How to Conduct a DIY Home Energy Audit
Energy is precious, and wasting it unnecessarily can really do a number on both your wallet and the environment. On the reverse, identifying your home's unique inefficiencies and then addressing them (filling gaps in the attic, for example) can be the difference between a $100 utility bill and one closer to $50.
Ready to discover your home's biggest offenders? Follow these steps for conducting a DIY home energy audit and you'll find out exactly what's draining your wallet. Keep in mind, this process can take anywhere between two and four hours, so get ready to block out an afternoon!
Step 1: Locate air leaks
Drafty walls, attics, and crawl spaces are some of the biggest causes of wasted energy in your home, and sealing them can make a big difference!
Here's the quickest way to locate them:
Shut all windows, exterior doors, and flues, but leave all interior doors open.
Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside (i.e. your dryer, bathroom fans, stove vents)
Light an incense stick and pass it over common leak sites like door and window frames, attic hatches, vents, and electrical outlets.
See the smoke wavering or blowing an odd direction? You probably have a draft.
This is a simplistic way to locate air leaks in your home. Really want to get the job done right? Book a free consultation with one of our efficiency experts! They'll conduct an in-depth energy audit that includes both a thermal imaging scan and blower door score so you can be certain you're working with the best information possible.
Step 2: Examine your insulation
Heat loss through your ceiling and walls can be quite massive if the insulation levels in your home are less than the recommended minimum. Unfortunately, most homes in the United States are not well insulated. In fact, only 20 percent of homes built before 1980 are considered appropriately insulated. No good!
To find out if your home's insulation is up to snuff, follow these steps:
Fill out this form to determine your home's recommended R-value (a rating that measures thermal resistance to heat flow).
Submit the form and take down your results.
Grab a measuring tape or ruler, then head up to the attic and measure the depth of insulation you see around you.
Calculate your home's current R-value.
If your home's R-value is less than the recommended level for your climate region, you're probably losing energy. Ready to remedy the problem? Give us a call! Our efficiency consultants would be happy to help you determine the exact right solution for your home.
Step 3: Check the stickers on your windows
If your house has a lot of windows, you could be losing a great deal of heat. In fact, you'll probably feel the change in temperature closer to the windows!
If your windows have stickers, you'll want to take a closer look at their ratings. Specifically, you're looking for U-Factors — the number typically falls between 0.15 and 1.20. The lower the better!
Now it's time to see if those ratings are adequate for your living area:
Grab the R-value you previously calculated in Step 2.
Plug that R-value into this calculator and leave the U-value blank.
Mark down the resulting number. It's your recommended U-Factor rating!
If the U-Factor rating you calculated is significantly lower than that listed on your window, you're definitely losing energy. To solve the issue, we recommend replacing single pane windows one by one over time.
Step 4: Track changes over time
Make it to the end? By now you should have a pretty good idea of whether or not your home is performing efficiently or inefficiently, as well as which areas could be improved. Feeling drafts by the windows? Start saving up for replacements. Noticing a draft? Look into attic insulation and air sealing.
After that, you'll want to make sure you're keeping an eye on your monthly utility bills. Notice the ways that your bill fluctuates with the seasons, and start tracking savings as you make energy efficient home improvements. That satisfaction can't be beat!
Does this process sound like a headache?
Book a free consultation with one of our efficiency consultants instead! They'll handle everything at the highest level of professionalism so you can ensure you're getting the best actionable information possible.