 40 – 45% of their electric and gas usage through heating and air systems. Have a professional tune-up your system to make certain that it’s operating safely and efficiently. A $200 tune-up may save you 10% on your utility bill!
  8. For additional options, consult the “Helpful Links and Resources” section to the right.

What does energy efficiency do for me?

  1. Saves you money by lowering your electric and gas utility bills.
  2. Makes your home last longer by working better.
  3. Improves the indoor air quality that your family and pets beathe every day.
  4. Increases the value of your home, so that when you sell it, it’s worth more.
  5. Corrects health hazards and safety issues from gas-emitting equipment.
  6. Lowers your home’s dependence on natural resources like oil and coal.
  7. Promotes environmental responsibility through managing resources better.
  8. Improves the comfort level of your home – temperatures are more steady throughout, hot and cold air are sent to rooms where they are supposed to be, and more!

What are the best ways to save money?

  1. Address the “low hanging fruit” first – fix small issues and make small improvements to save money immediately without spending much.
  2. Focus on your attic and heating and air system.
  3. Make improvements that last and are easy to use – install a programmable thermostat that helps manage your home’s heating and air system to save money.
  4. Change out incandescent lightbulbs for CFLs and LEDs to instantly reduce consumption.
  5. For additional options, consult the “Helpful Links and Resources” section to the right.

What can I do on my own?

  1. Purchase a few bottles of caulk, handheld foam and a few rolls of weatherstripping and seal up holes around the house. Caulk around baseboards to prevent air from coming in, foam up penetrations around plumbing lines under sinks and through walls, install weatherstripping to seal up doors and windows.
  2. Replace air filters in your heating and air system.
  3. Replace incandescent lightbulbs with CFLs and LEDs.
  4. Plant shade trees around outdoor heating and air equipment.
  5. Wrap your water heater with a blanket.
  6. Fix broken or falling duct lines and seal up the duct system with mastic.
  7. For additional options, consult the “Helpful Links and Resources” section to the right.

Looking for more DIY energy saving tips?

NC Cooperative Extension Home Energy Management Program’s website

DIY guides for air sealing, detecting air leaks, cleaning a dryer vent and more!

U.S. Department of Energy’s list of DIY energy saving projects!

Interested in lowering your home’s carbon footprint?  Click here to learn more about NC GreenPower, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit whose mission is to improve the quality of the environment in North Carolina through a statewide program that connects consumers with green energy and carbon offset providers.

How do I find the right help I need?

  1. Understand your problem first, then identify the right resource.
  2. Consult with a reputable resource, such as the Contractor Directory on this website.
  3. Look for professional certifications and accreditations – particularly for work that requires licensure (heating air air, for example).
  4. Ask for referrals from neighbors and other trusted resources.
  5. Obtain multiple bids and ask the right questions – consult a checklist of questions to ask before you hire someone.
  6. Still have questions? Email or call us for free help from our staff.