What is a Home Energy Audit?

Green EnergyWith warmer weather approaching, many of us are already bracing for higher energy bills. But there are some steps you can take to help ensure your home is as efficient as possible. You can check basics such as drafty doors and windows yourself, or you may opt to have a professional home energy auditor come and evaluate your home. In fact, Energy Star’s website features a list of partner companies who offer rating services. A number serve the greater Houston area.

Improving the energy efficiency of your home could certainly save you money on electric bills, but it may also qualify you for certain tax credits and raise the resale value of your home, especially if it has been professionally audited.

In addition, some companies offer free audits. But be careful, they may promise these services at no cost, but then end up pressuring you into costly repairs or upgrades. So, do your research prior to committing to any renovations. This way you will be better informed about what changes are really worth the investment. If you prefer the DIY route, here are a few common areas you can go over yourself as part of a home energy audit:

  1. Review your energy bills over the last year. Tally totals for how many kilowatt hours (kWh) you consumed. Also, make a note of was your highest month was over the year. This will give you a benchmark for comparison as you move forward.
  2. Check for any drafts or air leaks. Common culprits include windows, baseboards, electrical outlets, exterior walls, doors, and attic hatches. You can try holding a feather up in the area to check for air movement. In addition, cobwebs are often present where there is air movement, indicating a draft. You can then install weather stripping, caulking, and other solutions as needed.
  3. Check insulation. Poorly insulated attic space, water heaters, or water pipes can be eating away at your wallet. Replace or supplement inadequate insulation.
  4. Check heating and cooling appliances and equipment. Make sure they are in good condition, since cooling costs make up the largest portion of your electric bill. You will likely need a professional to help evaluate your home’s heating and cooling systems and perform routine maintenance.
  5. Check household appliances. If they are more than 10 years old, it will more than likely be worth the cost to replace them with new energy efficient models.
  6. Check window coverings. Shades or window tinting can help prevent unwanted heat from entering your home in the warmer months.
  7. Check water usage. Low flow toilets, faucets, and shower heads can significantly reduce water waste for your household.

For more details, check out the resources offered by the Green Building Resource Center. Energy Star’s website also features the Yardstick tool. This allows you to score your home’s energy efficiency and see how you measure up to Energy Star standards. These are great resources to get you started in assessing your home!

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