What is a Home Energy Audit?

J. Beam

Conserving energy in the home is important from both an environmental and a budgetary standpoint. To help minimize energy loss and maximize energy efficiency, a home energy audit can be a helpful tool. A home energy audit involves evaluating energy use in the home and determining areas where efficiency can be improved, thus minimizing or eliminating waste.

A programmable thermostat.
A programmable thermostat.

Many utility companies provide either a home energy audit service or resources for homeowners to conduct their own home energy audit. Typical evaluations include checking windows and doors for drafts, checking the efficiency of heating units, and checking the insulation in the home. Recommendations are made based on the findings of a home energy audit that can improve the home’s overall energy efficiency.

Energy can be conserved by replacing older air conditioning units with newer energy efficient models.
Energy can be conserved by replacing older air conditioning units with newer energy efficient models.

Some of the most common steps taken to improve the energy efficiency of a home are to seal drafty windows and doors. Whether by replacing weather stripping, covering windows with plastic, or replacing drafty doors and windows, minimizing drafts can go a long way toward using less energy. Further, adequate insulation in attics, crawl spaces, walls, and floors can greatly improve energy efficiency by allowing less heat to escape through small cracks and crevices.

Additionally, a home energy audit typically entails evaluating the energy efficiency rating of the home’s heating and cooling units. Some companies may recommend sealing or cleaning ducts and replacing the furnace filter with a high efficiency filter, while others may recommend upgrading heating or cooling units to a more energy efficient model. A home energy audit also includes ways to minimize electricity and fuel use by recommendations such as installing timers for outdoor lighting and programmable thermostats for heating and cooling units.

A home energy audit is fairly simple to conduct. Because many utility companies provide them as a free service, homeowners have nothing to lose and much to gain – including lower cost utility bills. To see if your utility company provides a home energy audit service, contact them directly. If they don’t, ask them to provide you with resources in your area that will enable you to conduct your own energy audit.

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