Back to the Appliance Repair resource page.
Energy audit can be conducted by professionals. But, you are also capable of conducting a useful energy audit. Below are areas that are important for you to check.
To begin with, walk through your house looking for obvious drafts and their sources. Simply eliminating drafts can save 5% to 30% per year. Next, perform the following checks.
- Preface: Turn off all appliances, fans, or other air generating devices. Close all doors and windows.
- Check along the baseboard or edge of the flooring.
- Check the junctures of the walls and ceiling.
- Check to see if air is flowing through electrical outlets, switch plates, window frames, baseboards, weather-stripping around doors, fireplace dampers, attic hatches, and air conditioners (like those mounted in a window).
- Check around pipes and wires, electrical outlets, foundation seals, and mail slots.
- Check to see if the caulking and weatherstripping is without gaps or cracks and is in good condition.
- Pay special attention as you check windows and doors for drafts. If the doors or windows do not close tightly, they will let in air. To deal with these problems, use caulking or weather stripping. Consider purchasing new energy efficient windows. Or, consider purchasing plastic sheets to cover windows. These are much cheaper than purchasing new windows.
- Check where two different building materials meet on the outside of your house (e.g., where the siding and chimneys meet, where the foundation and the bottom of exterior bricks meet). To deal with these problems, use caulking or weather stripping.
- Check all surfaces outdoors near windows or doors. To deal with these problems, use caulking, weather stripping, or replace small portions of the siding (if possible).
- Check all previous caulking or weather stripping. These might be problem spots which will require regular attention.
Heat loss through the ceiling and walls in homes can be a major cause of inflated energy costs. The Federal Government recomends a minimum amount of insulation. You should check to see if your home meets these reccomendations. If your home is old, it is very likely that the original insulation no longer meets the Federal reccomendations (see http://www.ornl.gov/sci/roofs+walls/insulation/ins_16.html for these reccomendations and more helpful information).
- Check to see if the attic hatch is at least as heavily insulated as the attic.
- Check to see if the attic is weather-stripped.
- Check to see if the attic closes tightly.
- Check openings for items such as pipes, ductwork, and chimneys. Insure these are well sealed. If not, seal them with an expanding foam caulk or some other permanent sealant.
- Check to see if there is a vapor barrier (retarder) under the attic insulation (e.g., tar paper, kraft paper attached to fiberglass batts, or a plastic sheet). If none exists, consider painting the interior ceilings with vapor barrier paint.
- Check to insure that attic vents are working properly and are not blocked by insulation.
- Check wall insulation
- Choose an exterior wall to test and turn off all power to any outlets in the wall.
- Check to make sure the wall outlets are actually turned off using a lamp etc.
- Take off the cover plate from one of the outlets (after you are sure there is no power to this outlet) and gently probe into the wall with a thin and long stick. Feel around to determine the amount of insulation that exists. Idealy, the wall should be totally fulled with insulation.
- Check to see if there is insulation under the living area flooring.
- Check to insure that your water heater, hot water pipes, and furnace ducts are insulated.
Heating and Cooling
- Check your filters and replace them when appropriate (for forced air furnaces, usually every month or two).
- Make sure your heating and cooling equipment is being checked and cleaned anually by a professional.
- For older units (e.g, more than 15 years old), consider replacing them with newer, energy-efficient units.
- Examine ductwork for dirt streaks, especially near seams. These are signs of air leaks and can be easily sealed with a duct mastic.
- Make sure all ducts or pipes that travel through unheated spaces are insulated.
On average, lighting costs will comprise about 10% of your electric costs (see below for more information).
- Check the wattage size of all light bulbs in your house. Make sure you do not have larger than necessary bulbs (e.g., using a 100 watt bulb where 60 or 75 watt bulb will saffice.)
- Consider purchasing compact fluorescent lamps. These can save hundreds of dollars over a long period of time.
Below is the national average for how power is used in America.
- 44% - Heating and cooling.
- 33% - Lighting, cooking, and other appliances.
- 14% - Water heating.
- 9% - Refrigerator.
Credits: US Department of Energy (http://www.eere.energy.gov/consumerinfo/factsheets/ea2.html)