By Brittany Williams, SaveOnEnergy.com
Every energy-efficient upgrade you make to your home will add value and save you money on your energy bill. However, buying new appliances or replacing your windows isn’t always the smartest way to maximize your home’s energy-saving potential. Your best bet is to conduct a home energy audit before you make any significant changes.
Having a professional conduct a home energy audit is the most accurate option. An energy auditor typically goes into great detail, assessing your home’s energy consumption by inspecting inside and outside your home, conducting a blower test to find air leaks and performing a thermographic test to determine insulation levels in your home. Your energy auditor will then evaluate ways you could save, leaving you with recommendations to maximize your energy savings. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, you could save up to 30 percent on your energy bill by implementing recommendations from your audit.
While a professional energy audit is a great tool, it can cost up to $500. If that’s not in your budget, this is an area of homeownership where you can save money and do it yourself.
Your own energy audit won’t be nearly as exhaustive as a professional audit, but it can give you a clearer picture of where your home needs improvements. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
- Check for air leaks: Walk around your home — inside and out — and search for areas that might be leaking air. Common leak sites include electrical outlets, vents, baseboards and your fireplace. If you notice anything obvious, purchase a tube of caulk from your local home-improvement store and seal it immediately.
- Complete a pressurization test: Not all leaks will be obvious. To find smaller problem areas, you’ll need to conduct a DIY pressurization test.
- Inspect your ductwork: Heating and cooling make up more than half of the average home’s energy bill, so it’s smart to make sure your ductwork is functioning properly. Check for dirt streaks — they are a sign of air leaks — and seal any problem areas with duct mastic, a water-based, weather-resistant sealant. While you’re at it, make sure your ducts are insulated appropriately. Experts recommend an insulation R-value of at least 6. R-value measures insulation’s ability to resist heat traveling through it. A higher value indicates a higher resistance.
- Examine your insulation: All the caulk and duct mastic in the world won’t make much difference if there’s not adequate insulation in your home. You can do a quick check through the outlet. Just turn off your breaker, unscrew the outlet cover and stick a screwdriver through the hole. If you feel some resistance, you have insulation. Unfortunately, that doesn’t give you an idea of how much insulation there is or indicate that it’s in all the walls. If you’re willing to spend a little money, a thermal leak detector can give you a more accurate picture. Black & Decker makes a model that retails for less than $40. It changes color to show you hot or cold spots. An irregularity could mean there’s not enough insulation.
About Brittany Williams and SaveOnEnergy.com
Brittany Williams is a copywriter for SaveOnEnergy.com. SaveOnEnergy.com has built a reputation as an exceptional resource for all energy consumers by partnering with many of the most popular retail energy suppliers in the industry. Since its creation in 2003, SaveOnEnergy.com has helped millions of residential and commercial shoppers find great rates on electricity and natural gas.
Note: This is a guest post; the views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of Redfin.