It’s never a bad idea to do an energy audit on your home, whether your motivation is shaving a few bucks from your energy bill or reducing your carbon footprint and helping fight global climate change. Here is a quick check list to get you started.
Reduce Air Leaks
Reducing air leaks can help you save up to 30 percent in energy costs each year. Make a list of places where you find noticeable drafts. Check baseboards, flooring edges, wall junctures, electrical outlets, window frames, doors, attic hatches, fireplaces and wall/window-mounted air conditioners. Caulking and weatherstripping are two simple and effective remedies for leaks that you find. Caulk is generally used for cracks and openings between stationary house components, such as around door and window frames, and weatherstripping is used to seal components that move, such as doors and operable windows.
Learn more about stopping drafts here.
Poor insulation can promote heat loss through walls and ceilings. Places where you should check include your attic hatch, pipe ductwork and chimney seals and vapor barriers under your insulation. Make sure attic vents are not blocked; and when checking the insulation in your wall, make sure to switch off your circuit breaker to make sure there’s no current running through outlets around which you’re probing. If you meet any resistance it means there is insulation.
Learn more about adding insulation here.
Evaluate your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) equipment annually. Check and clean filters, or replace as necessary. Update systems older than 10 years old. Insulate pipes or ducts that travel through unheated spaces, such as unfinished basements or attics.
Check the wattage of your light bulbs and switch to lower watt bulbs if possible. Compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) and LED bulbs may cost a bit more, but they will save you money in the long run. Also, consider your usage habits. Turn down the thermostat when you’re not around. Turn off unnecessary lights. Log in to the Energy Star website to use its Home Energy Yardstick which compares your home’s energy efficiency to similar homes throughout the country and provides recommendations for improvements.
Pro Energy Audits
Consider bringing in a pro once you’ve taken these initial steps. Professional audits generally include examining past utility bills, inspecting every room in your home, conducting a blower door test and taking air filtration measurements. Sometimes local utility offices offer free or discounted energy audits to customers.