How to Conduct your own Home Energy Audit
You can do a simple home energy audit yourself to get a general idea of where you may be having problems with energy loss. Make a list of obvious potential air leaks such as doors and windows. Make a list of each room you inspect and any problems that are found. Check electrical outlets,wall switches, window frames, baseboards, and wall or window air conditioners. If doors or windows rattle, or have gaps, they need re-caulked or weather stripping needs applied. Try lighting a candle or an incense stick and hold it in front of the window or door. Even if there are no visible gaps, a slight leak can be found this way. Check around the pipes and wires for any gaps. Check the foundation seal to make sure there is adequate caulking in good condition. Storm windows should fit snugly. Reducing the drafts in your home can save you 5% to 30% in a year.
Losing heat through the ceilings, walls, and attic can be quite a big problem if there is inadequate insulation. At the time your house was built the recommended amount of insulation was installed. This is most likely not adequate now with older homes, as the price of fuel continues to go up. When inspecting the attic, check to insure the vent pipes,chimney areas, duct work, and vents are sealed. If there are gaps seal them with expanding foam caulk. Look under the attic insulation for a vapor barrier such as tar paper or plastic sheeting.This prevents moisture from passing through the ceiling and reducing the efficiency of the insulation. Be sure not to block the vents themselves with insulation.
Lighting your home is about 10% of your electric bill. Check the wattage size of the light bulbs in every room. There may be 100 watt bulbs being used when a 60 watt bulb would work just as well. There are energy efficient flouresent bulbs that use a fraction of what a regular bulb uses. These are a good choice for lights that are left on for long periods of time. Turn off lights when you are not in the room for an extended period of time. Dimmer switches can be easily installed and are another option for saving energy. You could even install a motion sensor light switch or one with a timer. For more information on doing your own home energy audit see www.energysavers.gov/your_home/energy_audits/index.cfm/mytopic=11170.