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Symptoms of Common Home Energy Problems

Some home energy problems are unmistakable - like high electricity bills, for example. Others are less obvious. No matter what the symptoms are, it's important to get an accurate diagnosis, along with a foolproof prescription for eliminating each problem. That's where Dr. Energy Saver comes in.

As you'll see below, many home energy problems don't just waste energy and force you to spend money that you'd rather use for other purposes. Home energy problems may pose health risks to family members, and they also diminish the value of your home.

High electric bills.

There are many opportunities to waste (and thus save) electricity in the average house. Inefficient appliances and lighting often contribute to excessive electricity usage. An inefficient electric water heater or heat pump could also explain a high bill. "Phantom" electrical loads are a final factor, since many home electronic devices consume power in "standby" mode.

High oil or gas bills.

If your house is heated with fuel oil, propane or natural gas, then it's worth replacing an old, inefficient furnace or boiler with a new Energy Star™ model. An outdated furnace or boiler can be only 60% efficient at converting fuel to heat, compared to 90% efficiency for newer equipment. Similar efficiency (and savings) gains are possible with water heaters fueled by oil or gas. Air leakage and inadequate insulation are also major contributors to high heating costs.

Frequent allergies, eye irritation and respiratory problems.

These health issues are most often found in houses that have forced-air heating and/or central air conditioning systems. Airborne irritants (mainly dust and mold spores) can result from leaky ductwork, dirty air filters, or a mold infestation somewhere in the house (See "Mold & mildew" below).

Ice dams.

A buildup of ice along the edge of your roof means that heat is leaking into your attic from the living space below. Snow melts high up on the roof, and the esulting water freezes along the colder eaves, causing a thick ice layer to form - damaging both your roof and gutters, while also causing water leaks.

Cold drafts during winter months.

Leaks in your home's building envelope allow heated air to escape and an equal amount of cold outside air to enter the living space. By performing a blower door test, Dr. Energy Saver can pinpoint the leak locations that need to be sealed for improved comfort and energy savings.

Cold floors.

In the winter, cold floors can make you feel chilly even if room air temperature is warm. This problem often results from inadequate insulation, cold air infiltration, and incorrect or inadequate insulation.

Condensation on windows.

Beads of water on window glass during winter months usually indicate poor ventilation in kitchen and bathroom areas. This unwanted moisture can also occur when a house has older windows that aren't energy efficient.

Rooms that are too hot during the summer.

One or more upstairs rooms may be uncomfortable during hot weather due to duct leakage, inadequate attic insulation or too much direct sunlight coming through older windows that lack reflective coatings.

Running out of hot water.

An old or undersized tank-type water heater may not be able to keep up with household hot water demand. Older tank-type water heaters have another major disadvantage: They waste a lot of energy.

Mold & mildew in basement or crawl space areas.

You may not be able to see the splotchy stains that indicate mold or mildew, but you'll be able to smell the musty odor. A mold infestation relates to energy performance because it is often caused by air leaks, poor ventilation, and incorrect insulation.

Mold in attic areas

Dark stains on the underside of roof sheathing indicate that moist air from the living space is leaking into the attic and condensing on attic surfaces. Kitchen and bath vent fans that exhaust air into the attic rather than outside the house also cause attic mold.

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