Save Energy

Beat the heat and cold with a 60-minute DIY home energy audit

 
July 16, 2014 | by

Since rising temperatures bring rising energy bills, ways to save on utility bills become top of mind – and a home energy audit is a great way to reduce costs and realize energy savings.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, most people can conserve energy by making small upgrades around the home, which can result in a 5 to 30 percent savings on utility bills – and they are things homeowners can do themselves.

To help time-starved and cash-strapped homeowners as summer approaches, Bobby DiFulgentiz, energy efficiency expert for Lennox Industries, said homeowners can take some simple steps to save energy.

"You want to make sure that whatever heating and cooling you are providing,  it is not getting out," he said. "That's what wastes energy."

DiFulgentiz offers the following four tips for improving energy efficiency with a 60 minute do-it-yourself home energy audit.

1. Locate and Seal Air Leaks. When conducting a home energy audit, start by examining outside-facing walls, windows and doors to identify cracks or holes where air escapes the home. "Fill in wherever you see crack,s especially around windows and doors, it's going to make a big difference," DiFulgentiz said. "That way the hot air and cool air doesn't escape."

Seal all leaks using caulk or weather stripping to increase energy efficiency and prevent spending more on monthly utility bills. Time involved: 19 minutes.

2. Maintain Heating and Cooling Systems.  In some homes, more than 50 percent of utility bills are from heating and cooling. When a system’s air filter becomes clogged by dirt and other particles, the unit can’t produce enough airflow to function properly, causing it to work harder and decreasing overall efficiency. Check and clean air filters monthly to reduce operating costs and save energy.

"You have to maintain the system, it's a machine just like your car," DiFulgentiz said. But a lot of people don't think of it that way. You would never not change your oil or bring your car in for a tune up. It's the same kind of thing the HVAC system before you hit the hot summer or cold winter months." Time involved: 6 minutes.

3. Check and Add Insulation.  If a home does not have proper insulation, money is escaping right through your walls and attic. Check to see if your home has at least five inches of insulation where needed. If not, it might be a good idea to add more, which can bring a return on investment of more than 100 percent. If you're not comfortable doing it yourself, there are local contractors who can help, DiFulgentiz said. Time involved: 24 minutes.

4. Check Lighting and Replace Bulbs.  Evaluate your home’s lighting needs and determine if natural light is sufficient in any areas. Also, replace short-lived, incandescent light bulbs with compact, fluorescent bulbs. These bulbs use less energy, last up to 10 times longer, and can save you $65 each year. "If you replace lightbulbs in your house every year like I do, you'll appreciate it," DiFulgentiz said. Time involved: 11 minutes.

These quick and easy do-it-yourself solutions can help save energy and money, but it’s still a good idea to get a full inspection by industry professionals, such as those who service your heating and cooling systems. Detailed assessments will include a room-by-room examination of your home and thorough examination of past utility bills.

Read more about home energy audits.