Homes can waste energy in a number of ways – ranging from drafty windows to improper insulation. Energy losses aren’t always easy to spot, but they can result in drastically increased energy bills. These home energy audit steps can boost efficiency and potentially lower your energy costs by hundreds of dollars a year.
- Examine Your Energy Bills. Keep an eye on how much you spend from month to month and from one year to the next. Look for trends, and pay special attention to major changes. A large spike or gradual increase over time often indicates a decline in efficiency, which means you may be able to lower your energy costs if you find the source of the problem.
- Check Insulation. Insulation helps you keep warm in the winter and cool in the summer, and it’s absolutely essential to an energy-efficient home. The insulation in your walls is important, but attic insulation brings the largest benefits. Do a thorough check to make sure your attic walls, ceiling and floor are thoroughly insulated (a good indication that you need attic insulation is if the snow on your roof melts faster than on neighbors’ roofs in winter).
- Locate Drafts. Air can seep in and out of your house in countless places, and you can check any of them by holding up a stick of burning incense and watching the smoke. Important places to check for air leaks include windows, doors, ceiling fixtures, plumbing, range hoods, electrical outlets, and anywhere pipes, wires, ducts or vents enter your home. Once detected, leaks can be sealed with caulk, sealant or weather stripping.
- Inspect Your Ductwork. Ducts carry conditioned air to and from your furnace and central air conditioner. Broken and leaky ducts are a major source of energy losses, so check them periodically for holes, especially at places where joints are sealed. Ducts are usually made of thin metal that conducts heat easily, so consider having them insulated as well.
- Examine Heating and Cooling Equipment. Heating and cooling is the largest energy expense in most homes, so it makes sense to keep your HVAC in tip-top shape. Have your system professionally cleaned and inspected annually, and keep up with air filter changes. Furnace filters should be changed every month or two during winter, and A/C filters should be changed just as often during the summer months.