How to Conduct a Home Energy Audit

Energy is a precious resource, and wasting it can really take a toll on your monthly utility bill and on the environment. On the flip side, taking the time to locate and address your home’s greatest inefficiencies is one of the best things you can do to ensure the energy you’re buying is being put to good use.

But how do you discover those energy inefficiencies? A home energy audit of course! So block out your Saturday  — it’s time to take a tour of the attic, windows and doors, and a couple of stops in between. Here’s what you’ll need before you get started:

  1. A clipboard and pencil to take notes
  2. A smartphone or computer with internet access
  3. A measuring tape or ruler
  4. A stick or two of incense and matches

Step #1: Take a peek at your insulation.

On average, 30 percent of heated air is lost through leaks in attic floors. That’s 30 percent of your heating costs going toward energy that will never heat your home! According to the Department of Energy, the vast majority of homes built before 1980 were not properly insulated when built.

Ready to find out if your home is losing conditioned air? Follow these steps:

  1. Fill out this form to determine your home’s recommended R-value (a measure of thermal resistance)
  2. Submit the form and mark down your results. Save for later.
  3. Measure the depth of visible insulation in your attic using this tutorial.
  4. Calculate your home’s current R-value.

Return to the recommended R-value you discovered in step one. Is your home’s R-value less than the recommended value? You’re probably losing energy. Consider hiring a contractor to insulate your place!

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Step #2: Check for draftiness.

Besides gaps in the attic, drafty walls and crawl spaces are also big causes of wasted energy. Air leaks can be a little bit difficult to find, but sealing them up can make a huge difference in the comfort of your home.

Here’s how to find air leaks in your house:

  1. Shut all windows, fireplace flues and exterior doors (leave interior doors open).
  2. Turn on every exhaust fan that blows air outside (clothes dryer, bathroom fans, vents, etc.).
  3. Light an incense stick and hold it in front of access points like doors and window frames, as well as attic hatches, electrical outlets and vents.
  4. Look for smoke that wavers or blows in odd directions. This signals a draft!

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Step #3: Examine your windows.

Those windows giving you all that gorgeous natural light could also be a main source of energy loss! Similar to insulation, windows are rated by U-factor — aka their ability to keep conditioned air inside where it belongs. The lower the rating, the better.

Here’s how to check your windows: 

  1. Grab the R-value you calculated earlier in step number one.
  2. Input that value into this calculator and leave the U-factor section blank. Calculate.
  3. Mark down the result. This is the recommended U-factor for your home!

If the U-factor you calculated is a lot lower than the U-factor listed on your windows, you are most certainly losing energy. They aren’t up to snuff. To solve the issue, look into replacing single pane windows with double pane windows, as well as considering air sealing.

Action Steps

Make it through? By now you should have a solid idea of whether your home is well-insulated and well-sealed, as well as whether it’s operating efficiently or inefficiently. Take note of those areas of improvement. Every upgrade you make to address energy inefficiencies is a step toward a more comfortable, more eco-friendly home.

These upgrades are also a great investment! Looking to sell your place in the future? A well-insulated home will be much more attractive to buyers. Sticking with your place for the long haul? You’ll get to reap the benefits for years to come. Enjoy it!

What steps have you taken to make your home and your lifestyle more eco-friendly?

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31 comments

Sandra V
Sandra V4 days ago

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Sandra V
Sandra V4 days ago

Thanks

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John W
John W10 days ago

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Sandra V
Sandra V12 days ago

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Sandra V
Sandra V12 days ago

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ANA MARIJA R
ANA MARIJA R22 days ago

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Angela AWAY K
Angela AWAY K22 days ago

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Mia G
Mia G22 days ago

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Winn A
Winn A23 days ago

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Janis K
Janis K23 days ago

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