The energy efficiency of your home, whether you own or rent, is directly related to how much you'll spend on water, gas, and electricity. Things like outdated appliances, gaps in doors and windows, and poor insulation can dramatically increase your house's maintenance costs.
A home energy audit is something you can do yourself, without spending any money. It should take only a couple hours, and in that time you'll identify problems that could potentially impact your bank account.
Kick off your home energy audit by checking for gaps around all exterior doors. If you find any, weather-stripping ($5-10 per roll) can close them. If there are large gaps, you might want to consider installing new doors to ensure air-tightness.
Repeat the process with all windows in the home. Check for gaps between the glass and the mullions, if any, as well as between the window and the wall. Look for any cracks in the glass that could be admitting air.
3- Other Air Leaks
The windows and doors are just two sources of air leaks that you should identify during a home energy audit. Check electrical sockets, basement and attic entrances, mail slots, and fireplaces. Pay attention if you happen to feel a draft while walking around your home.
Replace incandescent light bulbs with more energy efficient alternatives, such as CFLs or LEDs. This can cut down on your electricity cost. Make sure, as well, that all lights are functioning normally, and that you haven't plugged in floor or table lamps you never use.
5- Air-Conditioning Filters
Replace air-conditioning filters if they are past their expiration. Consider buying energy efficient filters that do not need to be changed as often, and create an alert on your computer or smart phone that will remind you when they need to be switched out.
6- Ceiling Fans
Make sure your ceiling fans are running in the correct direction. In the summer, they should rotate counterclockwise to create a downdraft, and in the winter, they should run clockwise to create an updraft. Clean all ceiling fans so the motor isn't strained by dust.
Inspect all appliances to ensure they are running efficiently. Your furnace and air-conditioning unit should be inspected annually and cleaned if necessary. Investigate any problems you've noticed, such as clothes not drying thoroughly or an oven that doesn't reach set temperatures.
Your home energy audit should include plumbing fixtures, such as sinks and toilets. Caulk cracks around any of those fixtures and identify any leaks. Make sure your water heater is running efficiently.
One way to identify potential energy wasters is to buy an energy monitor. It can be hooked up to most home appliances, and will show you not only how much energy the appliance uses, but how much money it costs you. You can then budget to replace inefficient appliances.
Any unused appliance, electronic device, or light fixture uses electricity when it is plugged in. Things like can openers, blenders, reading lamps, and cell phone chargers are common culprits. Unplug those items so they don't drain electricity while not in use. If you need to use them, you can simply plug them back in.
A home energy audit should be conducted at least twice a year, preferably in the fall and the spring. Once you know how your home uses electricity, gas, and water, you can make plans to improve any areas of poor performance.