There are a number of things you can do to improve your home’s energy efficiency, most of which are rather inexpensive and easy to do yourself. Conducting a thorough home energy audit assesses your home's energy consumption and identifies opportunities for improvement. You can hire a professional auditor or do your own walk-through to pinpoint problem areas.

DIY Home Energy Audit

If you choose a DIY approach, you may find this beginner’s checklist helpful:

 

 

Make a list of obvious drafts, and be sure to check everywhere: baseboards, flooring edges, wall junctures, electrical outlets, window frames, doors, attic hatches, fireplaces and wall/window-mounted air conditioners. Plug and caulk holes in pipes and seal cracks. Reducing air leaks can save up to 30 percent per year on your utility bills.

 

 

 

Check insulation levels. If too low, it can promote heat loss through ceilings and walls. Look in the attic hatch to see if it is as insulated as well as the attic. Check pipe, ductwork and chimney seals. Look for vapor barriers under the insulation, which reduce water vapor passing through the ceiling. Make sure attic vents are not blocked by insulation. When checking walls, first turn off the circuit breaker and verify there is no electricity running through the outlets before probing. If you feel resistance, that indicates the presence of insulation.

 

 

Evaluate HVAC equipment annually. Check and clean filters and replace as necessary. Update systems older than 10 years. Insulate pipes or ducts that travel through unheated spaces, such as unfinished basements or attics. Assess the wattage on your light bulbs and use smaller-watt bulbs if possible. Consider compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) or LED bulbs.

 

Check – and change – your behavior. For example, power down when you're not home and turn the thermostat down or off. When you are home, opt for a sweater instead of turning up the heat.

 

 

Log on to the ENERGY STAR® website to use its Home Energy Yardstick which compares your home's energy efficiency to similar homes throughout the country and provides recommendations for improvements. It requires your zip code, age, square footage and number of occupants.

 

Consider hiring a pro. Professional energy auditors examine every room as well as your past utility bills. They usually conduct a blower door test, thermo-graphic scan and an air infiltration measurement technique. Sometimes local utility offices offer free or discounted professional energy audits to their customers.

 

Sources: energysavers.gov; energystar.gov; hes.lbl.gov/consumer/

 

 

Need some help working through the checklist? Use this home energy worksheet as a tool to help you calculate the efficiency of your home's systems.