Your home is your solace—a place to rejuvenate after a long day at work and to gather with family. But home is also your shelter from the elements.
When it comes to practical needs and comfort, you rely on your home for heat in the winter and cool air in the summertime. This can lead to high energy bills—especially if there are inefficiencies.
We’ve created this six-step guide to help you learn how to conduct an energy audit of your home so you can determine the best ways to conserve energy.
What Is a Home Energy Audit?
A home energy audit is an assessment of how much energy a home is consuming. It identifies ways to improve your overall energy efficiency. Also called a home electricity audit, it’s a room-by-room analysis of your home to target where energy is being wasted—making it possible to identify and prioritize improvements.
What Are the Benefits of Conducting an Audit?
Finding ways to improve your home’s energy efficiency is a valuable part of living a greener life. You’re able to make the best use of your home while adopting an earth-friendly mindset to carry everywhere you go.
6 Steps to Follow For Your Home Energy Audit
We’ve broken your energy audit down into the following six steps.
1. Create a Checklist
A checklist helps you keep track of locations you’ve assessed and any supplies or materials you might need for resolving issues you discover. Use your checklist to prioritize which optimizations will make the biggest difference.
As you go from room to room, be specific about what you find. This will help you plan ahead for the time you’ll take to make improvements. Checking off the progress you’ve made also makes for great encouragement along the way.
2. Find Air Leaks
Identifying and sealing air leaks can save as much as 10–20% on your energy use. Look for places where different building materials merge as potential leak locations.
Diagnosing Doors and Windows
Every door and window in your home is a place where air escapes. Pay close attention to the outside edges of their frames—if you can see even a sliver of daylight, air can pass. With the doors closed, place your hands at their base to see if you feel a draft.
Analyzing Other Areas of Your Home
- Look for leaks anywhere different construction materials meet.
- Check for gaps in your baseboard and where your walls and ceilings join.
- Search for cracks or separation around water faucets and vents.
- Scan the dampers on your fireplace to ensure they aren’t open or damaged.
- Inspect mail slots and doggie doors.
- Examine any window-mounted air conditioners.
Fixing Air Leaks
Follow the following steps to fix air leaks.
Doors and Windows
You can use weather stripping around window sashes—and around the top, side, and bottom of your doors—to seal gaps. Weather stripping is an easy, quick, and inexpensive solution to energy conservation that can truly make a difference.
If you have any gaps in your attic floor, use an expanding polyurethane caulk to seal them.
Faucets and Pipes
Use caulk to seal small leaks less than ¼” around faucets and pipes.
Use only fire-rated flashing and caulking to seal air gaps around your chimney.
3. Check Your Insulation
Insulation is rated on its effectiveness by its R-value.
What Is an R-value?
Insulation is rated for its ability to regulate temperature—called its R-value. This rating is directly related to its thickness. The higher the R-value, the more effective it is in preventing heat from entering or escaping where installed.
Insulation in Your Attic
Energy-efficient improvements in your attic can make a big difference. Using insulation with a high enough R-value for your location can help you regulate the overall temperature of your house.
Doing so creates an effective barrier, preventing hot or cold air from escaping through your attic. It also protects from outside weather, reducing how hard your HVAC has to work.
Architectural connecting points are often underinsulated in attic spaces because they are difficult to reach, fit, and fill properly. Cavity-filling foam and blown-in insulation remedy this the best.
Some insulation requires a vapor barrier to prevent evaporated water from turning insulation into a sponge. Vapor barriers can be plastic sheets or kraft paper. Cotton batts, loose-fill fiberglass, and fiberglass batts require vapor barriers, while extruded polystyrene (XPS) does not.
Other Places to Use Insulation
You can get better efficiency from other parts of your home by properly insulating your pipes, water heater, and an unheated basement directly under your living area, if applicable.
4. Audit Your Appliances
Assessing the energy efficiency of your home includes your major appliances. In most cases, older appliances use more electricity than newer ones. While replacing less efficient appliances is an easy way to reduce your energy use, it’s also an expensive change to make.
Consider whether it may be the right time to replace your oven, refrigerator, washer, dryer, or other appliances based on their age.
What to Look for in New Appliances
Look for ENERGY STAR appliances to conserve the most energy. These devices are designed for efficiency. For example, ENERGY STAR washing machines use less water in a cycle. In many cases, these appliances allow you to activate an added energy-saving mode for even greater efficiency.
5. Inspect Your HVAC System
Your HVAC system can account for 48% of your home’s energy use. The following are the two most impactful ways to improve HVAC efficiency.
Clean or Replace Your Air Filters
Air filters may be disposable or reusable. When dirt builds up on them, it blocks your HVAC’s airflow, making it work harder for a longer duration to reach the same results. Cleaning or replacing them helps your system run better.
Find and Seal Leaks in Your Ductwork
Checking for air leaks in your ductwork is an extensive process, but one you can carry out on your own by taking the proper precautions. Air leaks in your ductwork can mean losing air into your attic instead of the rooms in your home.
To locate any potential leaks, turn your HVAC on. Climb into your attic—stepping only on joists—and gently move insulation to expose your air ducts.
Feel for escaping air with your hands. Mark the location of any air leaks with a grease pencil. For smaller leaks, use incense or a smoke pencil held over ducts and watch if anything causes the smoke to move around. Use a ductwork seal called mastic and foil-faced tape to stop the leaks.
6. Check Your Light Fixtures
The lights in your home can account for as much as 15% of your energy use. Having a lightbulb moment with your lights is an excellent opportunity for simple changes that make an immediate improvement. Consider the following four improvements to get the most efficiency from your home’s lighting.
Lower Your Wattage
The first thing to note is the wattage each light source calls for. If you don’t see it printed on the fixture, you can search online to get an idea from similar items.
Many people believe a higher wattage refers to a bulb’s brightness. But watts indicate the power consumed—not brightness. If you’re using higher-wattage bulbs than the light fixture needs, a lower wattage will reduce the energy used.
Consider Fluorescent Lights
In high-use areas of your home, consider switching from incandescent bulbs to compact fluorescent lights (CFLs) for greater energy efficiency.
Make the Switch to LEDs
You can also trade your incandescent bulbs for LEDs, which produce the same brightness as a 60W incandescent bulb but use only 9W.
Turn Lights Off When Not in Use
You can take your efficiency a step further by setting up sensors that only turn lights on when you’re present, or simply adopt a routine of turning off lights you’d typically leave running.
Enjoying Your Energy-Efficient Home
Now that you’ve learned how to conduct an energy audit of your home, you can enjoy a sense of making the best use of everything it offers. Saving energy means wasting fewer of your home’s valuable comforts and resources.
If you’re interested in learning more, read our article on fixing air leaks.
Living a More Sustainable Life
Your home energy audit may have inspired you to seek other ways to live a more eco-friendly lifestyle. To learn more about how you can help the environment, check out our energy plans and enroll today.
Contact us with any questions or for next steps.