While it may not be â€œofficial,â€ conducting your own home energy audit can reap plenty of benefits for both your home comfort and energy usage. By combining a thorough inspection with a checklist or written record of your findings, you can create a list of priorities and projects that will improve the efficiency in your home significantly.
There are four major areas of your home that are involved in a home energy audit. The air flow, insulation, heating and cooling equipment and lighting will all need to be looked at, analyzed and possibly worked on to create the optimum conditions in your home.
Air leaks are a major source of energy loss in your home. Around your windows and doors, in the attic, venting systems and electrical outlets are all places where airflow will steal away heat and add to the overall energy usage.
With a few simple air leak tests you can pinpoint exactly where the heat losses are occurring. Check for gaps, cracks and holes in window and door frames, as well as any deterioration or breakage in weather stripping.
Apply caulking or replace weather stripping anywhere that you find a leak.
You'll need to conduct an air movement test in harder to see areas where hairline cracks may be causing a big problem. Run a lit incense stick along your baseboards, around your electrical outlet and switch boxes and along any molding and trim. If the smoke moves then you have an air leak and need to look at sealing it.
Insulation plays the dual role of trapping heat in your home and keeping it out. Not having enough insulation will cause the heating system to work overtime in winter and that problem will also allow too much heat to infiltrate your home in summer.
To check this out you'll need to go up into the attic. If you have blown-in insulation, make sure it is still evenly distributed and hasn't settled too much. If your home has fiberglass batting, make sure every area is covered well. Also check that there is a solid vapor barrier between your attic and the ceiling underneath.
Another way to check the condition and coverage of your insulation is by taking a look at the snow on your roof. Ice dams are a good indication that your insulation needs to be looked at.
Radiant barrier foil insulation is a good solution that can be installed on your own with only a few tools and a friend to help you out.
Heating and Cooling Equipment
Your furnace and air conditioner need to be inspected annually to ensure they are fully operational. Make sure to change the furnace filter regularly and test your air conditioner for optimum performance. If your furnace is more than 15 years old, it may be time for a replacement. Check out whether your local utility company offers a discount or rebate on a new energy efficient appliance.
Any holes, cracks and deficiencies in the ductwork will also have an effect on these systems. Be sure that your ducts are in good shape and that there aren't any blockages in the system. It's a good idea to give the openings (including the vent covers) a good vacuum.
Add R6 insulation to any ducts that travel through unheated space like the garage.
You can reduce your energy usage significantly by replacing all of your incandescent bulbs with energy efficient CFL bulbs. To spread the cost out, concentrate on one room at a time until your whole home is changed over.
Pay attention to which lights get used most often and consider installing timers on those that get left on.
By taking a look at these areas in your home you can get a good idea of the energy efficiency. It certainly won't be as detailed as an official home energy audit, but you can usually discover a few ways to improve efficiency and reduce your energy usage.Posted by: TrustedPros