Get comfortable with a home energy audit

How can you identify and prioritize home upgrades that will also reduce your energy bill and make your home more comfortable? With a do-it-yourself home energy audit! Like the home energy audits offered by many utility companies, the DIY audit starts with a simple walk-through of your home to assess energy wasters and improvements to eliminate them.

Here are three important places to start:
1. Inspect your cooling/heating system

Heating and cooling accounts for nearly half your home’s energy usage. Improving efficiency here can make a noticeable difference on your monthly energy bill.

Your HVAC system should be inspected at least once a year. Your Lennox dealer can check and clean your equipment to help control energy usage.
If you have a central heating and cooling system, the filters should be checked monthly – especially during high-usage seasons – and replaced as needed (at least once every three months) to keep the system working efficiently.
Check ductwork for streaks of dirt that indicate air leaks. These should be sealed with duct mastic. Insulate ducts or pipes that extend through unheated spaces.
If any HVAC unit is more than 15 years old, a newer system can greatly reduce your energy usage and lower your energy bill.

2. Assess your lighting

Lighting makes up about 10 percent of your electricity costs.

Examine the wattage of your light bulbs. If your lamps are using 100-watt or larger bulbs, consider a 60- or 75-watt replacement.
Install compact fluorescent bulbs in areas where lights are left on for hours at a time.
Move lamps away from your thermostat. The heat produced by traditional light bulbs can be sensed and may force your air conditioner to work harder.

3. Eliminate drafts

Reducing air leaks or drafts can reduce your energy usage by 5 to 30 percent, according to the U.S. Department of Energy and make your home much more comfortable.

Look inside for gaps along the baseboard or edge of flooring and where the walls and ceiling meet.
Look outdoors at exterior corners, where siding and chimneys meet and areas where the foundation and exterior brick or siding meet.
Rattle windows and doors: Any movement means possible air leaks. If you can see daylight around a window frame or door, there is a leak that can often be fixed by caulking or weather stripping. Check storm windows for a tight fit. If new, high-performance doors and windows are too expensive, low-cost plastic sheets can be installed over windows to block air.
Plug or caulk air leaks from or around electrical outlets, switch plates, attic hatches and window-mounted air conditioners.
If you’re having trouble locating air leaks, you can try this simple building pressurization test:
Close all exterior doors, windows and fireplace flues
Turn off all combustion appliances, including gas-burning furnaces and water heaters.
Turn on exhaust fans in the kitchen and bath.
Dampen your hand to feel any cool drafts, or burn an incense stick to look