Do It Yourself Home Energy Audit

Home Energy Audit

DIY Home Energy Audit

Having a professional Home Energy Audit is a great investment to make when you need help planning your home energy upgrades.  However, in the spirit of Mapawatt and empowering readers to take control of their energy usage, we'll offer the reader a "Do it Yourself Home Energy Audit."

There are four steps in this DIY Home Energy Audit:

1. Locate Air Leaks - One of the leading causes of energy loss in a home is through tempered air leaving the home or outside air entering the home through holes in the building envelope.  Do a visual walkthrough of your home, including attic and basement looking for areas where air can pass through the building envelope.  Common problems to look for are doors or windows with missing weatherstripping, uninsulated electrical outlets or switch plates, attic doors into unconditioned attics, etc.  You can do a basic pressure test on your home by closing all the doors and windows, closing the fireplace flue, turning off any combustion producing appliances and turning on all exhaust fans in the home such as in the kitchen or bathrooms.  Use a smoke pencil from a home improvement store or improvise by lighting an incense stick.  Place it around potential leak spots and watch to see if the smoke is blown by air sucking into the home.  A wet hand near potential leak areas will feel a cold breeze if there is a leak.  Leaks can be filled with caulk, weatherstripping or canned sprayfoam where applicable.

2. Inspecting Attic Insulation - If you have an unconditioned attic space, check the attic floor to make sure you have adequate insulation.  If the attic has batting, look for areas where the batting was pulled up or moved for service and put it back in place where necessary.  Insulation batting is not expensive.  Adding another layer if you think the insulation is lacking could save you on your energy bill.  For conditioned attics, check the eaves for proper insulation.  Consider adding more batting insulation or have a contractor spray in foam insulation for best R-value.

3. Inspect Heating and Cooling Systems -  Climate systems should be inspected regularly for proper operation.  Change air filters in systems regularly and consider getting a programmable thermostat and make sure you program it!  This could save major dollars if you are currently conditioning your whole home 24 hours a day.

4. Inspect Lighting - Upgrade your incandescent lighting to CFL or LED lighting if possible.  Lighting can be as much as 10% of your energy bill.  Installing motion sensors in rooms that automatically turn on and off lighting systems will also save money.

Make sure you keep a pad and pen with you as you conduct your audit to make an Energy Project List of issues that you can use later for your home energy upgrade projects!

If you give the DIY Home Energy Audit a try, visit our Energy 101 Community Forum and let us know how it worked for you!

For more information, please visit the Department of Energy site on Home Energy Assessments.

- The Mapawatt Team

enjoyed our post? let others know: 


There are many things that a homeowner can do. And I am sure that there are some ethical home energy auditors out there. However when I called a "professional" he had one agenda in mind. To sell me a $4,000.00 sealing package. Just wondering if I would live long enough to see a return on that investment! As always, buyer beware.
Mr. Health; While it is true that if someone went too far in trying to diagnose and repair a gas furnace or some same appliance without proper understanding of the potential dangers then yes, harm could result. Thankfully most homeowners will stop short of venturing into the combustion chamber to inspect for leaks. Or remove the burner manifold and bang it against the floor to get all the loose rust out. Or try to add refrigerant to an AC system. That's why we need articles and posts on sites like this one to at least motivate homeowners to get up off the couch and change a filter every once and a while. And yes add some more insulation to the attic, the crawl space and anywhere else they can stuff it, within reason of course. They need to put down the dag-gum cell phone and caulk a window or two and add some weather stripping around the doors while their at it. Oh well here I go, I'm just tired of big fat America always blaming someone else for our energy problems when our trumped up need for excess energy is killing the rest of the world. Us along with it. Thanks
You do our readers a great dis-service to even imply that they can do a effective energy audit... most can't... yes I read you first sentence but now you have planted the false impression that a home grown energy audit is beneficial... I doubt that. 1. without a blower door, infiltration is mostly guess work- you might get lucky and find 3% 2. oh sure just add another layer of batt insulation - another 3% solution 3. "inspect your heating system", that's just plain dangerous to suggest.... think carbon monoxide I'm sorry (as I am a serious "do-it-yourselfer") but we, our country and our planet, are in serious trouble. If we are to turn things around quickly we need serious and significant changes (think 50-90% energy reductions) NOW and that should include well trained and paid professionals. Al
Al, I appreciate your zeal for well trained and paid professionals. I think the best choice is to have a well-trained professional assess your home. However, there is no dis-service and no danger in empowering an individual to inspect and learn more about how they use energy. Are you suggesting that it's plain dangerous for someone to change their own filter in their furnace? How about inspecting duct work for air leaks and spreading a little mastic themselves? For those who can't afford or don't have access to a well-trained energy auditor in their area, I would rather they do what they are comfortable doing themselves and get help with remedies from professionals. For example, if they don't have a programmable thermostat, buy one and install it if you are comfortable with basic wiring and can read directions. If not, pay an AC service person to come out, inspect your climate systems and install the programmable thermostat for you. For programming advice, search for our article on the recommended settings for a programmable thermostat. ( If you check out the Department of Energy's website, they even have a whole page dedicated to Do it Yourself Home Energy Audits: I agree that we need to move on energy efficiency now. For those who can't afford or find a trusted professional, do what you can yourself. Every little bit will help when you put it to scale. - Powell

Post new comment

Subscribe to Comments for "Do It Yourself Home Energy Audit"