DIY Energy Audit

  • By Jeremy Thompson
  • 01 Oct, 2013
As a follow-up to our last blog, How to Prepare for an Energy Audit, this time we’re going to tell you how you can do some of the work yourself! A DIY energy audit won’t necessarily replace the more thorough audit offered by a professional, but you CAN conduct your own simple home walk-through to […] The post DIY Energy Audit appeared first on J. Thompson Builders.

Handy tools such as this energy meter are helpful in a DIY energy audit!

As a follow-up to our last blog, How to Prepare for an Energy Audit , this time we’re going to tell you how you can do some of the work yourself!
A DIY energy audit won’t necessarily replace the more thorough audit offered by a professional, but you CAN conduct your own simple home walk-through to pinpoint where energy is being wasted. You’ll come away from the process with a better idea of what areas in your home to address to conserve energy.

How To

As you walk through your home keep a list of areas you have inspected, and note what problems you find. The list will later help you determine what issues to address. Here are a few items to evaluate:
  1. Locate air leaks:Check for leaks around baseboards, floor edges, windows, doors, between walls and the ceiling, and around faucets, electrical outlets, pipes and wiring. On the exterior of the home check for leaks wherever building materials meet and look for cracks in the foundation and siding. Many holes are easily sealed by applying caulking or weatherstripping.
  2. Inspect the insulation:This guide from the Department of Energy offers a great explanation of how to inspect insulation, check its depth and determine R-value.
  3. Maintain your HVAC equipment:Inspect your equipment annually, and replace filters as needed (usually about once every month). A professional should clean and service your system about once a year as well. If your unit is older than 15-25 years, you may want to consider replacing your system with a newer, more energy-efficient unit.
  4. Replace lighting:Replace inefficient bulbs with energy-saving options, such as compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs).
  5. Evaluate appliance and electronic use:Unplug electronics when they are not in use. Minimize your use of electronics, if possible. Purchase more efficient versions of appliances and electronics.

Cool Tools

While you may not have access to all the tools a professional energy auditor does, there are several cool tools on the market that may make your DIY energy audit easier and more thorough.
The IR-Blue is an affordable thermal imaging camera that uses an infrared sensor array to show a heat map and the temperature of an area. It connects to iPads and iPhones or Android phones using Bluetooth.
The Kill A Watt detector measures how much power your appliances or electronics are drawing even when the device is not in use. Testing appliances for how much energy they are wasting will encourage you to unplug such devices when they are not in use; plugging often used appliances into power strips makes it easier to switch the power off each night.
Some utilities offer a program where homeowners can control their energy usage with a digital energy management system. The system requires you to hook your appliances and electronics into smart plugs or relays which transfer information to a control panel. The device offers real-time information on your usage, so you can immediately determine what appliances are costing you the most money. Check with your local utility, and ask if they offer a similar program.

Other resources

Your local government or utility may offer a free DIY Energy Audit guide, like this one from the City of Seattle’s Department of Planning and Development.
If you have the last 12 months of utility bills on hand, use the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick . You’ll enter basic information about your home, and the tool will compare your home’s energy efficiency against similar homes. Finally, the tool will recommend some energy-saving home improvements.
Next Steps
Photo Credit, EdinburghGreens
The post DIY Energy Audit appeared first on J. Thompson Builders .

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