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Exploring the Benefits of an Energy Audit in the Home

 Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Photo by: Bigstockphoto

Assessing the energy consumption of the home is the first step towards building an energy-efficient living space.

Usually, energy auditing requires hiring a professional to assess the energy consumption of a home. An energy auditor has all the right tools to assess a structure’s envelope, combustion, chimney, attic, and crawling space for signs of energy wastage. However, you don’t have to hire a professional to assess your home. You can do the energy audit yourself to reduce your electric bill and build an energy efficient home.

How to Conduct Energy Audit on Your Own

Checking the Exterior Envelope

Start your audit by checking the structure’s exterior envelope. Assess the windows, doors, walls, roof, and other components exposed to outdoor air. Hold a stick of lit incense or candle near windows, doors, electrical outlets, attic hatchets, etc. and watch the direction of the smoke. If the smoke blows, this is a sign of a draft. You would have to seal the draft with caulking, sealant, weather-stripping, or insulation for a tight envelope.

Checking for Insulation Value

After checking the home’s envelope for drafts or gaps, you want to check how your home insulation is holding up. Go to various spots in the home where insulation is exposed (attic, basement, around ducts, water heaters, etc.). With a ruler, measure the R-value or thickness of the insulation. Use an insulation calculator and see if the value of your insulation is within the recommendations of the Department of Energy or DOE.

A professional auditor would use a thermographic scan to measure the insulation value of your home’s ventilation, electrical, insulation, lighting, HVAC equipment and ducting. A settled or uneven insulation could cause air to leak, leading to energy wastage.

Checking for Leaks

Essentially, energy auditing involves checking for air leaks. So go ahead, go over every nook and cranny of your home and inspect it for gaps or holes that cause air leaks. Usually, a duct hole or a crack in an exterior wall cause air leaks. When the home is plagued by air leaks, your cooling and heating systems are working harder to regulate the temperature within the space.

Inspect the Exposed Ducts

Ducts do not work as efficiently if they are blocked, dirty, holey, or if they pass through unfinished portions of the home. Ducts have to be well insulated too. Otherwise, you are wasting money on high electric bills. Inspect the exposed ducts and look for obvious holes, uneven joints, etc.

Ducts are made of thin metal that conducts heat. If the ducts were not insulated, the unconditioned space would lose 10% to 30% of energy as you heat or cool your home. As such, do not leave the ducts exposed to the elements. Have them insulated to conserve energy.

Benefits of an Energy Audit

Cost-Efficient Home

Imagine saving hundreds of dollars on your monthly electric bills because your living space is 100% energy efficient. An energy efficient home promotes better comfort. It enhances air quality and leaves you with lower monthly energy bill.

Better Insulation

When the home is energy efficient, your heating and cooling systems do not work as hard to regulate the indoor temperature. This creates a cool, comfortable home in every season.

Better Health Safety

Poor air quality leads to sickness and allergies. Dangerous fumes could enter the home via undetected gaps and drafts. Auditing the home’s energy consumption is one way to ensure a safe, healthy living space for you and your family.

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