One of the best first steps to assessing the energy efficiency of your home is a home energy audit. An audit can be done by a professional for the most complete evaluation. However, a thorough do-it-yourself audit can also identify key problem areas without the cost. In this blog, we will cover the ins and outs of do-it-yourself home energy audits.
Although you most likely won’t have the tools or the know-how to perform the same, exact assessment as a professional auditor, tackling a successful DIY home energy audit is certainly possible. A diligent walk-through can provide value in determining areas to prioritize and address in your home’s energy efficiency. Don’t assume the age of your home is going to impact the outcome of an audit, nor that because you may have a new or newer build, there is no room for improvement. Sometimes, small adjustments can produce big benefits.
Preparing for a DIY Home Energy Audit:
Make a list – When walking through your home, keep a checklist of what you have inspected and what needs to be fixed.
Look for air leaks – Check for indoor and outdoor leaks, such as gaps around windows, doors, trim, baseboard, recessed light fixtures, ceiling junctures, electrical outlets, fireplace dampers and plumbing fixtures. Most air leaks are an easy fix with caulk and weather-stripping. Be sure to think about ventilation when sealing leaks. Learn more about it, here.
Check your insulation – If your home has insufficient insulation, the heat loss through the ceiling and walls could be significant. Although the insulation in your attic may be easy to view, the level of insulation in a wall is more difficult. One option is to select an exterior wall with an outlet. Be sure to turn off the circuit breaker or unscrew the fuse for any outlets in the wall. Test the outlet by plugging in and turning on a lamp or other device to ensure there is no power going to it. Remove the cover plate and gently probe into the wall with a long, thin stick or screwdriver. If you encounter slight resistance, you have insulation.
Review your lighting – When doing your walk-through, note the types of light bulbs in your home. Consider replacing inefficient bulbs with energy-saving incandescents, LEDs, or compact fluorescent lamps. Lighting accounts for about 10% of your electric bill. Small changes can make a big impact.
Consider your electronics and appliances – How you use appliances and devices, and the types you have, significantly impact your energy use. You can estimate the use of your appliances here once you examine them. A few ideas for increasing energy efficiency is this area are:
Adjusting settings or using the item less often
Unplugging electronics when not in use
Upgrading to new, energy efficient products
Assess heating and cooling equipment – HVAC equipment should be inspected annually, or as suggested by the manufacturer. Check the filters and replace them at the recommended cadence and have a professional clean your equipment once a year. Check your duct system. Streaks of dirt near the seams indicate an air leak and should be sealed. Ducts or pipes running through unheated spaces should be insulated using an insulation with an R-Value of at least 6.
Make a plan – Once you’ve walked through your home and made your list, consider these questions:
Where are your greatest energy losses?
How much money do you spend on energy?
How long do you plan to own your home?
How long will it take for an investment in energy efficiency to pay for itself in energy cost savings?
Will making upgrades provide additional benefits beyond that of the energy savings? (For example: convenience of controlling your thermostat on your smartphone)
Can you make the updates yourself, or do you need to hire someone to do them?
What is your budget?
Determine what should or can be upgraded – Now that you’ve completed your assessment and prioritized what issues may need to be addressed, determine what should and can be done to increase the energy efficiency of your home.
Where Can I Find Energy-Efficient Products?
ENERGY STAR® is a government supported program which provides credible, unbiased information for consumers and businesses on energy efficient products, homes, buildings and plants, so they can make well-informed decisions. All their certified products can be easily identified by the ENERGY STAR emblem and are guaranteed to save money without sacrificing features or functionality.
AEP Energy Reward Store is our one-stop online marketplace filled with a variety of energy-saving and connected-home products available exclusively for our valued customers. It is a simple and convenient way for you to shop for items to make your home more energy efficient while saving you time and money.
You can earn Reward Dollars to use in Reward Store by enrolling on an AEP Energy price plan. One month after your enrollment date, you will start earning Reward Dollars to use towards your purchases in Reward Store. Simply collect Reward Dollars each month. Shop AEP Energy Reward Store products. And redeem your Reward Dollars instantly at checkout.
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