bmw usa cycles Others How to Conduct a Home Energy Audit For Energy Efficiency

How to Conduct a Home Energy Audit For Energy Efficiency

Almost a quarter of the total energy used in the U.S. is consumed right in our homes, so energy efficiency should be a vital part of our lives. On average, heating and cooling uses about 40 percent of a home’s total energy, while lights and heating water use another 20 percent, and large household appliances consume around another 15 percent of the total. That’s a lot of energy going into our homes, and with ongoing concerns about energy shortages and the environment, along with rising energy prices, anything that can help ensure our homes are more energy-efficient is definitely worth considering. But where does a homeowner start?

A home energy audit is what can help you figure out how energy-efficient your home is. Home energy audits can determine how efficiently your home is using energy right now, pin point problem areas you may not even be aware of, and perhaps more importantly, help you prioritize ways to improve your home’s overall energy efficiency.

How Does One Go About a Home Energy Audit?

There are a number of ways to conduct an energy audit of your home, ranging from hiring trained and qualified professionals to simple, easy-to-use online assessment tools.

Hiring a Professional

A professional home energy audit will go into much greater detail than a quick online assessment. Since you are hiring trained professionals who will be using specialized equipment, the final report will obviously be much more comprehensive. Make sure you devote the time and budget to this if you are having it done professionally

o A professional audit will usually begin with an interview during which you will be asked a number of questions regarding how you and your family live (how many people in the home, are all the rooms used, average temperature settings in winter and summer, etc.), as well as a comprehensive look at your utility bills going back for at least a year.

o Next would be a thorough examination of your home from the outside (noting things such as the amount of wall area versus the number of windows, their size, shape and make-up, plus their orientation (which way they are facing), and the position of your home on its lot.

o The final step in a professional home energy audit would be a room-by-room inspection of your home using specialized equipment, such as infrared cameras, furnace efficiency meters, surface thermometers and blower doors to help determine areas where energy could be lost.

o The outcome of all this effort will be a detailed report highlighting how efficiently your home is using energy right now, as well as a providing a list of changes you could implement to improve your home’s energy utilization.

Finding a Home Energy Auditor

o You may be able to get recommendations from your state or local government energy office, or your electric or gas utility.

o Check your telephone directory by looking under Energy for companies that perform home energy audits.

o Consult the , and find professional home energy auditors in your state.

Conducting Your Own Home Energy Audit

If you have time and you are willing to put in the effort, you can do your own basic home energy audit in about half a day. Essentially, doing your own home energy audit involves determining if your home has adequate insulation, as well as looking for areas where there may be air leaks or infiltration that would force your home to use extra energy. Here is how to conduct your own simple energy audit.

o Start by measuring the insulation in your attic. Since up to 50 percent of a home’s energy loss is through the roof, adequate insulation in imperative. The Department of Energy recommends that if you have less than R-30 insulation in your attic (R-30 equals 11 inches of fiberglass or eight inches of blown cellulose), you should add more.

o Air moving in and out of your home will add a lot to your heating and cooling bills, so walk around the inside of your home, and look for any air leaks. A burning incense stick or even a tissue balanced on a pencil will act as a good indicator of moving air. Simply move it around window frames and door edges, and see if there is air movement. If you see any leaks, you have found gaps that need to be filled with caulking or weather stripping.

o Check heating and cooling ducts to be sure there are not any gaps that will allow air to escape, forcing your furnace or air conditioner to work harder to heat or cool your home.

o Also while outside, look at areas where two types of building material come together (window frame and siding for example) to see if there are any openings on the outside that need to be blocked. Also check where pipes and cables come through the walls to be sure there are no openings.