Energy Audit For Your Home

by ritasimpson on January 26, 2014

in Home Owner Reference Guide

Saving energy is not only good for the earth; it’s good for your pocketbook. A professional energy audit is the best way to go, but you can also conduct a DIY audit that may reveal the main areas of your home where energy efficiency can be improved.

Regardless of if your home was built in the 1960s or within the last five years, energy-saving technology has evolved so rapidly that it’s worth the time to do a walk through and make any necessary improvements.

Here are some steps you can take on your own:

• Locate and seal air leaks:

The potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home may range from 5 percent to 30 percent per year, and the home is generally much more comfortable afterward.

Check for indoor air leaks, such as gaps along the baseboard or edge of the flooring and at junctures of the walls and ceiling. Also check for leaks on the outside of your home, especially in areas where two different building materials meet. Look for cracks and holes in the mortar, foundation, and siding, and look for leaks around windows and doors.

Once you’ve found the leaks, you should plug and caulk holes and seal gaps or cracks with the appropriate materials, typically found at your local hardware store or home improvement store.

Make sure you don’t seal up the house too tightly. When sealing any home, you always must be aware of the danger of indoor air pollution and combustion appliance “backdrafts.” Backdrafting is when the various combustion appliances and exhaust fans in the home compete for air. An exhaust fan may pull the combustion gases back into the living space. This obviously can create a very dangerous and unhealthy situation in the home.

In homes where a fuel is burned (i.e., natural gas, fuel oil, propane, or wood) for heating, be certain the appliance has an adequate air supply. Burn marks or soot around the appliance burner or at the vent collar, or visible smoke anywhere in the utility room while the appliance is operating, indicate poor draft. When in doubt, contact your local utility company, energy professional, or ventilation contractor. Learn more about proper

• Check your insulation!

If you’re in an older home, the level of ventilation is likely inadequate. The heat and air loss via the ceilings and walls in your home could be very large, depending on when the home was built and what the insulation requirements were at the time.

Make sure the floor of your attic, including the hatch, is insulated, and that the material isn’t crumbling or compacted, which means it has lost its effectiveness. Similarly, check your basement ceiling, as well as basement walls. Hot water pipes and furnace ducts should be insulated, as should exterior walls (determine this by carefully removing the cover from a power plug, or drill a small hole in the back of a closet).

If you live in snow country, an easy check for insulation is comparing how fast the snow melts on your roof compared with the neighbor’s. If it melts quickly, you have poor insulation.

• Check your heating and cooling equipment

Heating and cooling usually account for the biggest home energy loads. To reduce waste, check to see if your furnace filters look dirty. If so, swap them out (usually needed every month or two during the heating season). Or invest in an electrostatic permanent filter, which cuts down on waste and does a much better job of cleaning the air.

If you have central air conditioning, check the coils both inside (usually in the basement) and outside. If they have dirt on them, carefully vacuum it off (you may need to first remove the protective grilles).
Make sure all your vents are open in rooms you want cooled, but close the ones in rooms you hardly use. Ensure vents are clean and unobstructed. Vacuum away any dust.
Examine ductwork for dirt streaks, a signal that you’ll find a leak. You can often fix problems with duct tape or insulation. If your ducts look very dirty or worn, call a professional to get an estimate on a thorough cleaning or replacement.

• Switch to energy-efficient lighting

Energy for lighting accounts for about 10 percent of your electric bill. Examine the light bulbs in your house and consider replacing inefficient bulbs with incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Your electric utility may offer rebates or other incentives for purchasing energy-efficient lamps.

• Upgrade appliances and electronics

The appliances and electronics you choose and how you use them affect your energy use and costs. Upgrade to energy-efficient items when old ones need replacing. Unplug appliances that aren’t in use to prevent phantom loads.

The The CALIFORNIA ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®  has a Energy Audit Program called R.E.A.P.  which provides rebates of up to $250 on a Home Energy Rating System (HERS) home energy audit conducted by a certified HERS rater.

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Post by Rita Simpson

Rita has written 468 articles.

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