Do-it-yourself energy audit

Today’s typical family living in a three-bedroom, two-story home spends about $2500 in energy costs each year. To better manage those costs, consider conducting your own energy audit. It’s easy!

First of all, find out how much energy is being used by keeping a log and reading your meter each week. At the end of four weeks, add up the kilowatts used and divide it by the number of days to get your average daily usage. Once the audit is complete and changes made, monitor usage again or consider calling in a pro to complete a more thorough assessment.

The first step is to walk around the house and check the following for air leaks:

Inside

  • Gaps at baseboards and where walls and ceilings join
  • Around electrical outlets, switch plates, window frames and baseboards
  • Make sure there are no gaps or cracks in weather-stripping around doors, fireplace dampers, attic hatches, and air conditioners
  • Look for gaps around pipes and wires
  • Don’t forget mail slots
  • Inspect windows and doors for rattling or to see  daylight around door and window frames
  • Plug and caulk holes for faucets and pipes

  Outside

  • Look for leaks where two different building materials meet, such as siding and cement foundations
  • Make sure doors and windows as well as outdoor outlets, pipes and faucets are caulked properly
  • Seal cracks in the mortar, foundation or siding
  • Seal leaks around windows and doors  with appropriate material

Insulation

  • Inspect heating and cooling equipment annually
  • Check and regularly replace filters on forced air furnaces
  • Water heaters, hot water pipes, and furnace ducts should all be insulated

Appliances and electronics also affect your energy costs. Examine the appliances and electronics you use and how you use them, then estimate their energy use.

Energy for lighting accounts for about 10% of your electric bill. Examine the light bulbs in your house and consider replacing inefficient bulbs with energy-saving incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

This “do-it-yourself” home energy audit may not be as in-depth a professional home energy assessment, but it can help you pinpoint areas to address.