But before you start thinking of major eco renovations, it’s a good idea to get a sense of where you are starting from and find out how efficient or inefficient your home is RIGHT NOW. A DIY home energy audit will give you the information you need to make the necessary changes in your home to make it more efficient. You can hire a professional company to come in and do this, they will give you a full report of things you need to address.
For the purpose of this post, I want to teach you how to do it yourself. We’ve all got rooms in our homes that are hotter, colder and more drafty than the others. These rooms are the perfect place to start. But first, let’s start with the basics.
How Do I Do An Energy Audit At Home?
1. Analyze your utility bill
Take a look at your utility bills for the last year, look for trends in your bill, is there a particular time, season or month where your bill was higher? If you live in a cold climate like Canada, you might see a jump in January because heating costs tend to be higher in the winter. And what about the summer? June and July can be scorching in Canada. Do you notice a difference or a spike? If you notice major differences it might be a good idea to look at how efficient the insulation is in your home or look into a more energy-efficient furnace.
2. Check for Air leaks
Drafty windows can cost you big time, in fact, you could be wasting between 25% and 30% of your energy heating and cooling your home if you have major air leaks. Weather-stripping your home is one of the best things you can do.
Common places to check:
Cracks between stones and bricks
Fireplaces & Chimneys
Electric outlets and switches
Open Soffit (the box that hides the recessed lights)
Furnace Flue or Duct Chaseway (the hollow box or wall feature that hides ducts)
Basement Rim Joists (where the foundation meets the wood framing)
How to check for air leaks:
Can you feel a draft? Run your hand along the window or door. Is air coming in?
Grab a stick of incense and hold it up to the area you want to check, be careful around curtains and blinds or things that can catch fire. Watch where the smoke goes, if it goes up into space, you’ve got a leak!
3. Take a look in the attic
Check the attic – is it well insulated? A poorly insulated attic will cost you money! If the insulation is lower than the joists, you need to add more. Make sure there is enough insulation on the exterior walls too as it's a common place for leaks. If you are not sure about how efficient your attic is, probably best to check with a pro.
4. Check Your Ducts
Are they leaking air? Once a year schedule a professional heating and cooling inspection. You can do this at the beginning or end of the winter. A leaky duct can reduce your system’s energy efficiency by 15%-40%. EEK! A leaky duct can force the cool or warm air into the attic, basement, crawl space or garage, wasting energy and money. To find leaks, look for disjointed sections, obvious holes and dirty streaks on ducts.
5. Is your heating system working as well as it can
Even the most energy-efficient furnace won't work properly if it's connected to leaky ductwork. For this step, you will need to bring in a professional. I suggest having your home's climate system checked at least once a year. There are some things you can keep an eye out for during your DIY Home energy audit.
We tend to dust everything in our homes but forget about the filters on our heating and cooling systems. In the springtime, clean the filter on your freelance and at the end of summer (before you cover it) clean the filer on you’re A/C too. Proper maintenance is key, it will help the system work better and it will last longer too. Don’t forget about the filer on the back of your dryer too and the coils on you’re A/C. A good vacuum will do the job!
PRO TIP: When purchasing filters, try to buy ones that can be re-used and cleaned. Disposable filers are so yesterday! Look for permanent electrostatic filters.
6. Get Rid of Old Appliances (responsibly)
If your fridge is over 20 years old, it’s time to replace it! Older ones are electricity hogs and are costing you and the grid more to run! Energy Star Rated appliances are a better choice, just make sure you dispose of it properly. The same goes for your e-waste. FYI!
7. Have a light bulb moment
Lighting your home is expensive, especially if you are using incandescent light bulbs. If CFLs are too expensive try a lower watt bulb. And make sure you a turning off the lights when you leave the room. DUH!
Don't want to pay, there is a budget way, try Google Power Meter!
There are so many things we can do in the home to make it more eco-friendly. We can apply the principles of zero-waste living, we can compost, we buy sustainable and ethical fashion. But our homes are your sanctuaries and thinking about your home's carbon footprint will help you save money, reduce your impact and help you live a little greener.
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