As you set out on your DIY home energy assessment, keep a checklist of areas you’ve inspected and issues you’ve identified. Then, prioritize your energy efficiency upgrades based on your checklist. And keep in mind that energy-saving technology evolves constantly, so even a recently built home has the potential for improvement.
1. Air Leaks. First things first: Check for drafts. Reducing drafts can save you 10%–20% in annual energy costs—or up to $200 a year for the average homeowner, according to EnergyStar. Check for leaks in gaps along baseboards and where walls and ceilings meet. Check windows, doors, lighting and plumbing fixtures, switches, and electrical outlets. Re-caulk around faucets, pipes, and electric outlets as needed. Look for cracks and holes in the mortar, foundation, and siding of your home and seal with caulk or weatherstripping.
2. Insulation. The Alliance to Save Energy estimates half of U.S. homes lack adequate insulation. Take these steps to determine whether yours is one of them, starting at the top floor:
3. Plumbing. A plumbing update can help prevent burst pipes. It can also lower your insurance premiums. Here’s what to put on your checklist:
4. HVAC. Inspect heating, cooling and ventilation systems every year. Replace forced-air furnace filters every other month. Hire a professional to check and clean your equipment on an annual basis. Consider replacing any outdated heating or cooling systems with energy-efficient units.
5. Lighting. Did you know lighting accounts for around 15% of an average home’s electricity use? Replacing inefficient light bulbs can make a big difference. Choose energy-saving incandescents, compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs), or light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Reduce lighting use with sensors, dimmers, or timers.
6. Appliances and Electronics. Estimate the energy use of your home’s appliances and electronics. Reduce energy use by unplugging items like toaster ovens, coffeemakers and computers when not in use. Invest in new, more energy efficient appliances and electronics.
The bottom line: Once you find out where you’re losing energy, calculate what you’re spending on it. Think about your budget and how long you plan to stay in your current home, then formulate a plan to make your home more energy efficient. You’ll save money and the planet.
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