Energy efficiency is more important than ever. An energy audit for your home can be crucial to identify potential air leaks and other issues that could keep your energy usage (and your energy bills) high. Find out how an energy audit at home can help you improve energy efficiency and reduce your energy consumption.
What is a home energy audit?
A home energy audit, also known as a home energy rating, will help you get a better idea of the amount of energy your home is using. This audit provides you with a summary of your energy costs, how you are saving energy and which renewable, energy-saving upgrades or repairs can be helpful.
Planning an energy audit for your home should be the first step you take before making any energy saving improvements to your home. Renewable energy systems and energy efficient appliances are becoming increasingly popular with homeowners due to their limited energy consumption and the discounts offered for their installation. However, before installing solar panels or a smart thermostat, you should conduct an energy audit of your home.
There are two types of home energy audits: home improvement and professional audits.
Do-it-yourself energy audit
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Once you know what to look for, a DIY home preliminary energy audit can be done. However, it is important to know where not only to look, but also the signs of energy inefficiency and how to test them. Here are some of the main areas of the home and types of wasted energy to investigate.
First, check your windows, doors, sockets, and fittings. These are external elements on the perimeter of the house and the barriers between the temperature inside your house and the outside environment. Go closer and feel for air leaking and look for damaged or missing weatherstrip.
Air leaks can lead to increased heating and cooling costs. The leaks can make it more difficult for your HVAC system to regulate the temperature. This requires it to work a lot harder and use a lot more energy to keep your home in the desired environment.
Insulation is critical to energy efficiency. Proper insulation can keep heat out in summer while retaining it in winter. If the insulation is old or wears out, it will not do its job as effectively, resulting in increased energy consumption.
Take a look at the insulation in your attic. If it looks old, shabby, or worn out, it may be time to swap it out for something more current and efficient.
Like everything else, your ventilation system can get dirty and damaged over time. Preventive cleaning should be done every year to ensure the system does not become clogged with dirt and debris.
Cracks or holes allow air to escape instead of spreading throughout the house. Take a good look at your vents and registers. Clean it when necessary for a more thorough airflow and if there is any damage that needs to be damaged and replaced.
Heating and cooling systems and thermostats
This is one of the most important aspects of energy consumption. Inefficient and outdated heating and cooling systems can significantly increase heating and cooling costs. While each of these factors come into play, the HVAC system can be the most important.
Old and obsolete systems need to run more frequently to keep your home warm or cool. They tend to use the energy or fuel they consume less efficiently. The more work is required, the more energy is used. For this reason, it is important to check the efficiency of your HVAC system and update it if necessary. In particular, look for the Seasonal Energy Efficiency Rating (SEER) to determine the efficiency of the system. The US Department of Energy recommends looking for central air conditioning systems with a SEER of at least 15. New systems, especially those with ENERGY STAR certification, optimize energy consumption and use less energy to achieve better results than older systems.
In addition, you can make your home more energy efficient by upgrading to a smart thermostat. For more information, see the EcoWatch test of the best smart thermostats.
The lighting in your home can play a diverse role in energy consumption. In addition to the energy required to supply light, heat is also given off during use. Older lightbulbs not only require more energy to burn, they also give off a lot more heat. Both contribute to increased energy consumption.
New lightbulbs require less energy to provide brighter light while reducing the amount of heat given off. All of this equates to energy savings over those old, cheap, outdated light bulbs. Plus, energy efficient LED bulbs last much longer so you don’t have to replace them as often.
Even your devices can be energy inefficient. Like the other items on this list, older models tend to use more power doing the same tasks that a newer device could do with much less power.
Outdated refrigerators, dishwashers, and washing machines can use much more cold and hot water than necessary, while old dryers can significantly increase your energy bills. It is important to know what your current level of utilization is and what efficient devices can offer today.
Professional home energy audit
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While home energy audits are quite effective and cost less, a professional energy audit offers advantages. Professionals have a trained eye for the details to be discovered and are likely to find minor issues that you may be overlooking. They also do a more thorough inspection that covers the entire house and have access to specialized equipment. To schedule a professional audit, you can contact your local service provider or a certified HVAC specialist. Here are some of the steps you can expect from a professional assessment.
Room by room inspection
A professional energy audit begins with a room-by-room inspection. Each room has its own ventilation slots, windows, etc., which can present different energy use challenges. It is not enough to just check a room or your home’s central systems to identify potential problems in the home. This inspection will help your professional narrow down the list of possible problems.
Inspection of exterior windows and doors
Windows and doors can be a major cause of air leaks and flow problems. A home energy audit will check each of these points to make sure they are properly sealed and not venting heated or cooled air. For example, improperly sealed windows can affect the energy efficiency of your home and can be fixed at a much lower cost than an HVAC system.
Blower door test
The blower door test helps identify air leaks using a special fan that depressurizes the house. The fan door test is performed both before and after the air seal process to ensure that the process is effective.
A professional has the tools that most home improvers don’t have. The thermographic scan is a perfect example. Thermography uses an infrared camera to record certain heat patterns in the home. This means identifying areas where heat is escaping, as well as pockets where airflow is restricted.
Inspection of combustion devices
Individuals with natural gas appliances – water heaters, stoves, stoves, etc. – should be checked to ensure that there is no gas leakage during use. In addition to increasing energy costs, these gas leaks can also be potentially dangerous. Inspecting these devices is a good idea to save costs and make sure your home is protected from carbon monoxide.
Analysis of past energy costs
Another helpful tool is to take a close look at past energy costs. This is not only well suited to determine the basic values of energy consumption, but can also provide information about periods in which energy consumption may be higher. This will give your auditor a better idea of what is the month-to-month usage for the home and where inefficiencies can occur.
What are the benefits of a home energy audit?
There are two main benefits of home energy audits: improved energy efficiency and lower energy costs. By making the necessary upgrades, your home can reduce energy consumption and save money on your monthly energy bills.
Use less energy
The energy savings may vary depending on the changes made. According to the Department of Energy, you can save between 20 and 40% of heating and cooling costs annually with a new HVAC system. Light bulbs, in particular, can be very efficient. Depending on the type, new LED lamps can use 25-80% less energy than conventional incandescent lamps.
Even if your total energy usage is reduced by 10% per month, the total amount of energy saved annually is nothing to make fun of. Newer devices and systems ensure a comfortable home and at the same time reduce your space requirements. In addition, many smart products allow you to remotely control and monitor your home using mobile apps.
Save more money
Energy efficient windows can save $ 101 to $ 583 annually when replacing single pane windows. You can save hundreds of dollars with a new heating and cooling system. Lightbulbs have a much longer-term effect, but shouldn’t be overlooked.
Regardless of how you cut it, there are massive savings both monthly and yearly on a more energy conscious home. Certain upgrades have a bigger impact than others, but there is no doubt that upgrading to energy efficient lightbulbs, HVAC systems, windows, etc. can play an important role in your finances and energy savings.
How to use your home energy audit
What do you do with the results of your energy audit at home? The most important consideration is which devices or areas of the house need to be upgraded. Leaks need to be fixed and worn insulation, roofs or siding replaced.
Another focus should be on upgrading to ENERGY STAR qualified equipment, installing renewable or highly efficient HVAC systems or water heaters, smart lights, smart thermostats, and more. The number of energy efficient products available today is huge, so it’s easy to find inexpensive ways to reduce your energy consumption.
What to look for when upgrading your home
When it comes to energy efficient upgrades for the home, it’s important not to just use old replacement materials. Look for products and equipment with the following certifications: ENERGY STAR, LEED certified, Green Seal, Rainforest Alliance, or FSC certified. Each of these gives you the promise that you are getting the most energy efficient and environmentally friendly materials available. Check the EPA WaterSense seal on water consumption.
Ryan Womeldorf is a freelance writer specializing in technology and consumer products, including smart home tech. He is husband and father of two children (five if you count his pups).