Follow these steps to perform your own home energy audit

October 13, 2009

By Staff

Here’s an easy checklist of areas to inspect and problems you might find. This list will help you prioritize your energy efficiency upgrades

Locating air leaks

First, check for air leaks (drafts). Energy savings from reducing drafts range between 5 percent and 30 percent per year. Check for indoor air leaks, such as gaps along the baseboard or edge of the flooring and at junctures of the walls and ceiling. Check to see if air can flow through these places:-Electrical outlets

-Switch plates

-Window frames

-Baseboards

-Weatherstripping around doors

-Fireplace dampers

-Attic hatches

-Wall- or window-mounted air conditioners

Also look for gaps around pipes and wires, electrical outlets, foundation seals and mail slots. Check to see if caulking and weatherstripping are applied properly, leaving no gaps or cracks, and are in good condition.

Inspect windows and doors for air leaks. If they rattle or you can see daylight around a door or window frame, then the door or window leaks. You can usually seal these leaks by caulking or weatherstripping them. Check storm windows to see if they fit and are not broken.

You can also conduct a basic building pressurization test:

First, close all exterior doors, windows and fireplace flues.

Turn off all combustion appliances, such as gas-burning furnaces and water heaters.

Then, turn on all exhaust fans (generally located in the kitchen and bathrooms) or use a large window fan to suck the air out of the rooms.

This test increases infiltration through cracks and leaks, making them easier to detect. You can use incense sticks or a damp hand to locate these leaks. If you use incense sticks, moving air will cause the smoke to waver, and if you use a damp hand, any drafts will feel cool to your hand.

On the outside of your house, inspect all areas where two different building materials meet, including:

-All exterior corners

-Where siding and chimneys meet

-Areas where the foundation and the bottom of exterior brick or siding meet.

You should plug and caulk holes or penetrations for faucets, pipes, electrical outlets and wiring. Look for cracks and holes in mortar, foundation and siding, and seal them with appropriate material. Check the exterior caulking around doors and windows, and see whether exterior storm doors and primary doors seal tightly.

Insulation

If the attic hatch is located above a conditioned space, check to see if it is at least as heavily insulated as the attic, is weather-stripped and closes tightly. In the attic, determine whether openings for items such as pipes, ductwork and chimneys are sealed. Seal any gaps with an expanding foam caulk or some other permanent sealant.

Make sure attic vents are not blocked by insulation. Seal any electrical boxes in the ceiling with flexible caulk (from the living room side or attic side) and cover the entire attic floor with at least the current recommended amount of insulation.

Get more do-it-yourself tips at www.energysavers.gov/your_ home/energy_audits; click on “do it yourself.”

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