October is Energy Action Month, and it’s often a time when people stop and take a minute to think about the energy efficiency performance of their home.  Have you taken steps around your home to save energy, only to see the initial benefits decline over time?  Perhaps you switched to more energy efficient light bulbs or installed a ceiling fan to help make your home more comfortable without racking up the energy bill.  Fortunately, Virginia Energy Sense is here to help. At first you might have observed that these changes helped you save power and shaved a little bit off your monthly bill. But now, it appears those steps you took don’t seem to have the same impact on your energy usage and costs that they once did.  If that’s the case, it may be time to consider conducting a home energy assessment. A home energy assessment is an easy way to identify opportunities to make your home more energy efficient.  And the best part about it is that the only thing investment required is your time. Assessments are valuable because many things in your home may not run or work as efficiently as they used to. For example, your AC unit may need to be serviced or cleaned – or you may simply need to change your air filter. Perhaps the weather-stripping and caulking around your doors and windows may be breaking down, allowing hot or cold air in, making your HVAC system (and your wallet) work harder. If you want to try to reduce the amount of energy you use at home and the amount of money you spend on your energy bill, grab some painter’s tape, a ruler, and a tissue, and read on. Checking Outside A key aspect of your home energy assessment is visually inspecting the outside of your home. This is a simple process that involves checking your doors, windows, and walls for holes and cracks, as well as inspecting accessible crawl spaces for the same. Be sure to turn off your furnace and shut all your windows and doors.  Once you’ve found any gaps, mark these with your painter’s tape.  You can then determine if they are repairs you can make on your own (most of the time, you can simply use caulk and weather stripping). Check Inside for drafts To conduct the indoor portion of your assessment, tape the tissue to your ruler to create a tool to help you identify drafts. Go through each room in your house and use the draft finder tool, marking draft areas with tape. If you have interior exhaust fans (kitchen and bathrooms are the most common places with these), then turn those off. For more tips, download our Do-It-Yourself (DIY) guide to help you improve the comfort of your home and reduce your energy bill.

Lesson Plans
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Get your students energized about responsible energy use! In partnership with the Virginia Department of Education, we’ve created fun, multi-day, Lesson plans to help you teach your students how to understand and conserve energy! They’re classroom-ready and free to use!