How to Conduct a Home Energy Assessment – Many professionals offer a home energy assessment, and these are highly recommended to save you money. However, there are steps you can take to complete your own home energy assessment when hiring a professional isn’t an option.
Locate air leak
The greatest heat loss in a home comes from air leaks in the vents, around windows and doors, near switches and electrical outlets, or in walls and ceilings. These air leaks can account for 10 to 20 percent of energy loss.
To detect air leaks, you can start with a visual inspection. Rattling or movement near a window or outlet can be a sign of a leak, as well as visualizing light through gaps.
When a gap or leak is found, use caulk or weatherstripping to seal them. Caulk is a flexible material to seal gaps in areas that do not need to be opened or moved. Weather stripping, on the other hand, can be applied around doors that need to be opened and closed.
Conducting a pressurization test
If you have a hard time locating air leaks and want to utilize another method, go through these steps to conduct an air pressure test of your home.
- Turn off furnaces and appliances.
- Shut all windows, doors and fireplace/wood stove flues.
- Turn on all exhaust fans that blow air outside such as your stovetop fan, dryer vent, and bathroom fans.
- Light an incense stick and slowly walk through the house, moving the incense stick around common air leak areas such as windows, around doors, near light fixtures, etc. Notice where the incense smoke moves or is blown into or out of a room.
- Use the steps above to address air leaks with caulk or weather stripping.
Ensure proper ventilation
Ventilation is important in any home, and helps control moisture, prevent mold and other damaging factors. However, each home’s needs vary dependent on the number of occupants, pets and the home’s airtightness.
Having too much ventilation will leave a house feeling cold and drafty during a storm, whereas not enough ventilation can leave a home without the opportunity to move pollutants out of the home.
If you suspect your home is lacking proper ventilation, several options exist for adding it. These include exhaust ventilation systems, supply ventilation systems, balanced ventilation systems, and energy recovery ventilation systems. To learn more about each of these ventilation systems, visit the U.S. Department of Energy’s ventilation page.
Heat can be lost through the floor, ceiling and walls. To check insulation, enter areas where insulation is laid and look for areas that are uneven or where insulation has been disturbed. Thoroughly evaluating the attic, basement and/or crawlspace will give a better idea if insulation needs to be repaired for maximum energy efficiency.
To check walls, turn off the electricity and then take the cover off an outlet. Look around the outlet to see if insulation is visible in the wall surrounding the outlet box.
Lighting makes up about ten percent of an electric bill, so this is another area where there’s potential for savings. Replacing inefficient light bulbs with LED (light-emitting diodes) bulbs or energy efficient incandescent bulbs will cost more upfront but will save money on an electric bill for years to come.
Older appliances use more energy than newer energy efficient models. As appliances need to be replaced, look for Energy Star appliances and review their efficiency. Just like light bulbs, you often end up paying more for energy efficient models up front but will easily recoup these costs in months or years to come.
If you would like to conduct a professional home energy assessment or have other heating and cooling questions, contact us at Pilchuck Heating.
More Advice for Homeowners
- How Can I Make My Home More Efficient?
- Is a Home Energy Audit Worth it?
- Difference Between an Air Conditioner and a Heat Pump
- What Does Energy Star Mean?
- What Does HVAC Mean?
- How to Heat Your House for Less
- What is the Most Effective Thermostat Setting?
- How to Protect Your Heat Pump During a Storm
- What You Should Know About CO
- Do I Need a Backup Furnace?
- What is a Mini-Split System?
- How to Find the Right Size HVAC For Your House
- Ways to Save Energy and Lower Heating Bills