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