If you’re looking to conserve energy and increase the efficiency of your home, you might want to start by hiring a professional home energy auditor to perform an assessment of your residence. The process will include a top-to-bottom inspection, as well as blower door (and other) testing. And the result will be a report that details the areas in your home where energy waste is occurring. From there you can make adjustments that will make your home more airtight, increase efficiency, and lower your energy bills.
That said, it’s probably a good idea to monitor your energy usage and perform annual inspections in order to make sure you’re maintaining the integrity of your household where energy efficiency is concerned. Luckily, you don’t have to shell out the dough for a pro every time. Here are just a few energy checkup tips that homeowners can implement on their own.
- Pinpoint drafts. If you live in a house long enough, you’ll get a pretty good idea where drafts are, and these can signal air leaks between inside and out. You should also check out common areas where leaks can occur, including windows, doors, vents, pipes, and seams (like between floorboards and baseboards, for example). Even if you conduct a home energy audit and seal up any drafts you find, the wood in your home can swell and shrink with the changing seasons due to temperature and humidity fluctuations, or simple aging and settling. So it’s a good idea to perform your own annual inspection to see if anything has changed. If you’re not sure about a leak, light some incense, hold it near a suspected leak, and see if the smoke wavers in a breeze.
- Check insulation. In addition to looking for leaks in your home, it’s not a bad idea to think about rooms that tend to be hotter in the summer and colder in the winter than other areas of your home. This could be a problem with the dampers in your ductwork, something an HVAC technician can easily diagnose. But it might also signal issues with your insulation, which could not only make your home uncomfortable, but could also reduce your energy efficiency.
- Don’t skip the attic and basement. Any time you have exposed insulation, there’s a greater chance of deterioration, so it’s important to check these areas, even if they don’t get a lot of use (or any). If your batting or fill is starting to settle or suffer damage, it may be time to add more or replace it altogether in order to adequately insulate your home.
- Consider energy efficient upgrades. The lighting, appliances, and other electronics in your home can account for a large portion of your energy usage. And while these items can be expensive to replace, you might want to try paying for one upgrade a year in order to see how your energy bill responds. Over time you could save a lot by this method.
- Check your HVAC equipment. Generally speaking, you’re probably going to hire a professional HVAC technician to service your furnace, air conditioner, and ducts annually. But when it comes to simple tasks like choosing the correct air filter and installing it, or setting a schedule on your programmable thermostat, there’s no reason to pay for the pros. These are steps you can take on your own to ensure that your HVAC system remains efficient year-round.