The word ‘audit’ can strike fear in just about anyone. And, while I am writing about the importance of getting audited, I don’t mean that scary tax kind. I’m talking about a home energy audit and how getting one can instantly slash your utility bills. It’s an ideal way to Do Your Part and save money when you discover which things in your home can be made to operate more efficiently without an expensive upgrade.
A couple of years ago, I had an energy auditor perform a series of tests on my home, which was built in the 1940s. One involved hooking up a large blower to my front door to pull the air out of the house. This created suction within the house and air from the outdoors could actually we heard coming through the leaks. Not surprisingly, I learned my old house leaked like a sieve and after the test, I took action.
My home had one of the most common problem areas – a leaky wood burning fireplace. Drafts are created even with the flue closed. An inexpensive fix is to install a fireplace plug. These inflatable devices will block the draft until you’re ready to use the fireplace again. By blocking drafts you will see an immediate difference in your heating and cooling costs. This is not a solution for a gas burning fireplace with a continuously burning pilot.
Hot and cold air can also easily escape around doors and windows. This is another easy fix. Once you discover where your problem areas are, you can remedy them with some new weather stripping. There are now self adhesive ones which make this a simple do it yourself project.
My energy auditor also filled me in on a lesser-known trouble spot – the space around supply boots. Supply boots are the piece of duct found behind your air vents. If you see holes or gaps there you can seal it up with inexpensive ductwork tape easily at most hardware stores.
And don’t forget about your attic entryway. These areas are rarely insulated. Whether you have a vertical door or a pull down hatch, a simple solution is to add a board of rigid insulation. It’s a whole lot less messy and easy to mount. You can watch a quick video of me installing rigid insulation at DoYourPart.com/Columns.
Once you find out where you are wasting money and resources in your home it’s easy to make energy efficient upgrades. Your energy auditor will be able to give you specific recommendations. Then, you can hire someone to make the changes or you can do it yourself. Either way, you will Do Your Part to lower the amount of energy use along with your monthly utility bills.
Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, eco-expert and author of Do Your Part: A practical guide for everyday green living available at DoYourPart.com. Send questions to firstname.lastname@example.org