How to do a DIY Home Energy Audit
By Great Lakes Window
If you have done all of the usual energy-efficiency improvements, like swapping old bulbs for CFLs and installing a programmable thermostat, you may be wondering why your bills are still high. Sometimes it takes a little more work to uncover the energy-inefficient culprits! A do-it-yourself home energy audit can be a good way to get started.
While a professional audit will dive deeper into all of the areas that could be improved, a DIY home energy audit should highlight some of the areas that require less of an in-depth fix. All it takes is a walk through your own home.
Look for Air Leaks
Some air leaks might be very obvious to you already. Drafts can come in at gaps along the edges of flooring or baseboard, and walls and ceilings. Air can also escape and blow in through leaks in switches, fixtures, and outlets.
Drafty windows and doors are a particularly big problem if you want an energy efficient home. A visual inspection for any cracks or gaps is a good first step. If the windows rattle, that movement can indicate air leaks, as can any daylight visible around a frame.
Some suggest you can pinpoint these window issues on a particularly windy day, with all of the windows, doors, and chimney-flue dampers closed. With a stick of incense in hand, wave it gently around the perimeter of the window and watch for changes in the rising smoke.
While weatherstripping or caulking can be a temporary fix for air leaks, for a long-term solution we suggest investing in modern vinyl replacement doors and windows, built to conserve energy in numerous ways.
Check Insulation Levels
Insulation recommendations have changed over the years, so if your home is older or simply seems it’s colder than it should be, consider checking the insulation. The easiest way to do this is through an attic hatch. A finished attic may reveal its insulation secrets under the floorboards.
As for walls, the methods are a little more invasive so consider your DIY comfort level. You can inspect through an electrical box, check behind baseboards, or cut a small hole in the drywall behind the baseboard, in a closet, above a kitchen cabinet, or in another inconspicuous area.
Inspect Appliances, Heating, and Cooling Equipment
Appliances and electronics have a big impact on your home’s energy efficiency. Look for ENERGY STAR® rated appliances if you are ready to replace outdated equipment. You can also unplug items when they are not in use, use any energy efficient settings, or use timers to reduce consumption.
Heating and cooling equipment should also be a part of your home energy audit. In fact, you should be inspecting this equipment, or having it inspected, at least annually. A simple cleaning or filter change can go a long way in improving energy consumption. Again, just like other items and features in your home, if it is time for an upgrade or the unit is particularly old, updating with a new energy efficient model is ideal.
Depending on what your DIY home energy audit reveals, you may want to confirm your finds or look more closely with a professional audit. With the information you have from your own assessment you can make the most of that expert help.
As for investing in new vinyl replacement windows, you can trust our team at Great Lakes Window to work with you to find the most energy efficient products for your home. to get started improving your windows and doors!