How is your home’s energy being used? Where is it going? If you’ve never conducted an energy audit, it might (literally) be going out of the window.

Conducting a home energy audit will help you pinpoint where your house is losing energy and what you can do about it. Some steps are easy as pie, but others may require a professional. So we’ve provided three levels of actions you can take for a more energy efficient (and more comfortable home). Let’s get started!

Easy: Get It Done in 5 Minutes, No Sweat

These three simple adjustments are a great start to changing your home energy use:  

1. Audit Energy Bills. The first step to an energy audit is understanding your household’s energy consumption. Check out your energy bills and come up with “base” number for how much energy is typically consumed during a billing cycle.

2. Inspect Windows. Move from room to room, inspecting all of your windows. Look for condensation buildup on the windowpanes. Then, wet your hand under a sink and run your hand along the perimeter of every window. The moisture on your hand will help you detect drafts instantly. Jot down any windows with leaks so you can seal them later.

3. Inspect Doors. Check all exterior doors for air leaks the same way you inspected your windows. Inspect the door’s weather stripping for air leaks, too, recording anything you find.

Moderate: Some minor adjustments, but nothing crazy

Now that you know where your home’s energy is going, it’s time to fix it! If you’re unhappy with your energy bills and want to actively lower your household’s energy consumption, try these improvements:

1. Seal Air Leaks. Use a caulk gun to seal leaks around any windows that had air leaks. Repair or replace any weather stripping along any exterior doors that showed signs of leaks.

2. Inspect the Furnace. Replace your furnace filters every three months and schedule a routine checkup for your furnace at least once a year. If your furnace is more than 15 years old, consider replacing it with a more energy efficient system.

3. Regulate Fridge and Freezer Temps. The recommended temperature is 37-40 degrees for the fresh food compartment and 5 degrees for the freezer section. Any higher than this, and your refrigerator is working too hard!

Hard: These Require Some Handy Skills or a Professional

These are jobs that should only be tackled if you’re comfortable handling all of the steps yourself. Before you start, read over the instructions carefully. If you need a hand, hire a professional to help you with these projects:

1. Inspect Air Ducts. Clean ductwork means better indoor air quality and up to a 40 percent increase in your HVAC system’s efficiency. Inspect your air ducts at least once a year on your own or hire a professional to examine (and possibly clean) your ducts.

2. Install a Programmable Thermostat. Not only does a programmable thermostat make your life easier, it can save your about $180 a year on energy costs. Tip: If one room is always colder than the rest of your home, you may need to balance your central heating system

3. Hire a Professional Auditor. If you’d like a more in-depth look at your energy consumption, consider hiring a professional auditor to conduct a more thorough assessment. The professional will usually use several tools, including infrared cameras, manometers, digital probe thermometers and moisture meters to gauge how air, heat and moisture are working in your home.

Which level is right for you?

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