DIY Energy Audit

  • By Jeremy Thompson
  • 01 Oct, 2013
As a follow-up to our last blog, How to Prepare for an Energy Audit, this time we’re going to tell you how you can do some of the work yourself! A DIY energy audit won’t necessarily replace the more thorough audit offered by a professional, but you CAN conduct your own simple home walk-through to […] The post DIY Energy Audit appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.

Handy tools such as this energy meter are helpful in a DIY energy audit!

As a follow-up to our last blog, How to Prepare for an Energy Audit , this time we’re going to tell you how you can do some of the work yourself!
A DIY energy audit won’t necessarily replace the more thorough audit offered by a professional, but you CAN conduct your own simple home walk-through to pinpoint where energy is being wasted. You’ll come away from the process with a better idea of what areas in your home to address to conserve energy.

How To

As you walk through your home keep a list of areas you have inspected, and note what problems you find. The list will later help you determine what issues to address. Here are a few items to evaluate:
  1. Locate air leaks:Check for leaks around baseboards, floor edges, windows, doors, between walls and the ceiling, and around faucets, electrical outlets, pipes and wiring. On the exterior of the home check for leaks wherever building materials meet and look for cracks in the foundation and siding. Many holes are easily sealed by applying caulking or weatherstripping.
  2. Inspect the insulation:This guide from the Department of Energy offers a great explanation of how to inspect insulation, check its depth and determine R-value.
  3. Maintain your HVAC equipment:Inspect your equipment annually, and replace filters as needed (usually about once every month). A professional should clean and service your system about once a year as well. If your unit is older than 15-25 years, you may want to consider replacing your system with a newer, more energy-efficient unit.
  4. Replace lighting:Replace inefficient bulbs with energy-saving options, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
  5. Evaluate appliance and electronic use:Unplug electronics when they are not in use. Minimize your use of electronics, if possible. Purchase more efficient versions of appliances and electronics.

Cool Tools

While you may not have access to all the tools a professional energy auditor does, there are several cool tools on the market that may make your DIY energy audit easier and more thorough.
The IR-Blue is an affordable thermal imaging camera that uses an infrared sensor array to show a heat map and the temperature of an area. It connects to iPads and iPhones or Android phones using Bluetooth.
The Kill A Watt detector measures how much power your appliances or electronics are drawing even when the device is not in use. Testing appliances for how much energy they are wasting will encourage you to unplug such devices when they are not in use; plugging often used appliances into power strips makes it easier to switch the power off each night.
Some utilities offer a program where homeowners can control their energy usage with a digital energy management system. The system requires you to hook your appliances and electronics into smart plugs or relays which transfer information to a control panel. The device offers real-time information on your usage, so you can immediately determine what appliances are costing you the most money. Check with your local utility, and ask if they offer a similar program.

Other resources

Your local government or utility may offer a free DIY Energy Audit guide, like this one from the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development.
If you have the last 12 months of utility bills on hand, use the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick . You’ll enter basic information about your home, and the tool will compare your home’s energy efficiency against similar homes. Finally, the tool will recommend some energy-saving home improvements.
Next Steps
Photo Credit, EdinburghGreens
The post DIY Energy Audit appeared first on J. Thompson Builders .

J. Thompson Builders Blog

By 7052540976 15 Nov, 2017
Some of these considerations may not be in the forefront of your mind, but there is a long list of aspects you need to consider when building a new home. These should help to get you started thinking about some of the most important pieces of the home building process.
By 7052540976 15 Oct, 2017
This home is being built with our client’s specific wants and needs in mind. The homeowner
requested a single family home with a modern contemporary house design. Previously, he lived
in a townhome and desired a more private, spacious residence. A main floor living with a large
space to entertain and big volume ceilings were a must on the client’s list.

The client decided building as opposed to finding a pre-existing home was a better solution for
him because he wants something specific to his needs. He already had the perfect location in
mind and it was time for him to own his dream home.

The area is ideal for this client because it allows him to live in close proximity to his hobbies and
interests and it also allows him the ability to walk to nearby restaurants or bike to the
surrounding shops. This homeowner will be close to everything. He truly loves the location!
The design concept picked is pictured below. In sticking with a contemporary influence, the
design has clean, simple lines that will result in an extraordinary modern home. We combined
elements of residential and commercial materials and design to bring our client’s unique requests to life.
By 7052540976 15 Sep, 2017

You decide that you are ready to build a custom home for you and your family. Now it is time to figure out how to finance your dreams!

Let’s start with the basics. As with any loan process, do your research. Talk to several mortgage companies that specialize or have a strong understanding/history of working with construction loans. Ask questions and voice your concerns. Companies of course want your business, but they also want to make sure they are a good fit for you and what you are wanting to accomplish. Reviews and referrals are strongly regarded these days. They want to make sure you have the best experience possible.

There are several main differences between a construction loan and a regular existing home loan. An individual construction loan may require a longer credit history  or a higher credit score as well as more money down and along the way. It is more of a process, but it is most certainly worth it. With the right builder, the more involved process becomes a piece of cake; but, that is an article for another time.

Home loans can have a 30 year term whereas a construction loan typically has a max of 1 year. “The rates on this type of loan are higher than rates on permanent mortgage loans. To gain approval, the lender will need to see a construction timetable, detailed plans and a realistic budget, sometimes called the “story” behind the loan,” as reported by  bankrate . While your home is being built, it is typical to make interest-only payments. 

If you are thinking, “I don’t have enough money to pay off a newly built home in 1 year!” Don’t panic.

A popular option is the construction-to- permanent financing sometimes called “one-time close,” a “single close,” or an "all-in-one" loan. Upon completion of construction, the remaining loan balance is converted into a permanent mortgage with terms up to 30 years. Like most loans, “the rate and other terms of the permanent mortgage are set up-front when the entire loan package is closed” according to the  National Association of Home Builders .  Construction/permanent loans are offered by many different lenders, including banks and mortgage companies and are a great option for those of us wanting to finance their home purchase over an extended period of time.

Another option is a stand-alone construction loan. This type of loan can be beneficial if you currently own your home and want a smaller down payment option.   Read more about stand alone construction loans.

There are many different loan options. What makes sense for one person doesn’t make sense for everyone. Make sure you find the right product for you and your particular project. If you want to talk over some options, contact us! We would love to hear your ideas and figure out how we can build your dream home.

View our work , read our reviews on Houzz.com , and visit our Facebook page to get inspired!
By Jeremy Thompson 01 Aug, 2017
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With more and more people working from home or taking at least the occasional “work from home” day, the home office has become an essential part of a home plan. Even if you don’t work from home ever, the home office is still a great area to work on creative projects, store important files, or […] The post Designing a Home Office: Increasing Productivity, Inspiring Creativity appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
By Jeremy Thompson 15 Jun, 2017
We’ve offered you lots of advice over the years about building a custom home. Here is a condensed version of some of the most important tips to follow. Get on the fast track to planning your new custom home! 7 Tips for Building a Custom Home Pay attention to your subdivision covenants. Yes, these are […] The post Building a Custom Home: 7 Quick Tips appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
By Jeremy Thompson 01 Jun, 2017
Whether building a house or undertaking a remodel you have the opportunity to design your house to suit your tastes and needs. There are many flooring options available, each with unique characteristics and design. Since flooring is a long-lasting part of the house it is important to choose the right floor for each room that […] The post 5 High-Quality Flooring Options Available for Your Home appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
By Jeremy Thompson 15 May, 2017
Building a new home is an exciting time, filled with anticipation and satisfaction as you watch your vision come to life. However, it can also be a little overwhelming when you’re unfamiliar with some of the technical terms. To help remedy this we’ve defined a few of the custom home building terms you may hear […] The post 5 Key Terms to Understand in Custom Home Building appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
By Jeremy Thompson 01 May, 2017
Whether you’ve just unpacked your first box or you’ve been living in your house for years, chances are there’s something about your home you’ve desired improving. However, before beginning a project there are a few key home remodeling terms you should become familiar with. Understanding these terms will help you navigate conversations with your remodeling […] The post 6 Key Home Remodeling Terms to Understand Before Beginning a Project appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.
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