Mention the word audit to someone, and you might see fear come over his or her face.
A tax audit is a serious matter. A home energy audit is just as serious because it can help you save money. It can also help you discover which areas of your home need to be more efficient.
A couple of years ago, I had an energy auditor do a series of tests at my home, which was built in the 1940s.
One test involved hooking up a large blower to my front door to pull air out of the house. This created suction within the house. I could hear air from outdoors coming in. Not surprisingly, I learned my old house leaked like a sieve.
My home had one other common problem: a leaky wood-burning fireplace. Drafts can be an issue even with the flue closed.
An inexpensive fix was to install a fireplace plug. These inflatable devices will block the draft until you’re ready to use the fireplace. By blocking drafts, you can usually see an immediate savings on your heating and cooling bill.
Unfortunately, this is not a solution for a gas burning fireplace with a pilot light that burns continuously.
Hot and cold air can escape around a home’s doors and windows. First, determine where you have a problem. Install weather stripping as a remedy. There are self-adhesive products available that make this a simple do-it-yourself project.
My energy auditor told me I was also losing money because of a lesser-known trouble spot: the space around supply boots. This is a piece of duct behind your air vents. If you see holes or gaps there, seal them with duct tape. This is inexpensive to do.
Have the auditor check the entry to your attic before he leaves. Too often this area is poorly insulated, if at all. Whether you have a vertical door or a pull-down hatch, a simple solution is to add a board of rigid insulation. (Watch a video of me doing this at DoYourPart.com/Columns.)
Once you find out where you are losing money and resources in your home, it’s smart to make energy-efficient upgrades. Do your part to lower your energy use as well as your monthly utility bills.