Home energy audit

Energy Audit

Defining an Energy Audit

Are you confused by the term, "home energy audit?" Do you think you could be saving money on your home energy bills, but don't know where to start? Consider a home's energy audit, which is the first step in assessing your home's energy consumption. An audit will also help you evaluate what measures you can take to make your home more energy efficient.

Here is what a home energy audit will do:

* Show you where problems exist and how correcting them could save you money
* Help you pinpoint where your home is wasting energy
* Determine the efficiency of heating and cooling systems
* Show you how to conserve hot water

Do-It-Yourself Audit

Perform an Online Energy Audit
If you decide to conduct an audit yourself, start with a diligent "walk-through" of your home or office. Make a list of obvious air leaks (drafts). Look for problems along the baseboard, at junctures of walls and ceiling. Include such things as electrical outlets, attic hatches and fireplace dampers. The potential savings in fuel from draft reduction may range from 5 percent to 30 percent per year. Keep a list of area you inspect and the problems you find.

Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. Consider replacing old windows with newer, high-performance ones. If you have difficulty locating leaks, consider an infrared camera scan (Wheat Belt can do an infrared camera audit for $45/hour portal to portal).

On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet. Plug and caulk holes for faucets, pipes, electric outlets and wiring. Look for cracks and holes in the mortar, foundation and siding. Check the exterior caulking of windows, and be sure that outside doors seal tightly.

Remember that heat loss through the ceiling and walls in your home can be very large if the insulation levels are less than recommended. Look for openings in the attic for pipes and ductwork.

Checking the insulation levels of exterior walls is more difficult, and you should probably have us help you. What is important to remember is the wall cavity should be totally filled with some form of insulation material and that the higher the insulation rating, the greater your energy savings will be.

If your basement is unheated, determine whether there is insulation under the living area flooring. If your basement is heated, your foundation walls should be insulated.

Inspect your heating and cooling equipment annually or as recommended by the manufacturer. If your unit(s) is more than 15 years old, you may need to consider a newer, more efficient one. Heating and air-conditioning typically make up 50 percent of a consumer's home energy costs, so a more efficient unit will go a long way toward reducing your energy costs.

The cost of lighting your house accounts for about 10 percent of your electric bill. Look at the wattage size of light bulbs in your house; make sure you aren't using larger wattage bulbs than you need. Consider compact, fluorescent lamps for areas that are often illuminated.