How and Why to Do an Energy Audit in Your Home

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Saving Money by Assessing Your Energy Use
If your home isn’t optimized to be as efficient as possible, then you might as well be burning money to keep warm. Well, maybe that’s an exaggeration, but in the long run, energy inefficiency in your home can cost you much more than it would to fix it, no doubt about that.

Not only that, but using more energy than you need to is ecologically unsound.

So, how do you make sure your home is helping you get the most bang for your energy buck? By performing an energy audit. You might get a more thorough result by bringing in a professional, but there are plenty of things you can do on your own to make sure your home is as efficient as possible. Let’s take a deeper look at how to start the process of a home energy audit.

Optimizing Your Lighting Efficiency

If you’re still using older-style incandescent bulbs, think about upgrading to compact fluorescent bulbs or LED bulbs. Not only do these bulbs use less energy, but they give off less heat, thereby decreasing your summer cooling costs. You should also make sure you’re using the right bulb for the job. Don’t waste energy by using a 100 watt bulb where a 60 watt will do the trick.

types and shapes of compact fluorescent lightbulbs CFL

Climate Control Equipment

Your heating and cooling equipment can also increase your energy costs if it is not up-to-date and well-maintained. Make sure your heater’s filter is changed or cleaned every two months, especially during the cold season. If your heater is over a decade old, you might want to think about replacing it with a more efficient, newer model.

Finally, make sure your ductwork is adequately sealed and insulated. It should be free of holes and dirty streaks near the seams, and ductwork that passes through uninsulated areas in your home should be insulated, to avoid losing heat.

Checking Your Insulation

It’s not a bad idea to double-check the insulation in any home, but this goes double if you live in an older house. Energy costs were not nearly as high when your house was built, and you may find your charming old bungalow’s insulation to be woefully inadequate. You should also check to make sure that your insulation is properly installed.

While you’re at it, make sure that your insulation has a vapor barrier beneath it. The vapor barrier prevents excessive water vapor from getting into your home, which decreases insulation’s effectiveness and can damage your home’s structure.

Checking for Air Leaks

Air leaks are a major culprit when it comes to rising energy costs. If your home is leaking air, then you are paying too much to heat and cool your home. You can test for air leaks in your home by closing all of the windows and doors, and turning on all of the exhaust fans in your kitchen and bathrooms. This will create a low-pressure zone in your home that will make air leaks easier to detect.

Next, light a stick of incense to use as an airflow indicator. Hold it near anywhere outside air might be able to get in. Some good places to check are your baseboards, windows, doors, attic hatches, and electrical outlets. If the incense seems to be moving a lot in one direction, you’ve found a leak (or an evil spirit, but hopefully just a leak).

Make a list of all of the leaks you find and then seal them. Doing so can save you up to 30% on your yearly energy costs.

A word of caution about sealing air leaks in your home… if you have appliances that burn fuel for heat, make sure they have proper ventilation, as failure to do so can cause dangerous conditions in the home.

[Photo Credit: Doctor Energy; energyinformative]

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