Conducting A Home Energy Audit

By Jenny Griffin

Doing an energy audit can lower energy bills, create a healthier environment, and reduce your carbon footprint.

A home energy audit is an assessment of the energy being used in the home, and making sure it’s being utilized in the most cost effective way.

When conducting such an assessment, the goal is to reduce unnecessary energy use, while maintaining the comfort of the home for the inhabitants.

This page looks at what an audit can acheive, information about DIY and proffesional audits, and a quick checklist of what to look for when auditing your house’s energy use.

Why Do An Energy Audit?

Your home may have been built with flaws, or it may have developed flaws over time, which can cause energy consumption to be higher than it need be.

By identifying problem areas you will gain insight as to what you need to do to improve, so that less energy is used in the home. Less energy use means greater efficiency, which means you get to live just as comfortably, while paying less money on your monthly electricity bill.

This not only reduces the drain on your wallet, but also goes a long way to reducing the drain on non-renewable energy resources, and the consequent carbon emissions that these are responsible for.

Quick Online Assessment

For U.S residents, the Energy Star website offers an online interactive tool, the Energy Star Home Energy Yardstick, which allows you to quickly assess your energy use compared to other homes of similar size across the country.

All you need are your energy bills for the past 12 months, and to provide some basic information about your home and energy usage habits. Once completed, the site also offers recommendations to improve energy efficiency.

Get a Professional Energy Assessment

If you want a more thorough assessment, complete with recommendations, you could call a professional home energy auditor.

Professional energy auditors utilize the help of specialized technical equipment, such as blower doors and infrared cameras, to conduct the audit in order to get more specific results.

This will give you the most accurate assessment of where the problem areas lie, and what you can do to improve the overall energy efficiency of your home.

DIY Energy Audit

You can do a DIY energy audit to assess how serious the situation is. If the problems are mild, you can take steps towards DIY solutions. (scroll down for audit checklist)

Make a list of things you need to check and take note pad and pen in hand as you conduct the audit. Take notes of all the things you can fix yourself, and the things for which you’ll need to call for professional help.

A Quick Home Energy Audit Checklist

What kind of problems should you be looking for? Start with the most obvious and glaring faults in the home.

  • Air Leaks: Air leaks will cost you when it comes to both heating and cooling. Check windows, doors, electrical outlets, attic hatches, air conditioners, and baseboards, for leaks.

    If you can see sunlight around a window, there is a leak. Caulk in whatever gaps you can.

  • Insulation: If your home is inadequately insulated, you could lose a lot of heat through the walls and ceiling, which results in excessive energy required for artificial heating in winter.

    Similarly, your home may get very hot in summer, requiring mechanical cooling measures, which consume high levels of electricity.

    Check the attic, and if possible also the exterior walls to determine if your home is sufficiently insulated. While inspecting the attic, also check for air leaks that may need to be caulked or weather stripped.

  • Lighting: Check the wattage of the bulbs at use in your home.

    If they are of high wattage (such as 100 watts), they can be replaced with lower wattage bulbs.

    Softer light will suffice in areas where you relax, while you may need stronger light for study areas.

    Fluorescent bulbs help save energy in places where you spend most of your time and lights are kept on for hours at a time.

  • Heating/Cooling: Check and clean the filters of your forced-air furnace every month. A professional cleaner should be called annually.

    If your equipment is older than fifteen years, a newer model is likely to provide greater efficiency, and decrease energy consumption.

    A short term investment could lead to long term returns as newer models are far more energy efficient than older versions. Also check the ducts of heating and cooling units for leaks.

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