A home energy assessment is the first step to saving energy in your home. Also sometimes referred to as a home energy audit, it shows you how efficient your home is and the most effective measures you can take to make improvements.
While a true home energy assessment uses advanced diagnostic tools—such as a blower door, infrared camera, static pressure gauge, smoke stick, etc.—not available to the average homeowner, you can conduct a simple home energy inspection of sorts yourself.
- Ask family members to list any drafty areas of the home that they have noticed so you can pay special attention to the cause of those drafts.
- Choose a cold, windy day so that any drafts will be more noticeable.
- Start by taking a careful, diligent walk-through of your entire home, including any attics or crawlspaces. Check for leaks or drafts, paying special attention to areas where different materials meet (foundation meeting walls, chimney meeting siding, etc.).
- Inspect the area around electrical outlets, switch plates, window and door frames, electric/gas service entrances, baseboards, phone and TV cables, attic hatches, wall mounted air conditioners, mail chutes, vents and fans.
- Check that any existing caulk or weather stripping is applied properly and is in good condition. Close doors and windows on a piece of paper. If the paper can be pulled out without tearing it, weather stripping should be installed.
Sealing the air leaks in your home will improve your home’s energy efficiency and save you money on your energy bills. In addition, heating and air conditioning accessories like humidifiers, dehumidifiers and air cleaners will be more effective as you reduce conditioned air from leaking right out of your home.
As you consider improvements, remember that your home needs to “breathe.” If you make your home too tight, you can actually cause new problems while you were trying to solve the old ones. If you have any questions, have a building analyst verify that you have enough fresh air for your gas appliances to function safely. This task is likely best left to the professionals as the only way to accomplish this important safety step is with sophisticated diagnostic instruments.
A professional home performance assessment will, of course, give you a much more detailed evaluation and will identify leaks the average homeowner cannot find on their own. In addition, they can prioritize your projects so you get the biggest bang for your home improvement buck. Often it will also uncover significant health, safety and comfort issues that are not readily apparent to the untrained eye. Either way, if you are looking to conserve energy in your home you must stop your heated or cooled air from leaking outside.
Kim Nemecek works at P.K. Wadsworth Heating & Cooling. After growing up in Cleveland, she lived in Florida for many years, working at an air conditioning company there. Kim has four grown children, two grandchildren and two spoiled dogs. She lives in Solon with her husband, Todd.
The opinions and statements contained in this article are for general informational purposes only and are not instructions. Only trained, licensed and experienced personnel should attempt installation/repair. The author assumes no liability for the opinions/statements made in this article. Any individual attempting a repair or installation based on this article does so at their own risk of loss.