Conducting a Home Energy Audit Yourself: Learn the Three L’s

Conserving energy is one of the top ways to not only do your part to save the planet, but also to save money. The U.S. Department of Energy further explains: “Today’s buildings consume more energy than any other sector of the U.S. economy, including transportation and industry.” While this is an astounding fact, there is a way to locate energy waste throughout your home in order to fix the problems and become a more energy-efficient household.

According to RESNET® Residential Energy Services Network’s take on a study published in the Appraisal Journal: “For every $1 decrease in annual energy costs, the market value of a home increases by $20. If you decrease your energy costs by $300 per year, the value of your home increases by $6,000. Investing in your home’s energy efficiency takes money. Fortunately, your return on investment is around 16% per year, after taking into account the money you spent on the improvements.”

If you want to understand just how much energy your home is wasting, you can contact a certified Home Energy Rater or in some cases, your electrical company. But professional home energy audits can cost anywhere from $150 to $500 or more depending on the size of your home. However, did you know that you can conduct a home energy audit yourself? Plus, many of the issues you find can be fixed and funded with an equity line of credit. There are things you can look for yourself to determine if your house is in need of some energy-efficient TLC.

The three L’s of DIY home energy audits:

Locate drafts. Often the most costly energy sponge in your home is the presence of drafts and air leaks. According to EnergyStar.gov, “The potential energy savings from reducing drafts in a home may range from 5% to 30% per year,” and that can amount to $500 a year. Check to see if air can flow through the following places, and if it can, be sure to find ways to stop the leaks immediately.

  • Doors opening to the outside
  • Windows
  • Foundation of your house
  • Baseboards
  • Crown molding
  • Electrical outlets
  • Attic rafters
  • Chimney
  • Pipes

Lighten up. “Energy for lighting accounts for about 10% of your electric bill,” states EnergyStar.gov. When it comes to lighting, even the simplest changes can go a long way. Try replacing 100 watt bulbs with 60 or 75 watt ones. Or install dimmers or lighting timers for times that you don’t need the lights turned all the way up. Turn off lights when you leave a room and avoid leaving a front porch or garage flood light on all night. Also, install motion sensors to help save electricity. Even small changes like these can save you $120 or more a year.

Lose your old appliances. Whether it’s the hand-me-down washer that came with your first house or your twenty year old air conditioning/heating unit, experts agree that appliances and heating/cooling equipment over 15 years old really should be replaced with energy efficient models. While this may be a more costly investment, it’s calculated that simply replacing your old refrigerator with a new, energy-efficient model can save up to $100 a year on your energy bill. Similarly, replacing your washing machine could save you up to $135 a year.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy’s web site (EnergyStar.gov) also gives homeowners great resources to conduct a DIY home energy audit. It’s called the ENERGY STAR Home Energy Yardstick and they claim that if you have five minutes, know the square footage of your home and have the last year’s worth of utility bills they can help you compare your energy usage with other homes across the country.

According to Lane Burt, manager of building energy policy at Natural Resources Defense Council, “A complete energy retrofit […] could slice a home’s energy consumption in half.” So what are you waiting for? There’s never been a better time to invest in your home by making it as energy-efficient as possible.

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