Odds are, if you were asked if you wanted to save some cash, your answer would be an enthusiastic yes. The good news is there are a number of ways to cut down your monthly expenses, the first step being a do-it-yourself home energy audit. This fast, relatively simple solution helps determine how much energy your home consumes and how you might make your home more energy efficient.
Simply put: a home energy audit will reveal where your home is losing energy (and therein making you pay more each month), how competent your heating and cooling systems are, and provide strategies to conserve electricity. To conduct the audit, all you need is a ready checklist for any problems you uncover as you check for the following.
Between the dead of winter and the blistering heat of a scorching summer, your heating and cooling systems get quite the workout. But if you have a draft anywhere in your home, your usage of these systems increases to compensate for the energy that’s going outside, and that hits you right in the wallet.
To see if you’re sending money out the window, inspect the gaps around your baseboards, wall and ceiling junctures, electrical outlets, switch plates, window frames, weather stripping, fireplace dampers, attic doors, window-mounted a/c units and foundation seals.
Look at the areas in question, specifically where the materials meet (ex. corners, places where brick and siding come together at the foundation or chimney). If your windows rattle, or if you can clearly see the sun shining around doors or window frames, odds are good that you’re losing air.
Once you know where the leaks are, get yourself some caulk, weather stripping, or the material that was originally used.
The homes most likely to have inadequate insulation tend to be older, but don’t write this step off if you have a newly constructed home, as it could be your walls or ceiling need some attention. Signs of sufficient insulation include sealed openings around pipes, ductwork, and chimneys, and a vapor barrier (like a plastic sheet or tarpaper) under the attic insulation. Your attic door should also firmly shut. To check your walls, select a closet or other out-of-the-way place and make a small hole in the wall. Probe the hole with a screwdriver. The outside walls should be completely filled with insulation.
If openings are uncovered, fill the gap with expanding foam. Seal electrical boxes with flexible caulk. Should you discover your home doesn’t have a vapor barrier, you might paint your interior ceilings with vapor barrier paint to prevent the movement of vapor and bolster your insulation’s effectiveness.
Heating and Cooling Equipment
Check your heating and cooling equipment. Look at the ducts and pipes that are located in unheated spaces and your water heater and hot water pipes to make sure they’re insulated. If you spy dirt streaks around the ductwork, particularly near the seams, chances increase that you have leaks.
A professional should check and clean your equipment on a yearly basis. Forced-air furnace filters should be replaced as soon as they get dirty—and every 30 to 60 days regardless of whether they’re dirty or not.
Some people need it super bright, but if you spot any places in your home that could function just as well with a lower-watt bulb, consider making some replacements. For those places in your home where your lights will be on for more than two hours a day, you can save up to 75% of the energy lighting consumes by making the switch to compact fluorescent bulbs.
A home audit is a great way to locate and correct any deficiencies in how your home consumes energy. Even simple improvements can help save you money in the long run. Questions on how to get started? Contact your HBA Home Pro today!