A drafty house that allows air to move through cracks and gaps may be letting more than just air move through those cracks and gaps; it may be letting your money slip right out.
You can do your own energy audit if you are willing to take your time and be very detailed.
It is helpful to keep a list of any problems you find so you can prioritize the solutions. Go to each room in your home and check for any leaks or drafts from windows, doors, electrical outlets, baseboards or even the gap between the walls and ceiling. Don’t forget to check any fireplaces, attic hatches or window-mounted air conditioners.
However, since properly sealing and insulating your house can save up to 30% on utility bills, it may be worth the extra cost of getting a professional energy auditor to give you a detailed look at your home’s energy issues. These audits can cost up to $600, but the savings in monthly bills could pay for that cost in just over a year.
Professional energy audits consider two main components: a detailed home inspection and thorough review of utility bills. The home inspection will being with a look at windows, doors, and electrical outlets to check for gaps that are letting air in. Even your lightbulbs will be checked to see how much energy they use.
The auditor may also check your furnace and hot water heater to see how energy efficient they are and whether they need additional insulation. As furnaces age, they become less well-organized. Sometimes, simply changing the filter can make a difference since a dirty filter can’t breathe and makes the unit less effective.
Once the visual inspection is complete, then the heavy tools come in. A blower door test will most likely be conducted. This is where in which a huge fan is set up to pull the air out of the house to check for leaks around the doors and windows. The test should be conducted with a calibrated door blower.
Another tool to see the problem areas is an infrared scanner called a thermographic scan, which can show the heat differences in rooms and might help pinpoint areas that need more insulation.
The second part of a professional energy audit includes a series of questions about any issues with drafts, condensation, daily use of the rooms and more. In addition, the auditor will examine a year’s worth of utility bills to look for patterns in heating or cooling.
If you are going to hire a professional, it is important to get someone with the skill, qualifications and appropriate tools to properly do the job. You should look for a certified Home Energy Rater. The web site www.energystar.gov can help you find certified raters by state.